Beauty in the Details
Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Nanis
There is a grace about Laura Bicego that cannot be contrived.
Fresh from a day in the Sardinian sun, her eyes shine brightly from behind her trademark oversized spectacles, and her smile is contagious. She is outspoken and passionate in characteristic Italian style, but it’s what’s not expected about Bicego that draws me in as she speaks.
Bicego is a woman’s woman. Her goal is to empower women through art, and her medium is 18-karat gold and beautiful organic stones.
Her company, Nanis Italian Jewels, features handcrafted jewelry that is such a far cry from mass-produced, homogenous designs that it reserves standing in art galleries and specialty stores from Amsterdam to New York.
November 8, Images Arizona magazine will sponsor a Nanis debut in Carefree at Grace Renee Gallery.
“I love to make women feel beautiful and sensual,” she explains. “Nanis is really a woman’s purchase. It’s something that needs a lot of sensibility and a woman’s touch.”
From the Beginning
Bicego knows from whence she speaks. Born into a jewelry-making family in Vicenza-Italy, a region renowned for jewelry-making for centuries, she spent much of her childhood learning first the technical aspects of jewelry-making in her father’s atelier before developing what can only be referred to as a “divine feminine” touch.
“As woman, I can better understand the needs of women,” she says. “A lot of my pieces are versatile and you can really play with them. They look good, but I also know as a woman that they have something much deeper that makes women feel good.”
Nanis designs are not only unique in the world of jewelry; they’re unique in Bicego’s own family. Her brother Marco is a renowned designer, but their styles contrast in many ways.
I ask Bicego about her brother’s work and she lovingly laughs. “He’s fantastic, but he’s a man. As a man, he cannot really understand what women want. Some details, some special things that we like very much—and sometimes the faults—make Nanis different and unique.”
Part of her magic lies in the conception. Instead of sketching designs with pencil and paper, as is tradition, Bicego prefers to work with her hands. She carefully crafts each strand and bead using simple tools, paying the ultimate attention to the smallest of details.
Nanis is known for innovation and quality. Because the stones are never synthetic or created in a factory, no two pieces are ever exactly alike.
“I am using a lot of different stones—organic stones like aquamarine. You will have exactly your own piece, not like anyone else’s,” she explains.
For women like me, who enjoy our own sense of style and individuality, these words are music to our ears.
More than Meets the Eye
To say Nanis designs are versatile is a bit of an understatement. Not only are they contemporary and simple enough to wear with everything from blue jeans to a little black dress, many of them can be turned or separated to create different looks, or even different pieces of jewelry.
Today, Bicego is wearing a necklace she designed that recently won an award in Monaco. She unclasps what appears to be a pair of intricate, decorative gold beads and holds it out for me to see.
“This is a bracelet and necklace—two pieces in one,” she explains, separating the links. “It is extraordinary. Women love to go out in morning and have a nice piece of jewelry, and go out for dinner at night. They want something different to make them feel good and perfect.”
Other pieces are just as remarkable. With the flip of a stone, a ring converts into something new. A twist of a chain turns a chain of gold into a remarkable statement piece.
“My new collection just launched, and it changes totally,” she says, holding out a hand so I can examine a ring from her Dancing in the Rain Reverse series. “The ring you can wear as a ring with big stone or with pavielle nuance of different colors. You can also wear it as a pendant. It’s really a lot of funky different pieces,” she grins.
Not only do many Nanis pieces transform; they also transform the women who wear them.
“Women are able to express themselves with my jewelry,” Bicego says.
As she speaks, it is clear that behind each new piece is a passion. It’s an excitement I’ve noticed in painters, sculptors and other artists. With that passion comes that “something extra” in the work: something felt more than seen. This is true for Bicego, and for her Nanis creations.
“I like things that you can change,” Bicego explains. “That’s beautiful. I also like softness, and the pieces are comfortable whenever you put something on,” Bicego says, showing me a pair of earrings with the same versatile, interchangeable night-to-day characteristics. These, she shows me, can have three completely different beautiful looks.
Perhaps it is the rich tone of pure 18-karat gold sculpted into intricate designs that catches my eye, or the earthy draw of natural aquamarines, diamonds, pink opals and moonstones. Nanis jewelry creates a sensual desire, and it’s unlike any jewelry I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps it’s because, like life, though it can adapt, the important things—the quality, the craftsmanship, and the brilliance—remain.
When Images Arizona publisher Shelly Spence met Bicego, she too was drawn to the quality and individuality of Nanis jewelry, so much so that she wanted to introduce her line at the magazine’s sister venture, Grace Renee Gallery.
“From the moment I first saw Laura’s work, I knew I wanted to help bring it to Carefree,” Spence said. “Laura elevates jewelry to a level I have not yet seen here: she creates art, and it’s completely unique and wonderful.
“Our area is unique in that people here don’t want something that everyone else has. Whether it’s artwork for their walls, ceramic pieces, sculptures or jewelry, they want high quality, unique pieces that represent who they are as individuals. Nanis captures that perfectly, and I’m confident that other women will be just as drawn to its beauty as I am.”
Grace Renee Gallery, located in Carefree’s historic Spanish Village, opens this month. It will include work by renowned artists Sam Pratt, Seth Fairweather, Kevin Irvin, Kathleen Hope, Christiane Barbato, Cecilia Calderon and more.
“Nanis compliments these artists beautifully because it is created from the same beautiful balance of breathtaking passion and incredible skill,” says Spence.
Bicego adds, “I think I will have great success. People seem to like very organic, natural pieces in Arizona. They’re refined. It’s not about ‘flashy,’ it’s about quality and being different—more sophisticated.”
I can’t wait to come. I really can’t wait,” she says. “My dream is to have a piece of jewelry a woman desires like she desires shoes or purses, to complete her outfit and make her feel beautiful.”
Laura Bicego Nanis Italian
Jewels Trunk Show
Grace Renee Gallery
Historic Spanish Village
7212 E. Ho Hum Rd. #7, Carefree
10 a.m.–6 p.m.