Invoking a sense of the sea, whimsy and holiday, jewelry designer Tamara Comolli’s (right) aesthetic has come to epitomize the Southwest Florida lifestyle. Her designs are the essence of casual elegance: leathers set with diamonds, beaded wood bracelets arranged with rose gold, ocean jasper cut into candy drops—all exude luxury in a wearable way often not found with fine jewelry. And though these shapes, colors and gems give a sense of permanent beach holiday, Comolli is German-born and currently lives in Bavaria, a millieu more akin to the Sound of Music than the sandy shores of the Seychelles. But her childhood, a whirlwind of Mediterranean resort-leisure towns, helped instill the casual elegance and whimsy of her collection.
“It has a lot to do with my upbringing," Comolli says. "My father ran casinos, had a casino in Gibraltar and then in France. So my mother and we four kids traveled all over the world to follow Dad, and we were surrounded in this Mediterranean environment that always had this holiday feel for us,” adds Comolli, who strategically targets her markets with boutiques on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, the Hamptons, and her U.S. headquarters in Naples.
Though the sea seems to intertwine with Comolli’s vibe, she still holds Germany close, not only by living there, but with a boutique on the exclusive island of Sylt and another to open in Munich. To Comolli, Germany is home—and a strategic base of operations.
|Comolli (right) with members of her design team in Germany.|
“I like the country because its very homey, safe and a good place to raise your children,” says Comolli. “The spirit of the collection definitely comes from traveling and loving the beach and the water. [The beach] is where I would like to spend most of my time but unfortunately you have to work, too. The good thing about Germany is there are amazing goldsmiths here, the very best gemstone carvers are based here, and it’s great place to have a hub between America and Asia to do sourcing, production and distribution.”
It’s a practicality that helps explain the other half of Comolli—the business-driven realist. “I studied business and economics at university and went into consulting for luxury goods before starting the company,” says the designer, who started her eponymous line 22 years ago. “Since I was 12 I had a strong passion for gemstones, and I am really crazy about bracelets. I started my first little bracelet collection when I was 17 and tried to sell it, but my father said ‘don’t you start with this nonsense, you have to do something real and study.’”
So Comolli stuck with consulting, designing and creating jewelry for herself, until one day, at 29, she finally “got fed up” and took the plunge with her own business. But even then, she went into it with her own rules.
“It was always a clear vision of fine jewelry that was very different and quite daring at that time. I always had an understated approach to high-end jewelry. [Fine jewelry] was always intimidating and expensive; going into a jewelry store was quite an effort … no one quite understood the sense of casual luxury. I think, if you can afford it, just wear it … put a pair of diamonds on leather. I just did not understand that classic, over-the-top approach. So I wanted to do my own brand with my own vision … wearable, casual luxury. That’s how I built the brand in the end.”
Conitnue to page two for more with Comolli.