Hubert Burda Media

Friendship Circle

Known for her star-studded Rolodex, jeweller SILVIA DAMIANI schools us on her secret to making these friendships last

What do Sophia Loren, Eva Longoria and Sharon Stone have in common?
Each have at one point or another served as the face of Damiani, the Italian jewellery brand known for its lavish diamond pieces. All were handpicked to front the brand’s campaigns by Silvia Damiani — granddaughter of founder Enrico Damiani — who now counts these celebs among her illustrious circle of professional-acquaintances-turned-friends. Brad Pitt, Andrea Bocelli, Isabella Rossellini, Tilda Swinton and Gwyneth Paltrow are all fellow amici as well.
Based in Milan, where she works alongside her brothers Guido and Giorgio, the 49-year-old vice-president in charge of external relations was in town last October to host an exclusive VIP client dinner for the company’s 90th anniversary. A picture of elegance in a peach-and-gold dress with matching Damiani earrings, she tells Prestige: “Meeting all these talented individuals with various knowledge and experiences gives me the chance to learn from them. I feel very blessed to be doing this job.”
Choosing the right celebrities to front the brand boils down to a question of finding a right match, she adds. “You choose them but they also choose you. They are all very different but what they share is a natural sense of elegance.”
She maintains these relationships with a self-devised formula: Always be respectful, never be pushy and ask them out for coffee whenever you happen to be in the same area (“or a meal, if you have a closer relationship,” she advises). Of course, everyone is invited whenever the brand hosts its special events as well.
The importance of getting good brand ambassadors and spokespersons cannot be underscored. Due to these personalities’ star power, the Maison’s pieces they wear in public often sell out and, in some cases, inspire entirely new jewellery collections. For example, when Stone headlined her first Damiani campaign in 2008, wearing a one-of-a-kind Pareo necklace with black and white diamonds, it was snapped up almost immediately by a Shanghainese couple. And in 2005, when Paltrow matched a customised pair of 5-ct drop diamond earrings to her Stella McCartney gown at the Oscars, the earrings went on to inspire the wildly successful Juliet collection, named after the actress’s role as the ill-fated, love-struck Juliet in Shakespeare in Love (1998).
Unsurprisingly, Silvia’s friendships and close working relationships with the A-listers makes her a walking treasure trove of celebrity insights. For instance, while Loren is always professional, she also has a wicked funny bone.
“She is an excellent actress who I admire greatly — always fully prepared on set but knows when to tone down the seriousness to let her funny side show.” The duo naturally bonded over their shared love for food. “We loved to talk about and enjoy Italian food together, even while travelling for work,” she reminisces.
Rossellini, with her privileged background as screen royalty (she is the daughter of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman of Casablanca fame and Italian director Roberto Rossellini), “always has a kind of glow about her and a natural presence,” she says. “We were in Venice once and my back was turned against the door. She arrived and I knew without having to see or hear her enter.”
When we mention Pitt, whose collaboration with the brand (in designing a wedding band for then Mrs Pitt, Jennifer Aniston) resulted in a US$50 million lawsuit filed by the actor against Damiani in 2001 for allegedly breaching an exclusivity agreement, Silvia is unfazed. Clearly, whatever bad blood there was has now given way to water under the bridge. “He has a brilliant mind and aptitude for design and architecture,” she says fondly of him.
The lawsuit was eventually resolved, with Pitt even designing for the brand again — this time in 2010 for the D.Side collection. “When we were working together, he kept bombarding my younger brother Giorgio and I with questions. It was fantastic. He is a very modest person with a penchant for curiosity,” she adds.
Although happy to provide insight into the world of celebrity, Silvia refrains from revealing details that are too intimate. “Those in the jewellery industry are like doctors — we can never talk too much about our clients as we mostly deal with their personal lives. What is private, must be kept private.”
What she can disclose is that joining Longoria, the brand’s current muse, will soon be a top Asian male celebrity. “The company is making great progress in Asia with stores in China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and more. It makes good sense to choose a well-known Asian superstar. We are very excited,” she enthuses.
As are we.