Michele Della Valle
Michele Della Valle was born in Rome and began designing jewelry when he was 16 years old. He was encouraged by renowned gemstone dealer, Roger Varenne to contact Hans Nadelhoffer, who ran the jewelry department at Christie’s. Impressed by Della Valle’s talent, Nadelhoffer was instrumental in jump starting Michele’s career as a precious gem dealer and jewelry designer.
In 1976, Della Valle worked for a Harry Winston subsidiary in Rome named Fürst Jewelers. In 1978, Michele opened his own workshop. In 1987, he moved his operation to Geneva, Switzerland and began designing jewelry that carried his name.
Della Valle related the story of how he was first inspired to begin designing jewelry to the New York Times: “It was a cold evening on March 1966. At the time, I was studying opera singing in Rome and was thrilled to be able to attend Giselle’s premiere, with Rudolf Nureyev and Carla Fucci at the Opera House. We were waiting for the doors to open, when a Rolls Royce stopped before me. Elizabeth Taylor came down from the Rolls and she looked at me with her incredible purple eyes. I was amazed. Her personal coiffeur, Alexander de Paris, had prepared a hairstyle that was a true work of architecture, a tower of black hair, cleverly held by a variety of gems set in brooches and jewelry that made her look like a Madonna – sacred, but secular, untouchable yet so worldly. Maybe it was at that moment that I realized that my real passion…was to design and create jewelry.”
Della Valle’s creations contain echoes of nature and inform his pieces. He loves to “observe something in the moment”, whether it be a palm tree or jellyfish; flower or animal. Della Valle works with sapphires, moonstones, tsavorite and peridot that are all brightly colored gemstones.
He became famous for his unusual style: designing palm trees brooches constructed from tsavorite, garnet and peridot; an emerald, ivy necklace with the leaves set with circular cut emeralds; a pair of yellow sapphire and tsavorite ear clips each composed as a knot of leaves and flowers known as Limoni.
He’s also known for a flower shaped ruby and diamond ring, its petals set with circular cut rubies and brilliant cut diamonds, a Tinkerbell brooch crafted as an overflowing basket of flowers made of turquoise, white gold and diamonds, and an ethereal octopus assembled from sapphires, diamonds and pearls in various shades of blue all mounted in white gold.
Della Valle’s combinations of these unexpected shades and use of unusual materials and themes have defined him as a modern craftsman of unprecedented originality. He continues to create and design from his studio in Geneva, Switzerland.