MILAN — During their first lockdown in Milan in the spring, friends Margherita Picardi and Gaia Venuti found the time to turn a dream into reality: establishing a jewelry brand with a distinctive attitude.
Picardi, a goldsmith and jewelry designer and owner of the Mapi Jewelry label, and Venuti, a well-known Milan-based creative entrepreneur, wanted to fill a gap in the market. “There are so many brands doing custom jewelry around, but there is not so much offering when it comes to fine jewelry with a twist,” said Venuti, who has founded a popular nail salon and who this summer will open a guest house on the remote island of Astypalea, Greece.
Combining Picardi’s technical skills with Venuti’s creative vision, the duo in November released the first designs of their own brand, called Eroina999. While the word Eroina, standing for “heroine” in English, evokes “powerful, tough women,” as Picardi explained, the number 999 references the purest form of gold. The brand’s collections include pieces where gold, in all its shades, is combined with colorful gems.
Eroina999’s adventure kicked off with the launch of “Brown Sugar,” a range featuring a necklace, a bracelet, a ring and earrings showing a bold 18-karat gold chain matched with citrine quartzes in a signature octagonal cut.
“Our jewelry pieces are not for everyone, in the sense that they are kind of bold and eye-catching, and they require a certain dose of personalty to be worn,” said Venuti. At the same time, Picardi noted that the aesthetic they are developing, which is linked to the jewelry style of the ’80s, is highly versatile. “Gaia and I are very different, our clients are very diverse, what we share is the same desire to play with jewelry and the fact that we don’t shy away from bright colors and bold shapes.”
Infusing irony and playfulness in their brand, Picardi and Venuti also conceived a summery, holiday variation of the “Brown Sugar” jewelry line, creating a necklace where an octagonal-cut citrine quartz or an amethyst are matched with a neon green sailing-inspired rope, while for a more minimal style, they developed the squared “Dude” gold earring crafted by combining traditional and innovative 3D techniques.
Spanning from 150 euros for a paper clip-inspired earring to 5,200 euros for an eye-catching ring combining white gold, amethyst and diamonds, Eroina999 is a direct-to-consumer business. “We sell the collections through our online store, but in this phase most of our clients are word-of-mouth and they get to know us through our personal and business connections,” said Venuti. As Picardi highlighted, the brand aims to develop a wholesale business, especially focused on luxury fashion stores.
While the brand doesn’t operate a bespoke service yet, at the same time Eroina999 enables the pieces to be personalized with initials or names. “We also give people the chance to have a specific style with a different stone, for example,” Picardi said. “However, since our pieces are all handmade and we use only high-end natural gems, we can say that each piece is sort of one-of-a-kind.”