Miami inspires Italian designer

Prepare for people to grab your hand in checkout lines and restaurants when you wear one of Franco Pianegonda’s gemstone rings. The unorthodox shapes, bold colors and innovative materials create a ring that is anything but conventional. And here’s your chance to meet the designer, in South Florida preview his fall 2011 Collection. We chatted up the Vicenza, Italy-based jeweler who will be making an appearance at the franco PIANEGONDA Boutique in Aventura Mall from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The 38-year-old designer dished on Miami’s best-kept secret, muses and more:Q. What do you love most about Miami?

The good energy and lush scenery are a source of constant inspiration. I love that Miami is such a thriving representation of the Latin culture. My mother is from Spain and I was raised speaking Spanish as well as Italian.Q. Describe your design aesthetic for those not-in-the-know.

La Maison franco PIANEGONDA is a luxury Italian jewelry brand renowned for innovative designs. It features rodiated .925 sterling silver combined with natural elements, including 18-karat gold, buffalo tusk, diamonds, gemstones and natural river pearls.Q. Which celebs covet your creations?

The brand is a favorite of Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Sienna Miller, Alicia Keys, Usher, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony and Sharon Stone.Q. What is the inspiration behind the fall 2011 collection?

My muse is a powerful woman who uses her strong personality to express her elegance and sensuality in all situations, regardless of how turbulent the modern world may be. In my Pearl of Water Collection ring, there is a large pearl in the center, which symbolizes life — very solid yet elegant and sensual. At the same time, it’s the center of life’s turbulences, emphasized by the circles of silver surrounding it. I use a lot of symbolism in my designs.Q. If you weren’t a jewelry designer, what would you be?

An architect.Q. What is your guilty pleasure?

French fries — the thinner and crispier, the better.Q. What is Miami’s best-kept secret?

Panizza Bistro — a tiny Argentine breakfast spot in South Beach where I have a freshly baked croissant and cappuccino whenever I’m in town.Q. Tell us a tidbit about you that most people don’t know.

I love my clothing worn in. In fact, my wife is always trying to throw out my favorite T-shirts because they aren’t new and perfect. There’s something very comforting about wearing something I’ve owned for a long time.

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