On The Rocks Magazine


Earthly Treasures


An ageless 14th-century poem is translated
into a dramatic golden language

“It’s the human aspect that’s so endearing,” says Rosh Mahtani, founder of Alighieri jewellery. “What that meant for our concept of the after-world – it’s mind-blowing. Before Dante, it didn’t exist. He gave it a face, interacted with it, humanised it and,
in the end, it wasn’t so black and white any more.” Wide-eyed and smiling, she is of course talking about The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri’s peerless 14th-century
poem, whose spiralling verse inspires each one of her gold-plated jewels.

Mahtani discovered jewellery by chance when she decided to try a one-day course in
wax carving shortly after graduating from Oxford in French and Italian. “I immediately fell in love with the material,” she explains. “For the first time, I found a language that made complete sense to me.” She now uses it to sculpt her personal life experiences
into organic shapes with an almost cathartic force. A broken bit from a jewel is given
a stronger backbone to become an earring; a softly moulded cuff disguises a small gap, mirroring moments of fragmentation in Dante’s narrative; another broken piece stands
as a single earring, a reminder that the best journeys are the ones that don’t go to plan.
“I was working on it for ages, and then it just broke,” says Mahtani. “So I named it the Odyssey earring because it reminded me of how sometimes you just have to go with
your mistakes and try not to plan too much.”

Regardless of her starting points – pain, loss, hope, love – Mahtani always finds her
way back to the Comedy, connecting her human journey with Dante’s voyage through the realms of the afterlife. “In the end, it’s all about storytelling. And how we really
cling to that, especially when the world is so unsettled and all we want to do is escape.”

This article originally appeared in Issue V of On The Rocks. 


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