A black and white portrait of a woman with blocks of colour painted over it.

Rosh Mahtani

After picking up the Queen Elizabeth II Award for her sustainable Dante-inspired jewellery line, Alighieri, the London member used profits from e-commerce sales to support two charities, The Trussell Trust and Refuge

By Jess Kelham-Hohler    Portrait by Joe Cruz   Images courtesy of Rosh Mahtani and Alighieri

Since its inception six years ago, Alighieri has been all about love. The gold necklaces, earrings and rings that have earnt a cult following are all inspired by founder Rosh Mahtani’s fascination with Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy. They are also born from her love of the community of craftsman in London’s Hatton Garden, where all the pieces are sustainably made. 

So, it’s perhaps no surprise that when lockdown hit, Mahtani decided to respond with a series of love letters. Conscious that, like her, members of her Alighieri community may be feeling disconnected or in need of something special, she started a viral campaign, #AlighieriLoveLetters, calling on friends and fans to share a note, poem or lyrics in a letter to all. And that was just the start of her lockdown initiatives.

Mahtani’s 2020 had started off better than most. In February, she welcomed Princess Anne to St Etheldreda’s Crypt in Hatton Garden, the historic corner of London that had been home to jewellers since the 19th century, and to which Mahtani had brought her fresh perspective and investment in its manufacturing heritage. There, following a fashion show of her pieces set to the music of drone choir NYX, Princess Anne presented the self-taught designer with the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design – a recognition of exceptional talent, as well as a commitment to community values and sustainable practices.

Less than a month later, everything changed. With the ‘stay at home’ order in place, Mahtani and her team had to adapt to making and distributing the pieces from their various homes. But the designer quickly decided that while her business adapted to the new normal, it was also important to find a way to help. ‘During such a turbulent year, it just felt really wrong not to use the brand to give something back to society.’
A collage of a woman's portrait and models wearing bracelets and necklaces.

'During such a turbulent year, it just felt really wrong not to use the brand to give something back to society'

First, Alighieri partnered with The Trussell Trust, a UK-based charity and network of foodbanks that more and more people were coming to rely upon in order to feed their families. Mahtani committed a portion of e-commerce sales to the charity, ultimately raising more than £50,000. 

Looking for more ways to give back, she became aware of the prevalence of domestic abuse against women in the UK, which was seeing a sharp spike during the pandemic. So, she decided to connect with Refuge, a charity specialising in supporting victims of abuse. After sharing a video of a roundtable between Mahtani and Mari Edwards, head of operations at Refuge, to raise awareness of domestic abuse, Alighieri and Refuge have committed to an ongoing partnership. Starting next year, Alighieri will launch five pieces – representing each decade of Refuge’s work to mark its 50th anniversary – with 100% of the profits from each necklace donated back to Refuge.

‘It’s really exciting to know that we’ve embarked on this long-term relationship with Refuge, because our values really are aligned, and we’re both about celebrating and supporting women on their journeys.’ 

After packing so much in to 2020, Mahtani is optimistic about what 2021 has in store. ‘Being reunited with my team after lockdown brought me such joy, and I’m so lucky to work with an incredible group of inspiring women who are part of building this dream. There are lots of things next for us and we can’t wait to share them all.’

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