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Sorellina means little sister in Italian, but there’s nothing minor about their distinctive jewelry. Inspired by the art deco mecca that is Manhattan, sisters, co-founders, and co-conspirators, Nicole and Kim Carosella, have created an earthy yet bold, grounded collection that leans into the celestial with a rock n’ roll thruline. The line offers colored stones with visible movement that the sisters often pair with gleaming diamonds for a unique juxtaposition—basically like downtown meets uptown but in the form of an earring. The result is sensational, sentimental, and stunning for everyday.
MELISSA: I feel that so much jewelry now is so dainty, delicate and very small, and that you can’t really see, touch or hold it. Whereas you both are doing something different – that’s a bit more bold or chunky and colorful. It has an art deco vibe to it. How did you decide to design that way and what was the reason behind it? How did you start the line?
KIM: That’s a lot of good questions. Nicole’s an artist in a million different mediums. When my daughter was born, she made her this terrarium, with a sculpture of an elephant with moss. When my son was born, she made a beautifully water-colored book, that’s telling a story of the adventure of our two dogs. She’s an incredibly artist, and always underplays it. She was always interested in going back to school for costume design. She went to FIT, and as she was starting the process she said “well, I’m just curious about, you know, jewelry fabrication.” She fell in love and changed her focus. Then she just started bringing home these pieces of jewelry and they were all, very different nothing that I was really seeing. They were all very sculptural, vintage, very Victorian art deco – infused and inspired.
KIM: From there I said, “Are we crazy?” “Should we start a jewelry line?”. I have always been an environmental person, so I think the idea of costume jewelry did not really make my heart sing, because I wanted something that could be passed down. Something that, if you did not like it anymore, you could always melt it down. From there we said, “Should we do fine jewelry?”. After that, we had internships and jobs and we eventually started swirling up.
MELISSA: How did you come up with the name? It obviously means little sister.
NICOLE: Some of our jewelers actually think it’s my first name. Besides meaning younger sister, it also means smaller sister. Kim is two years younger and I am two inches smaller. We wanted something that showed that this was a real team. It wasn’t just the designer’s vision and I can’t do what I do without her.
MELISSA: How did you come up with the Victorian, art deco, vintage inspired vibe? Was that intentional from the beginning?
NICOLE: Well, I think we were slightly brainwashed since we were children, without knowing it. We grew up between New York and Miami, so we were just constantly exposed to art deco architecture and always appreciated those lines. We always loved the furniture and buildings. Then, when I got really into jewelry, I started with collecting vintage jewelry and I was always drawn to art deco and Victorian pieces, which is why we do a lot of black and gold. I thought it gave such an edge to it. From there, we created our line while asking ourselves “How do we bring all the things we love in a more modern and slightly rock and roll way?”
MELISSA: How do you incorporate the celestial—the moons, the evil eyes, but also even the daintier pieces—the hearts, things like that that can read super feminine, but somehow you both make them completely different, than what’s in the marketplace already. It’s like you make them a little tougher than rock and roll. Was that something that you always wanted to do?
NICOLE: Well, I love symbols. I think there’s such power behind symbols and the jewelry itself, takes you back and has such meaning, that just makes sense to add more meaning to it. I think using the black and gold does give it that edge. Also, the lions and potions, take it from being dainty to something a little cooler. Even our flowers and butterflies are not ‘girly’.
KIM: Yeah, I have to say, I feel like the easy answer is that a lot of it is blackened, which gives a natural edge, but the truth is that it is her hand, it’s the style that she’s drawing and sketching it at, just has this innate rock and roll feel to it. Even our hearts are not basic hearts, they have an arrow through them, which gives them a cool edge to it, which, is just the style of her drawing.
Besides meaning younger sister, it also means smaller sister.
MELISSA: What was the first piece or pieces that launched the collection?
NICOLE: There are three pieces that we started with. We started with the line Otto, which means eight in Italian, which happens to be my favorite number. I wanted to start with something lucky again, back to symbols and meanings. So, we started with the octagons and we made this really cool reversible bracelet.
KIM: We went to Brimfield in Massachusetts (the antique market), and Nicole found a beautiful vintage chandelier, which was all made out of glass that’s cut were all octagons. So, it all kind of ties back to the vintage, and specific feel that was very inherent to Sorellina.
NICOLE: The next piece was the “Axl Marquise earrings” – we have a pair here too. Following that, we made a little Otto stud, which I wore on my wedding day.
MELISSA: So sweet. Is it hard to convince women to go out of their comfort zone? Maybe in jewelry, in terms of color or style or chunkiness? Do you think that you have to talk them into it? Do you think there is a learning curve that goes with it?
KIM: I think there is, but they want customized stuff. That’s why our Signet rings are so popular, because people just want it to reflect all these things. Our Tablet necklaces are also really popular. But there has been a trend that people want, if they buy jewelry, they want to wear it. They don’t want it to sit in a safe. The layering necklace trend has really worked well in our favor, because you see it everywhere. Five or ten years ago, it would be really hard to sell huge pieces, in colours that we now sell out of.
NICOLE: I also think we taught our clients a lot about, colors that can be neutrals. You know, that an emerald goes well with everything. It doesn’t just need to be diamonds to wear every day.
MELISSA: I love your version of the classic name plate necklace, the Tablet. Do you guys both wear them?
NICOLE: Well, I am actually making a new one, because my son who is three, is really into space. In fact, his whole room is space. I said to myself “I want to remember this age.” So, I designed a Tablet that has Saturn, and our stars, with special engraving on the back.
KIM: Nicole designed this celestial tablet for me. My dog will be 15 in two weeks, she is a very old lady, named Blue. So, she designed this special lapis tablet with three moons, one for my dog, and my two kids. There were three stars on it originally, but when we put it out, we sold it right away. That’s the way it works. Sales come first.
MELISSA: What are each one of your daily particulars that you put on? Whether it’s your skin care routine or your jewelry routine?
KIM: She’s very particular!
NICOLE: I am an extremely particular person. I need to make my own tea because it has to have the right ratio. I am just incredibly particular about what I like. I also pretty particular about my skin, because 40 is approaching.
KIM: We’re both very ‘less is more’ people and also very into all organic, natural things as much possible. My skincare is always Vintner’s Daughter. I love it. That’s just my favorite that I have been using for years. We typically buy everything based on packaging, and we are also very particular about our coffee cups.
NICOLE: We have matching cups. I am very particular again about the tops of coffee cups. I make my stick turmeric chai oat milk lattes in them. It’s my favourite, I sometimes add coffee or espresso to wake me up a little bit more.
NICOLE: I always live in my ear cuff. I have made jewelry that if I do not wear, my son gets upset. He will say “Mama, where’s your earrings?”. So, I have my ear cuff, my ring and my wedding necklace that I wear.
MELISSA: It is gorgeous.
KIM: Show Melissa what you added!
NICOLE: This is actually my favorite piece of jewelry, because when I was in jewelry school, and did not know much about anything. I knew I loved old diamonds. I slowly started collecting diamonds. I would buy one here, one there, and I would match them in pairs, and I kind of had this idea that someday, I would make myself a diamond necklace. Both Kim and our production manager knew this. When I got married, they all worked with my husband behind my back, in the best way, and he presented it to me on my wedding day, with the setting I designed and everything. I bawled like a baby. They had to redo my eye makeup.
NICOLE: When I first had my son, I ended up getting very sick and went overseas to look at some lab areas. My husband had taken my son to my brother’s house and he found this little red heart bead. My son said, “I am going to bring this for my mama.” He took it everywhere with him, and said to me “Mama, I got this for you cause you’re my heart. Will you wear it?” I looked at him and said “I will. This is a hideous bead.” He said to me “Mama is an alchemist and she can turn things into gold.” In three days, I held it with all my love, and said that “I was going to make this bead into gold.”
KIM: This actually could be a children’s book.
MELISSA: You should think about this!
KIM: So, she cast the bead in gold.
NICOLE: I am good with children’s books. My son said to me “you did it Mama.” I told him “there’s nothing your Mama can’t do if we don’t really try hard and think about it.” So, these are my boys on my neck every day.
KIM: So cute. That’s what jewelry should be for us. It should be something that it just makes you feel that way. It makes you feel really, loved and wonderful.
KIM: That’s kind of why we love doing engagement rings too, it is for the same thing, because it’s so much for the client we’re designing for, and not just for who they’re giving it to. It brings them so much joy and we try to make it a really intimate process. They feel like they have made it themselves.
NICOLE: it is a very clear path. They make the choices.
MELISSA: Where do you draw your inspiration from for your collection?
NICOLE: It’s everywhere. My brain is always thinking, processing, looking at things. The only way I can go to bed at night is if I lay in bed and just draw for hours. Some pieces are for Sorellina, and the future collection. We do have a collection coming out, we can give you a sneak preview.
MELISSA: That was my next question. What’s up next?
NICOLE: This is one of the few collections that is truly from an experience and designed for a purpose. I was at a health spa, and this woman came up to me and asked if “I read tarot cards” and if “I wanted a reading done?”. I said, “I was going to do it.” So, she drew the strength card. What I took from that as that I loved the idea that I can choose to believe in something good and then I can make my own fate. I called Kim and said, “I want to do this tarot collection.”
KIM: The first thing I remember saying was “It sounds very expensive.”
NICOLE: We both decided to think about it. After that, all these interesting things, like symbols kept popping up.
NICOLE: I was in front of a church, where I happened to run into a friend of mine that’s an astrologer and thought that I had not seen him in six years. He looks at me and he said “you seem really different. There is something about you. You seem really calm and strong.” All of a sudden, the church bells rang. I called Kim and said “This is a sign. We are making this collection.”
KIM: Nicole then sent me these really pretty sketches. I told her “we have to make them right if we do it.” There are so many iterations, and all these little things, that we have to make sure are correct.
NICOLE: There are certain symbols that have to be there, so we decided to work with a tarologist, to make sure that everything was right.
MELISSA: When is it coming out?
KIM: Definitely by Couture, which is June 1st. We have them all drawn.
NICOLE: It has been a long process, probably our longest collection to develop. We have to refine stuff as this collection is the most thought out, in depth and personal.
KIM: A lot of our work takes several rounds, that is why the inspiration question is always kind of hard. It can be anything and we’re coming off of the Tucson Gem show which moves every year.
MELISSA: It looked amazing.
KIM: You go and see all these stones, that are so beautiful, and you just want to see them in specific. You want to do service to the stone. It is fun to bring them back and mix them with other things that we do.
NICOLE: I am the crazy, hopeless romantic. Again, why we love engagement rings, wedding bands, things with children. I love stones and I think that is such proof of, why I believe in the magic that the earth makes these things. Whenever you are having a bad day, you should look at these beautiful stones. It is very humbling and also very inspiring at the same time.
KIM: Going to the gem show is nice because we have relationships with so many of our vendors, and we meet new ones every year. They are so great, so passionate and they love what they do, which is really nice to see. We want to be going to resources, and we want to make these relationships.
NICOLE: We love going back and showing what we made with their stones. This year, I showed them this piece, and it did not even last five minutes. We put it on Instagram and it sold immediately.
NICOLE: We’re so proud. It’s just nice, to work with people who love what they do. You need to find good people and assemble a good team.
MELISSA: I agree. It’s amazing. Should we go out and look at some pieces?