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Alba Cappellieri. Eclectic, exuberant and volcanic

Eclectic, exuberant and volcanic. These three words describe Alba Cappellieri, jewelry professor and researcher. Trained as an architect with extensive experience in the United States, an unexpected change of events made her a point of reference in the gold industry. A professor of jewelry design at Milan Polytech, today she also teaches at Stanford University and as of 2014 is director of the new Jewelry Museum in Venice.

Ritratto in studio di Alba Cappellieri

You are an architect. How did you enter the world of jewelry?

After graduating and obtaining my PhD, I moved to the United States and between New York and Chicago where I pursued my specialization. In 1999 I decided to go back to Italy and was offered a job at a jewelry firm. That was the beginning of an incredible adventure.

What was your groundbreaking idea?

Up to then, jewelry was completely excluded from the world of design. Once in Milan I started asking myself how jewelry could become a project, then I stripped it of its cliché and in 2004, after 38 years at the “Jewel Design” fair, I brought jewelry back to the Milan Triennial.

What does teaching mean for you?

It is a pathway made up of education and instruction combined. But teaching also means learning: it’s an exchange.

You were born in Naples. What is your relationship with your hometown?

I’d say it’s profound. I would love to go back there but sometimes I feel like the city has given up. But it still produces great talent. Maybe it will change one day, if the private sector will ever start supporting the public sector.

It would be interested to know how you spend your spare time but looking at your resume’ maybe you don’t have much – is that the truth?

I don’t have much and what spare time I have I spend with my two children. I turn off my phone on the weekends and dedicate all my time to them.

What advice can you give young people?

When I went back to Milan, if I hadn’t had the guts to change I would never have succeeded in life. This requires humility and flexibility, then you can discover your own talent.

Are education and training enough?

On their own they are not sufficient. Theory needs to be combined with market awareness.

What was your dream when you were a child?

It came true. I became a teacher.


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