Benedetta Dubini has coined her own unique niche in the contemporary jewellery marketplace with one-of-a-kind designs that derive their personality from the boldest characters of Greek and Roman history.
'As a collector I look at the size and at the actual piece as a whole,' explains the London-based jeweller of her bronze and silver coin collection that captures the history of a bygone era in their profiles. Adding, 'but what I am interested in mostly is the beauty of the face.'
Dubini's Empire collection repurposes these ancient coins for a new generation of collectors. 'What I like is that it's a sculpture and a piece of art, and today we can wear it,' she says. 'You think about its journey and the hands it has touched throughout the centuries, and the fact that it has been lying in a safe until now.'
A particular highlight is Dubini's Alexander the Great Medallion from Macedon 300 BC that's been studded with moonstones. 'The Romans believed that rays of light were captured in the stone and they had a very particular relationship with the moon and the goddesses,' she explains. 'The sun and the moon are what they lived by.'
The oldest piece in the collection that ranges from drop earrings to signet rings and cufflinks, is the Artemis Medallion from 167-148 BC, which she's jewelled with amethysts and citrines. 'It's not just getting a nice piece of jewellery, but actually getting something that has an added value, a background story,' she says, 'each one has a little legend.'
Dubini works with each coins natural patina: 'Over time the metals have reacted with oxygen and develop their own shades of brown, green and even white, which I then set against rose, white and yellow gold.'
'At the beginning I was inspired by a bracelet from my mother that had an Arabic coin on it,' she says, having studied jewellery design at Central Saint Martins, followed by the Gemological Institute of America. 'I travelled with my mother a lot, and I think the collecting comes from going into the bazaars when I was younger. The finer coin jewellery that I once saw is kind of disappearing and being replaced by very heavy and chunky pieces, yet today we want something understated.' The Italian is well aware of modern tastes having worked for Italian brand Pomellato and Carolina Bucci before going out on her own in 2014.
As a result, Dubini's rhodium plated sterling silver Constance rings convey a sculptural modernity, while her Emperor flip rings set with ancient bronze coins, possess a light-hearted playfulness. 'They are a conversation starter,' she adds, flipping her own pinky version about.