Time Teller: Making the Most of Every Second with Anna Maccieri Rossi

Time is the most precious commodity that money can’t buy, which is why I was intrigued to discover a jewellery designer infusing works of finery with watch movements as an allegory for seizing the moment. Hailing from Italy, Anna Maccieri created her self-titled brand after a long and successful career in luxury watch design for the likes of Cartier, Jaeger-Le Coultre, Bulgari, Tiffany & Co. and Ferragamo. These experiences gave her a unique perspective on the theme of time, which is aptly reflected in her newest collections: Carpe Diem and Night and Day. Here, I would like to introduce you to Anna and share some of the formative experiences that have shaped her poetic approach to hours, minutes and seconds…

As a child, Anna’s safe space was in her mother’s jewellery shop, which she describes as an environment full of art and creativity. The wider world was opened to her through gemstones and the many colourful minerals that entered her family’s store from the far corners of the globe. It was this that inspired Anna’s first career ambition – to be a travel journalist, exploring the world, writing stories, and having adventures. However, fate had different plans. One day, by fate or chance, she came back to her city, Reggio Emilia, to help her mother during the summer. She realised that the art of jewellery might be her passion after all and so began a pursuit of knowledge in technical design and gemmology. 

Fine jewellery designer Anna Maccieri Rossi

Her training took her to Le Art Orafe in Florence and to the Creative Academy in Milan, which is a school of the Richemont Group. There, she studied jewellery and watchmaking and secured real-life experience through an internship at one of Richemont’s most beloved brands, Cartier. Next came the chance to work as a designer at Jager LeCoultre as a jewellery and watch designer. “It was an unmissable opportunity,” Anna tells me. “It was a bit scary leaving Milan and then Paris to go to the middle of nowhere in Switzerland, but the challenge was fantastic for a 26-year-old! I spent five years there, and it was an incredible experience.”

A model wears earrings from the Art Colore collection by Anna Maccieri Rossi and (right) the Art Colore Half an Hour earrings with hand-painted mother of pearl and diamonds in 18k yellow gold

Skip forward a few years, and Anna had journeyed deep into the world of watches. There was something about the power of movement, the preciousness of time itself, and encasing the passing of seconds in luxurious surroundings that had her hooked. She says: “All that experience put a seed in my mind. I started to connect movement, jewellery and watches, and I was starting to question why we don’t use watch movements to tell stories rather than just the hours and the minutes.” But before she could act on these ideas, more big brand experiences came along, including periods at Bulgari and Tiffany & Co. “I was feeling the urgency to express my unique point of view,” Anna says of this time. “It felt like a necessity to share my own identity, so at the end of 2018, I decided to launch my own brand. My goal was to tell a story of change, of transformation – a story about time itself.”

Anna Maccieri Rossi Carpe Diem Believe pendant with a quartz watch movement and green painted mother of pearl ‘dial’ in 18k yellow gold, set on a necklace of kunzite beads

Today, all Anna Maccieri Rossi jewellery, which is crafted in Italy, is “deeply inspired by the theme of time”. On her website, she describes the importance of not taking time for granted, paying tribute to memory, seizing the present moment, and pursuing the future through an active imagination. The result is a collection that’s soft, feminine and ideal for everyday wear… but with a twist, of course! Take the Carpe Diem collection, for example, which houses a watch movement inside a talismanic pendant charm to move a small star or heart-shaped element in time with each passing second. Anna explains: “The storytelling, the fact that everything is authentic, is very important. That’s why Carpe Diem is one of my favourite collections. I took advantage of a simple quartz watch movement, not to tell you the perfect time, but to remind the wearer that time is precious.” 

Listening to Anna tell the story behind her Carpe Diem collection is a reminder of how many designers think poetically, not just aesthetically. The design itself is neat and minimalistic, but Anna is more focused on “creating a culture around these pieces”. She continues: “I wanted to create something magic with a spark of the unexpected. You can see that the star is moving in a piece, but you have to look at it closely – you need to stop and take notice – which is such a metaphor for life! I wasn’t simply designing a nice pendant, but something far more intimate.” Since launching the collection, Anna has noticed similarities among the clients who purchase Carpe Diem pendants, notably the fact that they are “open souls” who are drawn to the messaging and poetry of her creations. The possibility of customised Carpe Diem designs for these devotees is also on the horizon; the ‘ticking’ star at the centre of each pendant can be changed to a heart or four-leafed clover, while the ‘dial’ can offer a variety of colours and techniques, such as hardstone inlay, hand-painting, carved mother of pearl and so on. 

Speaking of hand-painting, this is another signature of the Anna Maccieri Rossi brand that she has adapted from traditional watchmaking artistry. The challenge, in this instance, was creating a hand-painted surface that didn’t require the domed protection of sapphire crystal glass. Fortunately, Anna was able to work closely with her artisans to perfect a technique using transparent lacquer. The result is dreamy yet hardwearing displays of fluffy white clouds on beautiful blue skies in the ART Dreamy collection and watercolour-like floral blooms in the ART Colore offering. Both have a whimsical, romantic vibe that showcases the poetic side of the brand beautifully. 

Another important collection in the brand’s repertoire is Night and Day, which takes its lead from the contrasting tones of aventurine glass and mother of pearl. Some pieces are reversible, so the wearer can choose midnight bluish-black hues or lustrous white across pendants, earrings and the striking Night and Day Full necklace, which is a real showstopper. The range also includes a series of Loop creations, with rotating four-sided elements that have four different faces – mother of pearl, aventurine glass, brushed gold and engraved stripes in gold – all to denote the passing of time. “The shapes in the Night and Day collection are very strong, powerful and modern,” Anna says. “Although there isn’t a watch movement, you can still express the passing of time through playful movement. I love the fact that you could go out in the morning with your jewellery one way and then go home in the evening with it looking different. It is changing with you, which I feel is important for women today.”

Finally, I couldn’t resist asking Anna about her Buttoned Up collection of jewelled button covers, which are a throwback to the past in many ways. “A long time ago I received a box from my grandfather with some of these button covers from the 1970s,” Anna says. “I rediscovered them around two years ago, and so I started to think about how I might reinterpret them in the Anna Maccieri Rossi style.” She began by channelling her watch design experience, tinkering with the mechanism, assessing the functionality, and focusing on the theme of time through memories of the past, imagined for the future. She continues: “I love heritage. We have a great history, especially in Italy and Europe, where we breathe art and storytelling everywhere. It is easy for us to be inspired by our roots. Playing with this element gave me the idea of reinvigorating the button covers for a new generation.”

Looking ahead, Anna now plans to journey “more deeply into movement” and hints at plans to incorporate another type of movement into an upcoming collection. She tells me: “There are endless possibilities. In a world so full of beautiful jewellery and watches, I feel drawn to create objects from memories, from the past, to create new innovations and remind people that time is precious.” We look forward to seeing what poetic interpretation of hours, minutes and seconds Anna comes up with next.  

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