Naples holds a place in my heart. I’m sorely missing it since we’ve been in lockdown in Rome. I miss weaving through her narrow streets, snacking on pizza al portafoglio, drinking coffee and discovering small unique shops like Tentakoli. The vibrant colors and styles of jewelry and bijoux created by the lovely owner Paola Russo (pictured above) are unique and make a great gift or personal purchase. I had a chance to talk with Paola as lockdown started in Italy. I hope you enjoy meeting Paola and her shop Tentakoli as much as I did.
Casa Mia: Please tell us a little bit about you and how you started Tentakoli?
Paola Russo: As a child I always “played” with creativity: from bijoux to sewing, from embroidery to knitting. As I grew up, like many others, I put my creativity aside to pursue a more conventional career. I was a travel agent for about 20 years before finding a job in marketing that allowed me to stay closer to my family.
Tentakoli started as a challenge. In 2009, during a vacation, I met a famous Italian actress. This meeting changed my life. Her admiration for my jewelry (which I had continued to make for myself), her advice and her encouragement urged me to dedicate more time to my passion in my free time. This later became my new job. It took years of studying, sleepless nights, sacrifice and research to find the best materials for my jewelry designs: finally I understood that resin was my material.
CM: How did you choose the name Tentakoli?
PR: Bijoux, as I see it, is a distinctive accessory created with taste and elegance. It can be alluring, captivating and, why not, seductive. Notoriously tentacles have the function of seducing and capturing; a grip from which you can hardly free yourself. From this concept comes the name Tentakoli®.
CM: What is the philosophy behind the jewelry? Where does your inspiration come from?
PR: The Tentakoli® line is mainly inspired by women: eccentric or conventional, classic or modern, delicate or energetic, visionary or concrete. But all with a common denominator: color! The style is generally inspired by the 50s, 60s and 70s, a time frame that I’ve always loved. Since my adolescence, my father passed on to me his passion for the great Hollywood musicals, jazz, soul, blues, swing. Still today this music is the soundtrack during my work days.
My small shop is in the heart of the historic center of Naples. Streets, buildings, works of art, people… inspiration is in the air! Since opening here I created my best pieces.
CM: We love your necklaces, earrings and rings! We especially love the necklaces with strands twisted together. The one which uses three colors of coral strands is gorgeous. Which three pieces of jewelry are the most popular? Do you have three personal favorites?
PR: Among the most loved, without doubt is the POP ART©, clearly inspired by the 70s. The colors of the necklace are inspired by Andy Warhol’s “Vesuvius”. Another creation that is very successful is YELLOW FACE©, inspired by our beloved patron: Saint Gennaro. The upper red part, the Miter, for its stylized shape, is a drop of blood representing the Miracle of San Gennaro. The lower golden part, on the other hand, represents the face of the saint. The MAGNET© series, in great demand, is a fun collection made up of RingNet©, rings with interchangeable colors; Necknet©, necklaces with interchangeable colors; Earnet©, earrings, and pendants with interchangeable colors.
It’s difficult to choose a favorite. Each piece is the result of study, experimentation, mistakes, attempts, after which I try to create an almost perfect piece. Each piece has its own unique story. It’s like asking “which child is your favorite?” …it’s impossible to answer. However, I can say that I particularly love the rich and very colorful shapes that I create with unusual color contrasts. An example is the latest necklaces from the Fibula© series, a rich interweaving of faceted or smooth pearls that fit into an ornamental buckle.
CM: How do you advise a client to choose jewelry when they visit your shop in person or online?
PR: Whoever passes in front of my small shop is struck by lightening, both women and men. How can I blame them? The variety of shapes and colors would catch anyones eye. If you’re not familiar with resin, here are a few things to note:
- It’s the only synthetic material that can perfectly imitate every natural element, from wood to stone, from glass to semi-precious stones. And there are many more.
- It’s an extremely light material, so even the richest creation do not weigh more than 200 grams
- It’s very resistant and, if treated with care, it doesn’t become opaque and does not scratch, retaining its beauty over time.
CM: Is there anything that you’d like to say to our readers?
PR: I craft each component and produce in Italy. So I can proudly say that Tentakoli® jewelry and bijoux creations are totally MADE IN ITALY. Given the great work behind each creation and the their exclusivity, Tentakoli® manages to maintain excellent value for money.
CM: Small artisans like yourself are experiencing the negative effects of the Coronavirus as we at Casa Mia Tours are. With your business, we imagine that it would be helpful if clients purchased online. Is your jewelry available online? Do you ship worldwide? What is your return policy?
The site is currently under construction. Contact me via Instagram or Facebook and orders can be made via WhatsApp and email. We ship all over the world. Costs, of course, vary from country to country. Up to now I have never had a return but should a customer wish to return an item he/she has 14 days from the date of delivery. Return costs are charged to the customer.