Jewelry designer Roberto Faraone Mennella died Thursday after fighting cancer for almost a year. He was 48.
The news of his death was communicated through a touching Instagram post by his childhood friend, former boyfriend and business partner Amedeo Scognamiglio, who established with Faraone Mennella the Faraone Mennella jewelry brand in 2001, which now operates stores in New York and Capri.
“My best friend, my rock, my mentor, my ‘eyes,’ my first date and endless love is now Light,” wrote Scognamiglio, commenting on a picture of him and Faraone Mennella taken in Capri. “Roberto is finally free, healthy, smiling, happily sketching jewels and interiors in his new home in Heaven. He wanted to go before me, so that when my time comes our house and showroom in the sky will be ready to welcome me and my mess.”
Born in Torre del Greco, a town close to Naples, Faraone Mennella studied law in Italy before moving to New York to attend Parsons The New School for Design, where he earned a degree in design marketing.
Joined in the Big Apple by Scognamiglio, the duo started building a name for themselves with the high-quality and joyful jewelry creations of the Faraone Mennella line, which quickly captured the attention of stylist Patricia Field who featured them in “Sex and the City.”
Supported by enthusiastic media coverage, the brand caught the attention of prestigious retailers, including Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, which became loyal partners of the label.
In 2004, Faraone Mennella and Scognamiglio kicked off a five-year collaboration with New York-based designer Carolina Herrera, creating one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by her couture gowns. The success of the partnership pushed the Italian jewelers to launch in 2005 the Faraone Mennella Couture Collection.
The following year, Faraone Mennella and Scognamiglio introduced the Amedeo line of modern cameos, a tribute to Scognamiglio’s family heritage in cameo artisanal making, while, in 2013, the designers launched a more affordable fashion jewelry diffusion line, called Roberto by RFM, which Faraone Mennella with his natural elegance and charming manners successfully sold through Home Shopping Network in the U.S. and on QVC internationally.
“We all called them ‘the boys’, Amedeo and Roberto, inseparable at Bergdorf’s on Lexington, at secret Italian restaurants all over New York City, in Capri. These two childhood friends came and revolutionized the jewelry business with their trademark hoops and discreet gold chains,” said Stelline Volandes, editor in chief of Town & Country and editorial director of Elle Decor. “The last time I saw Roberto was this time last year. I walked by the store in Capri and there he was, fixing a display — he was as meticulous about the way jewelry was presented as about how it was designed — and he was there, in the most elegant linen, as gorgeous and and witty as ever. This is heartbreaking news.”
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Roberto’s passing. He was a beautiful man and person in every sense of the word. He remained unchanged in his passion for beauty and design over the many years we have worked together. I can still picture him on the jewelry floor at Bergdorf’s working with his hands and smile with his beloved clients. He really cared about them, as they were both his muses and friends,” said Bergdorf Goodman fashion director Linda Fargo. “Between he and Amedeo, they brought a modernized yet sensuous sensibility to the fine jewelry business. He made a difference in the field of jewelry, and was a warm and wonderful person to work with. No more words.”
“His spirit and talent will be hugely missed in the jewelry world. I remember visiting Roberto and Amedeo in their elegant showroom, and they had such a special partnership and passion for their work,” said editor and jewelry expert Jill Newman. “Roberto was a gifted designer who created glamorous and contemporary jewelry, and he was kind.”
“Roberto was not only a dear friend, but also a well-educated gentleman and dreamer, almost from another era. A true inspiration,” said fashion photographer Lorenzo Bringheli, who collaborated in many occasions with Faraone Mennella and Scognamiglio.
Faraone Mennella is survived by his father Renato, his mother Hannelore and his sister Anoushka. A private service will take place at the designer’s family chapel in Torre del Greco. “Elegant and discreet forever,” as Scognamiglio wrote in his post.