The connoisseur: Daniela Mascetti
After 40 years of travelling the world with renowned auction house Sotheby’s, jewellery expert Daniela Mascetti knows a thing or two about the world’s most precious pieces. She chats with High Life ahead of the launch of her new venture, Understanding Jewellery - a website for gem aficionados, about cherished family trips, where she finds inspiration and why New Zealand is her go-to holiday destination
I can’t wait to go back to Milford Sound in New Zealand. Located on the South Island, it took my husband and I two days to get there on a 28-hour flight! As soon as we arrived, I fell in love with the greenery and lush vegetation of the rainforest, combined with the mist and the snow on the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay in a lodge right at the bottom of the fjord, where you could walk along the beach and hop on a boat to see the dolphins and fish in the water. Going back to that special place is something I would really like to do before it’s too late.
The best hotel I have ever stayed in is the Sossusvlei Lodge in Namibia. It’s set right in the middle of the Namibian desert and, from a distance, you wouldn’t know it was there as it’s the same colour as the rocks and blends into the landscape. We took a family trip there once with our two children and we loved it. We enjoyed walks in the desert, drives to see the animals, and strolls along the dunes – it was a magical place. I also remember there was this wonderful retractable glass roof in our bedroom, and every night we opened it and looked up at the stars. There’s an amazing night sky in Namibia!
If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be Rome. For me, it’s a city that gives you an idea of the culture and history of our past. The climate is great, too! There are moments in Rome when buildings start to glow with this wonderful warmth, which is so embracing. And, of course, the food is simply delicious. I had the most amazing artichoke in Rome and every time I go back I visit the same restaurant, Ristorante Nino in Borgognona. I love to scoop them out and eat the whole thing!
I had my most memorable meal on a beach in the Maldives. On our way back from South Asia, my husband and I stopped off in the Maldives for five days to relax. Little did we know it was Valentine’s Day on the day we arrived, so we tried to book a table at a restaurant. When we got there, we were told there were no tables, but instead (to our surprise) they had set up a private spot on the beach for us. Surrounded by candles, we were served our meal right on the beach at sunset. It was very romantic.
To destress on holiday, I like to sip a glass of wine and read a book. I always pack a couple of novels and biographies that are relevant to my job so I can keep up to date. I miss my teenage years when I could spend my summers in the garden, sitting under a tree, devouring piles of books. I don’t have that time anymore so, when I do go away, it’s a real treat to have those quiet moments to read.
The best souvenir I’ve ever brought home is a jade sculpture I collected during my honeymoon in New Zealand. Jewellery has been my profession for the past 40 years, so when I heard about this artist who specialises in carving jade sculptures inspired by Maori art I had to see his work. From Christchurch, we drove up towards Mount Cook and arrived at Greymouth, where we found his studio. The amazing green stone piece I purchased there is perhaps the only true souvenir that keeps moving with me. It’s never been left behind or forgotten because it’s such a beautiful object and made out of a material that I love. It’s also special as it’s connected to my honeymoon, so it’s something I will never regret buying.
One of my favourite places to visit for inspiration is the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Luckily, it’s just a short stroll away from where I currently live in South Kensington. I believe it has one of the best jewellery collections in the world. My job involves writing and hosting lectures about jewellery, so I like to visit the V&A regularly and spend time going to see the amazing sculptures, beautiful Islamic tiles and fashion collections as part of my research and to get inspiration.
Understanding Jewellery (Understanding-Jewellery.com) launches on July 15th and aims to be the definitive digital companion to jewellery fans from around the world.
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