Tamara Comolli has carved a niche in fine jewelry for her haute hippie designs and rare gem stones. Here the part-time Neapolitan shares a peek into her namesake brand and the good life.
How did your long-term relationship with Marissa Collections come about?
I had just begun building a presence in the U.S., when Marissa saw my little brochure in a New York showroom in the mid-Nineties and decided to take a chance on me. At the time, she hadn’t done fine jewelry, so this was a big leap of faith for both of us. She has a knack for discovering the next names in fashion, and this talent has translated well with fine jewelry over the years. You eventually rented a house a few blocks from the beach in Naples.
Why did you choose the city as a second home when you aren’t in Germany?
From the get-go I did trunk shows at Marissa. They became so frequent that I tired of staying in hotels and decided to put down roots eight years ago. The Gulf Coast isn’t as crowded as Southeast Florida.
Why has your jewelry resonated so well with the Naples crowd?
Its understated quality appeals to them versus Miami’s occasional show-off mentality. I combine 18K gold and precious gem stones with leather cords and other casual elements for pieces made in Italy. It’s classic but colorful, and never goes out of style, so ideal for collecting and adding on to previous purchases.
Is your concept to layer and add on?
It’s more about playing around like collecting our signature acorns in different colors and switching them out seasonally or bunching them together like charms on layers of pendants and bracelets. You see this look all over Ibiza, but what sets it apart is this is all high-end jewelry and not meant to appear messy. People love the variety of sizes, colors, stones and golds, too, and Marissa is really good about making sure clients have unique looks so no one wears the same thing to an event.
You’ve been working a lot with rose gold. What’s new there, as well as other materials?
Rose continues to be strong, selling as much as white gold this season. I’m pleased that yellow is coming back in because it looks beautiful against tan skin. Americans are getting away from white diamonds to embrace colored gem stones.
What are new styles for 2013?
To complement fashion’s lace resurgence, we launched the Lace ring. It’s also inspired by water droplet cut-outs that reveal bits of skin and are embellished with tiny, subtle diamonds. Other new styles are double leather bands and a more delicate version called the Loopy; though hippie chic, the larger Leather Loop can cost upwards of $10,000 depending on charms including peace signs, flowers and droplets.
What’s an impressive stone?
Tourmalines in otherworldly shades of blue, green and violet found in Mozambique. Usually naked to the eye, their embedded copper needles cast a magical glow. Since they’re rarer than diamonds, I use them for one-of-a-kind pieces. You’re known for sourcing unusual stones. How often to you travel to exotic locales as part of your mission? At least three times a year, I visit Asia to meet gem dealers in places as varied as hotel lobbies in Hong Kong and Bangkok to mines to ocean quarries such as where I found mottled jasper off the coast of Madagascar.
Much of your inspiration including your logo comes from water. Have you always had this connection?
I’m German but grew up near the Strait of Gibraltar in Spain. I live on a lake in Germany, too, but have been spending more time in Naples, for its wonderful weather and beach.
What else do you like about the Florida lifestyle?
My 9-year-old son and I fish for yellowtail snapper and grouper. This spring we caught a pufferfish, which made a great photo opp. Every day we carry our chairs to the beach like all the old people. It’s so calming to end the day with a glorious sunset.