Emeralds from Brazil. Yellow sapphires from India. Diamonds from South Africa. Fine jewelry might not immediately have you thinking of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but sisters Kim and Nicole Carosella are hoping to change that.
The Carosella sisters are the proud founders of Sorellina, a new luxury jewelry design house out of Brooklyn that just launched this month. All pieces are bespoke custom-made luxury designs. They work with raw sapphires, vintage diamonds from the pre-1940s and other such stones, all of which can be crafted into one-of-a-kind designs.
Kim and Nicole pride themselves on 100 percent U.S. craftsmanship, with a focus on sustainability, as nearly all materials are recycled, reused or repurposed for later use. Environmentally-friendly fine jewelry? Who knew. Plus, with an active Pinterest board, featuring stunning pins of gemstones, red carpet looks and artistic inspiration, Kim and Nicole make the lavish life fun and accessible.
The sisters took time to discuss the opening of Sorellina with IBTimes Fashion & Life. They display a clear passion for their art and an acute knowledge of the craft, proving that jewelry is more than mere frosting, it's a key ingredient.
First, let me ask, what is in a name? Sorellina is a beautiful jewelry label.
Kim: Nicole and I wanted the name of our label to reflect the romanticism of our jewelry while paying homage to our Italian family heritage. We chose the name Sorellina because it means younger or smaller sister in Italian. I am younger, but Nicole is shorter, and we loved that it applied to us both.
Ok, so how did you two sisters wind up working on a jewelry line together? Has this always been the dream?
Kim: Absolutely. We come from a very entrepreneurial family. I have always wanted to start my own company and follow in my father's footsteps. Nicole is an incredible artist and just loves creating. A few years ago when she began school at FIT and I saw the first pieces of jewelry she created, I knew Sorellina was our future.
Luxury jewelry in Brooklyn -- does this stand out in a land of vintage shops and lanyard bracelets? How do you make it work?
Kim: The reason why Williamsburg, in particular, is currently so popular is because much of its roots come from the art and design community. In that sense, I think we are a perfect fit for the neighborhood. Also Brooklyn is very diverse. There are lanyard-wearing hipsters but also yuppies pushing strollers. Even though very different, I think all Brooklynites appreciate locally produced goods, and that's what we are. We are 100 percent American made and the majority of our goods are manufactured here in New York.
You definitely cater to a specific clientele, as your prices range from $2,000 to $75,000. What makes your line different from, say, other luxury lines like Tiffany & Co., Bidermann or Roberto Marroni?
Kim: Sorellina jewelry is inspired art. Nicole is an artist in a range of disciplines from photography to sculpture to painting. She pulls from all of her backgrounds when designing a piece and it transcends typical jewelry, becoming wearable art. Each piece has a hand sculptured feel to it, is made of a mix of metals and includes small intricacies whether it's an interesting gallery or a hidden stone or butterfly. We use metals in an unconventional way because they are used for their color not for their specific worth. We use a lot of Yellow Gold, Rose Gold and Platinum but also use a lot of oxidized Silver, which creates the look of steel. Lately, we have been using a lot of Gold and Palladium alloys to create a rich grey color. A lot of thought and consideration is put into each piece because we want each piece to be special for our customers. Secondly, we are exclusively produced in the U.S. Nicole and I strongly believe in American craftsmanship and are proud of the level of quality that is produced. The fact is, most jewelry companies send their manufacturing overseas.
Who is the woman wearing Sorellina? How does she dress; where does she socialize; what is her persona?
Kim: To me, the Sorellina woman is passionate and has a lust for life. She is an independent, modern-day woman that appreciates and enjoys the rich culture of a big city. Her innate style is her own: she has refined taste coupled with an unabashed affinity for the unexpected. She is a style maven with a clear, cool and daring poise. While I have a very specific vision of her in my head, I think the quality that stands out most is confidence. Our pieces are bold, statement pieces that should be worn by someone with their shoulders back and head held high.
Describe to us the crafting process. How long is the process for each
Nicole: The length of time to create a piece varies. Some pieces take several months to come into fruition while others are relatively quickly produced within two months. Each piece begins with an initial sketch or a sculpture that I will make out of clay or wax. Depending on the type of design, Kim and I discuss which manufacturer is best equipped to produce the piece. Each manufacturer has different strengths, whether it's complex engineering or intricate stone layouts. Once we choose the manufacturer, we go over the sketch, create a CAD model, grow the wax of the model, then make a silver version of the model and then finally the piece is made in its proper metal and stones are set. Between each phase of production, I bring the model, wax and silver back to my studio in Williamsburg and go over each piece to add additional hand carvings and make sure it is my exact vision. Some pieces have a quick turnaround time while others have to repeat a few stages several times before coming out exactly how I want them to look and feel.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? There seem to be many exotic motifs in the collection, like serpents and draped detailing.
Nicole: For me, inspiration doesn't come from one place. I am constantly inspired by my surroundings and my personal experiences. I do, however, have a great fascination with the Victorian era, specifically Queen Victoria. The use of serpents comes directly from that time period. They represent wisdom but also eternal love, which was illustrated by Queen Victoria's continuous love of Prince Albert even 40 years after his death.
Which piece of jewelry from the Sorellina collection can you not live without?
Kim: I can't seem to take the Otto Two Tone Bracelet off. One side is oxidized Silver with Yellow Gold accents and the other side is Yellow Gold with oxidized Silver accents and pavèd diamonds. I find myself switching sides for a different look all day.
Nicole: I wear the Axl Bracelet almost everyday. I wear it from day to night and the clasp opens by having the snakes kiss, which I just love.
Should the jewelry make the outfit or just complement it?
Nicole: I think jewelry makes the outfit because I believe jewelry can transform an outfit. You can throw on jeans and a white T-shirt and put on the Axl Marquise earrings and all of a sudden give off an entirely different persona. I love that about jewelry. I personally build my outfits around which jewelry I feel like wearing.
Give us some tips on how to perfectly style for these summer events -- outdoor festival, beach-side cocktail party, a vacation abroad?
Nicole: I love bold Yellow Gold jewelry for any summer event. For an outdoor festival, I would pair a maxi dress with a big cocktail ring, like the Otto Cocktail Ring. For a beachside cocktail party, I love statement earrings like the Luna Gold Petal Earrings.
Kim: When traveling, it's important to bring jewelry that you can wear from day to night or wear in multiple ways. We just finished the Axl Tassel Serpente Earrings, which are oversized studs with a removable tassel attachment. The studs are perfect for day, and add the tassel at night.