The primary objective of wearing jewellery is personal beautification and Gianmaria Carbognin is no stranger to this. Stand outside his eclectic boutique ‘Portofino,’ based at Eden Plaza in North East Mahe and try to fight the magnetic effect it has on you as it slowly pulls you to its doors. Its walls are adorned with graceful diaphanous silks and every corner is filled with leather goods hailing from quaint Italian villages, unheard of by most people. However, it is not these luxurious accessories, but the shimmering necklaces, bracelets and rings delicately arranged beneath the glass cases that makes Portofino a literal treasure chest. This is where visitors are promised to discover the most fashionable jewellery in Seychelles, with the boutique specialising in loose diamonds and fashion jewellery, plus a wide selection of ring styles, silver and silver necklaces for ladies.
It is in this visual delight that Gianmaria spends most of his time; conversing with the many local and foreign visitors who trek in and out of his boutique every day, searching for the perfect trinket. Each and every single one of his pieces are bold and daring, which is exactly how those closest to the designer would describe him; he exudes confidence and shows great knowledge and love for everything artistic. Aside from sketching his unique creations and bringing them to fruition, music also plays a large role in his life and it shows through his designs. Usually dressed simply in a white T- shirt, baseball cap and jeans, he describes his unpretentious style as a way to use his outfit as a canvas for the jewellery. This flare for the creative side is deeply rooted in Gianmaria’s family history; the Carbognin name has played an important and dominant role within the Seychelles’ jewellery business for over 30 years now.
Gianmaria’s mother, the flamboyant and well-loved philanthropist Mary Carbognin found her way into jewellery making after she left the Seychelles for Italy, her own mother wanting her to get a sense of the world outside of the quiet, tranquility of the islands she had become accustomed to. It was during Mary’s time in this new foreign land that she met her late husband Ricardo Carbognin, a jeweller and designer himself. After spending several years in Italy mastering and perfecting their art they decided to move back to the Seychelles to open their own design house.
As an adolescent, Gianmaria knew from the very get go that he too would follow in his parent’s footsteps and it did not take him long to choose a college once the time came. In 2004, very much like his mother many years before him, he left his little island home and enrolled at the famous Le Arti Orafe in Florence. Here Gianmaria’s passion grew with the new knowledge he acquired, such as metal casting, soldering and the study of all the great jewellery designers before him. While he was in Florence he made friends with fellow students who were studying to be fashion designers. These acquaintances aided him in learning which type of necklace best matched an A-Line dress or which earrings were better suited if one had their hair styled in a chignon. Aside from all of this, what Gianmaria excelled best at in his time at Le Arti Orafe was stone setting. This was a craft that neither his parent’s possessed and an exciting addition to his own and the family’s toolbox. In 2007 after graduating with a distinction, he returned to Seychelles ready to add his fresh new ideas to the Carbognin line.
Fast forward to present time and the name Gianmaria Carbognin can be seen tagged occasionally on the daily social media posts of Seychelles’s young fashion forward generation. His most famous line to date which draws its inspiration from the islands renowned Coco de Mer nut, suitably named Coco Candy has been a huge hit with locals and tourists alike.
Gianmaria’s jewellery symbolises the Seychelles culture and lifestyle and every piece of jewellery has a unique story to tell. His thirst for knowledge and passion for gemmology has made him one of the most original designers in Seychelles today. If you haven’t already visited, the next time you are in Seychelles, stop by his boutique on Eden island to experience the magical world of Gianmaria Carbognin first hand.