The Creation of the Paradiso Collection: Jewellery Inspired by Art

The Creation of the Paradiso Collection: Jewellery Inspired by Art

Setting the Stage

In a world where art and literature often collide in serendipitous ways, the story of Salvador Dali's interpretation of Dante's Divine Comedy stands as a testament to the power of creative minds spanning different epochs coming together. Commissioned in 1950 to commemorate the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri's birth, Dali set out to create 100 watercolour paintings to illustrate the epic poem. This monumental task not only showcased Dali's unique ability to visualize the surreal and the divine but also marked a journey through the afterlife that has captivated the imagination of artists, writers, and thinkers for centuries.

Dante's Divine Comedy, an allegorical tale of the soul's journey towards God, is divided into three parts: ‘Inferno’, ‘Purgatorio’, and ‘Paradiso’. Each segment offers a rich tapestry of imagery, themes, and moral questions that have inspired countless interpretations across various media. 

Dali, with his flamboyant style and fascination with dreams and the subconscious, brought a new dimension to Dante's words, transforming them into vivid, surreal landscapes filled with symbolic imagery. His body of work on the Divine Comedy is a blend of his deep respect for the classical world and his own unique visionary capabilities.

Inspiration for the Paradiso Collection

The inception of my new Paradiso Collection was not just an artistic endeavour but a visceral experience, sparked by a profound encounter with Dali's exhibition in Toronto. Recommended by a friend, this show became a gift from the Muse for me, a domino effect where inspiration flowed from Dante to Dali, and then humbly, to me. The intimate scale of Dali's works, akin to the intimacy of jewellery, drew me in, making me feel alive and compelled to translate this experience into wearable art.

Dali’s unique perspective on paradise, full of colour, feeling, and joy, perfectly complements the narrative and aesthetic of my work. His intuitive method reflects a freedom from the ego-mind that resonates deeply with my approach to jewellery design. My creations are inspired by the organic forms of nature and the painterly quality of gemstones, each piece handcrafted to reflect the soul's journey.

Approaching the design process for this collection, I envisioned it as one large narrative divided into three capsules, each with a distinct colour story inspired by the progression through Dante's realms. You can still view pieces from Inferno, the first of the three capsules. Then came Purgatorio.

Dante and Dali's Paradiso

In ‘Paradiso’, the final and most sublime segment of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, the narrative transcends the earthly bounds and the torments of purgatory to embark on a celestial voyage through the heavens. 

Here, Dante, guided by his eternal muse, Beatrice, is taken through the nine spheres of Heaven, each representing a different virtue and order of blessed souls. This journey is not just one of sight and sound but of profound enlightenment, where the poet is confronted with the ultimate truths of faith, the structure of the cosmos, and the very essence of divine Love. The vivid imagery and complex symbolism of ‘Paradiso’ reflect a universe ordered by Love, where light and harmony prevail, and the soul's oneness with God is finally fulfilled. 

In this realm of ineffable beauty and wisdom, Dante's vision culminates in a direct encounter with the Divine, an experience that transcends words and embodies the soul's union with the eternal. ‘Paradiso’ is thus a poetic exploration of spiritual ecstasy and the human longing for the divine, offering readers a glimpse into the sublime majesty of the afterlife.

Salvador Dali's take on ‘Paradiso’ is notably infused with his characteristic surrealist technique, transforming Dante’s celestial vision into a series of ethereal, dream-like landscapes that capture the imagination with their vivid, otherworldly beauty and intricate symbolism.

My Interpretation of Paradiso

Similarly, my final capsule in this collection, Paradiso, represents a heavenly ascent, its palette a culmination of the journey. The jewellery collection saw me embracing a more extensive use of gold and introducing new materials, such as high-grade opals and for the first time, 22k gold, adding a new layer of luxury and depth to my work. If you're not familiar with 22k gold, it's almost pure gold but slightly more durable, making it more conducive to regular wear and has a luminescent golden hue.

One piece that vividly embodies the essence of Dali's themes are the Beatrice Earrings, with their painterly aquamarine drops and coral beadwork inspired by ancient Roman jewellery. Like Dali's brushstrokes, the aquamarine tells a unique story of clouds and celestial dreams, while their hand-faceted shapes flow sensually, embracing authenticity and the beauty of imperfection. This pair of earrings, among the other pieces, is a testament to finding balance in design and depth of feeling, much like Dali's masterful compositions.

Beatrice Earrings

Translating the ethereal themes of Paradiso into jewellery inspired by art was an exercise in trust—trusting in the spontaneous arrangement of stones to convey the collection's celestial narrative. While there were challenges, such as balancing ambition with the practicalities of a small studio practice, the collection unfolded with a natural grace, guided by the inherent beauty of the selected gemstones.

Looking Beyond Paradiso

Looking beyond the Paradiso Collection, I'm drawn to the idea of continuing to explore the intersection of art and literature in my work. My background as a painter and my love for the gestural and whimsical qualities of brushwork will continue to inspire my future collections. The painterly has always been a source of inspiration for me, and as my artistic tastes evolve, so too will the narratives captured in my jewellery.

When someone wears a piece from the Paradiso Collection, I hope they feel a sense of freedom and authenticity, a lightness and joy inspired by the collection's celestial hues and the earthy warmth of its metals. It's an invitation to express oneself authentically, to embrace the effervescence of life, and to carry a piece of the celestial journey with them.

Opal Stud Earrings

This collection, inspired by the transcendent beauty of Dali's Paradiso, marks not just a chapter in my journey as a jewellery designer but a milestone in my exploration of the profound connections between art, nature, and the human spirit. It's a bridge between the tangible and the transcendent, inviting wearers to embark on a journey of self-discovery and sublime beauty.

Shop the Paradiso Capsule Collection here.

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