The Milanese jeweller’s first female CEO also talks about how the pandemic has impacted the business and debuting the Pomellato’s first high jewellery collection during the lockdown.
Founded by Pino Rabolini in 1967, Pomellato was ahead of the curve when it created prêt-à-porter jewels for the new, liberated woman in a time when the world of fine jewellery was conservative and reserved only for society’s upper crust.
Rabolini’s novel concept was a success. His vision and artisanal skill – handed down from his goldsmithing family – quickly became the basis for Pomellato’s dynamic designs, unconventionality and Italian craftsmanship that women the world over have come to love today.
The Milanese jeweller’s most iconic collections boast myriad hues and tactile creations that incorporate innovation, unexpected gemstones and settings. Among these include the copyrighted Nudo ring that features the naked splendour of a gem with 57 facets, as well as the opulent Ritratto, which showcases richly coloured gemstones framed portrait-style like a painting. Special mention also goes to the house’s wide variety of gold chains, each meticulously hand-crafted by one of over 100 artisans using goldsmithing methods employed since the brand’s inception.
It is evident that Pomellato isn’t unconventional because its marketing plans dictate so. Being unconventional is in its DNA, and this reverberates across the multitude of styles that have been created over more than 50 years. Symbols of independence, free-spiritedness and even rebellion, Pomellato jewels continue to personify the empowered woman.
We speak to Sabina Belli, the maison’s CEO since 2015, on continuing Rabolini’s legacy, dealing with the impact of the pandemic on the business and the importance of forging ahead with women’s rights.
The pandemic caused seismic shifts in almost every business. How has Pomellato tackled and adapted to its impact?
The past two years have been a difficult time at a global scale, but there is optimism and positivity now. The luxury market was affected by the lack of luxury shopping by travellers. In this context, technology was key and it’s been a tool that’s helped nurture client relationships in new ways. We’re witnessing an acceleration in digital shopping. Consumers now are very digitally savvy, well informed and more inclined than ever to buy jewellery online, even for higher ticket items. They’re looking for newness, uniqueness and exclusivity.
Pomellato has a different concept compared to traditional luxury jewellery as we’re able to combine understatement and playfulness with sophistication. It’s the joy that comes from wearing a valuable piece of fine jewellery every day that gives Pomellato its edge. And with an increasing appreciation for eco-conscious and socially aware brands and products, ethics is important to consumers. Pomellato is one of the first jewellery brands to achieve 100 per cent purchasing of responsible gold.
Do you resonate with the brand’s core values as Pomellato’s first female CEO?
Pino Rabolini’s vision was expressed through “accessible” jewellery designed for self-reliant, independent women who wanted to buy their own jewellery. It was in that unique environment that a modern concept of jewellery was born, introducing the notion of ready-to-wear, much like what was happening in fashion at the time.
Pomellato is about the beauty of being yourself, which in a world that often manipulates women’s feelings and the way we look at ourselves in the mirror, or feel about our position in society, is liberating. It gives a sense of power, independence and strength. This drive and these founding values remain and resonate even more broadly today. They are the core of our positioning and our growth strategy. I carry this legacy with pride.
Tell us more about Pomellato’s first high jewellery collection that debuted last year.
In the last few years, Pomellato’s range has evolved around the idea of upscaling existing lines by offering more elaborate pieces. This was in response to customer demand, which showed us that they were ready for larger, more sophisticated Pomellato pieces incorporating diamonds and rare gems.
When the pandemic slowed down our production facilities in 2020, we decided to use the time and our exceptional workforce – 110 master goldsmiths in Milan – to explore new possibilities. This was how our first high jewellery collection, La Gioia, was created.
Speaking of jewellery, which Pomellato pieces do you have a soft spot for and how do you like to wear them?
My collection of Nudo rings is for sure a favourite: I can play with their incredible colour palette and they’re the perfect day-to-night jewels. I like to mix and match my jewellery, so I tend to wear a statement ring from our Iconica collection or stacked Nudo rings. I love my Fantina earrings too because they make any ensemble look really chic. And I also wear necklaces often… Pomellato offers an array of fabulous chains.
You’re a strong advocate for female empowerment. How do you put that across in your position and Pomellato’s collections?
Women have always been at the centre of the Pomellato universe: 74 per cent of our workforce are women and so is the majority of our customers. As a woman and CEO, female empowerment is a much more important task than a business goal. I encourage and strive to provide equality and equal career opportunities for our employees. I want to give them
the motivation to make them believe in what they are capable of as passionate and professional people. Gender should not be a problem at work and beyond.
You launched Pomellato For Women in 2017, among other CSR initiatives. What are your hopes for them?
Being among the 5 per cent of female CEOs in the world, I felt the responsibility to spread a message that could empower other women by encouraging and supporting them. The role of women in society was changing radically when the brand was founded in 1967. Pomellato broke the rules of traditional jewellery to meet the needs of the newly assertive, independent woman. We wanted to strengthen this aspect by creating a community of women of all ages and backgrounds to inspire each other.
Pomellato For Women is exactly this. It’s a communication platform that unites and gives a voice to a community of like-minded women from different walks of life. We want to celebrate the diversities and the authenticity of womanhood in all its richness.
Another initiative I’m proud of is the sponsorship of Pomellato Virtuosi. Launched in partnership with Galdus Goldsmith Academy, it provides programmes, seminars and apprenticeships to promising young artisans in Milan to safeguard the precious art of jewellery-making. Along with the expertise of our Pomellato artisans, we can now support and invest in the future generations of craftsmen and craftswomen.
(All images: Pomellato)