There’s no dearth of sister acts in the world of up-and-coming jewelry designers. We’ve seen the rise of the Dannijo girls, industry favorites, champions of chic rusticity; the Tuleste Market ladies, experts at torquing the staple girlish emblems—stars, hearts, teddy bears—into pieces of alloyed, accessible edge, and then there’s Kim and Nicole Carosella, the sisters behind the blossoming new line Sorellina. The Long Island natives established the brand back in 2011, building their first stock out of their mother’s molten 80s jewelry, and have since amassed a solid following among the A-listers: Demi Moore, Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch, to name a few. What the Sorellina sisters bring to the table—Sorellina is Italian for “little sister”—is an instant signature in the already packed house of “vintage.” And when they insist the brand’s backbone is vintage, they’re not reaching for an easy hook. It’s their bread and butter.
Before establishing their line, Kim was working as a pre-school teacher, while Nicole interned at Doyle & Doyle, the celebrated LES vintage haven, while studying jewelry design at FIT. Side by side, the two don’t seem all that alike. Nicole is boisterous—the artistic, kinetic spark, while Kim, though younger, takes more of the older-sister role—prim and business-minded. But their collections tell a different story. From the very beginning, their pieces have been marked by a distinguishable harmony, a stroke that is very much theirs. Kim’s engagement ring, which became the first official Sorellina design, proves a perfect example of that aesthetic complete with all the prime Sorellina components. “It’s a knife-edge,” says Kim. “Mixed metal, yellow gold with blackened gold, which is something that we use consistently throughout 90% of our pieces. It just makes it a little more special.”
Special is the through-line in their work—like how none of their stack rings are the same width, the way two gold snakes on the ends of a stunning chainmail bracelet serve as closures (they have to peck for you to close it), or how no two pieces in any given collection can ever be the same, as the sisters work with reclaimed stones only. The natural touch ensures you get something unique every time. And it’s nice to know they’re not walking into this endeavor complacently. “All of our stuff is manufactured in the US,” says Nicole. “About 95% is made in New York so I can keep my eye on it. It was very important for us when we started this to be as environmentally friendly as possible, which is why we use reclaimed stones. We don’t do any gold-plating either. It’s really bad for the environment.”
Their best pieces are the ones with the stories. Take their serpentine ‘Victoria’ collection, which is, as Nicole explains it, “based on Prince Albert and Queen Victoria’s wedding jewelry. As a love story it’s one of my favorites. Prince Albert proposed with a snake ring that symbolized ‘eternal love and wisdom’ and, after he passed away, Victoria would lay out his clothes every day for 40 years. She would wear rings on every finger and she would talk to the rings to keep his memory alive.” The ‘Otto’ offerings, which look like honeycombs or beehives, are another highlight in their catalog. “I love the number eight so I wanted something geometric with eight sides.” And then there’s the green ring. The “Serpente Cocktail Ring”, the pièce de résistance. In a table resplendent with gorgeous baubles, it’s the first thing you notice. It’s a breath-taker. “I designed this ring with Florence Welch in mind. She wore all of our jewelry to the 2013 Grammy Awards and it was awesome.” It was a fashion moment for the ages. Welch’s best moment perhaps, donning an emerald green Givenchy Fall 2009 Haute Couture gown. “She wore all three of our snake rings and wore a different ring on each finger. I designed this ring with her in mind and she came back, saw it and wore it to ‘The Great Gatsby’ premiere.”
Luckily, you don’t have to be Florence Welch to get that self-same intimate treatment from the Sorellina girls, especially those looking for a special engagement piece. In fact, it’s kind of their forte. “I’m such a romantic,” admits Nicole. “I love doing engagement rings the most. I do. I love getting to know a person, their personality, looking at their hand and hearing their love story.”
Jumping into this kind of enterprise, especially for a recent-grad and, at the time, a pre-School teacher – it couldn’t have been easy. But still, they don’t plan on becoming the next Van Cleef and Arpels, either. “We’re not looking to be in these gigantic stores and have every single person wear our stuff,” Kim offered. But who’s to know? With an A-list celeb clientele, usually the hordes follow soon enough. They may not have a choice in the matter.