JCK Asks…Borgioni’s Rhonda Bartolacci



The Borgioni matriarch on her mother-daughter business

They say long-distance relationships never work, but mother-daughter duo Rhonda and Tiffany Bartolacci are disproving that old adage with their 7-year-old brand ­Borgioni. Despite a cross-country divide (Tiffany lives in L.A., Rhonda in Tampa, Fla.) and “way too many phone calls and emails” (Rhonda’s words), the pair have built a business selling rocker-chic jewels to edgy, diamond-­loving consumers. Need a handcuff-style bracelet? A shark-tooth ring? They’re your girls. “Tiffany has a fantastic mind and memory, so she handles inventory, distribution, and sales,” explains Rhonda. “I love numbers, so I handle the financial part.” They collaborate on their designs, which Rhonda says is the best part about working with her daughter: “We are best friends and have similar tastes. We are always laughing.”

Diamond, ruby, tsavorite rose, and leaf cuff with interchangeable scorpion (below)

Age: Do I really have to tell you?

Number of years in the biz: 7

Number of employees you oversee: 6

Family and pets: My daughter, Tiffany; her ­husband, Chris; precious granddaughter Harley Rose; ­grand-doggie Sheba; my eight cats; and my two horses. We are animal lovers.

Describe your personal style: I just love fashion. I’ll wear anything from Chanel to Ann Demeulemeester, or just jeans with a tee and boots. When we get a cold front, I can’t wait to pull out the jackets and boots.

First piece you ever designed: 18k white gold diamond heart pendant on a diamond bezel-set chain made from the diamonds my mother gave me

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: The large ruby rose and interchangeable black diamond scorpion cuff that I made for Tiffany’s wedding

Best piece of advice you ever received: “The customer is always right. Satisfy your customer.” Advice from my dad.

Worst piece of advice: “Be the bigger person.” From my dad again. This never seemed to work to my benefit!

Borgioni’s 18k yellow gold and diamond small Spike cuff

First job ever: Modeling for a trucking company called Mack Trucks out of Allentown, Pa. Mack was introducing their new semi and I had to be an ornament next to it.

How did you get started designing jewelry? Redesigning pieces of my mother’s jewelry that I inherited or that she had given to me into pieces that I could wear and enjoy every day

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I would be in commercial real estate with my younger brother. I’m sure he’s grateful that I’m not torturing him every day.

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Jewelry you’re wearing right now: I love bracelets. I’m always layering them. Right now I am wearing our pavé diamond handcuff, Pyramid handcuff, Spike cuff, diamond rose beaded bracelet, and a Cartier Love bracelet that was given to me by Tiffany and Harley for a special birthday.

Five items on your desk right now: My two ­Himalayan cats, Starbucks, calculator, Sharpies in five different colors, and papers galore

Five songs on your playlist: “Home,” Phillip Phillips; “Eden,” Sarah Brightman; “Angel,” Akon; “When I Was Your Man,” Bruno Mars; “Demons,” Imagine Dragons

Everett Collection
The Wizard of Oz

Exercise regimen: Yoga, horseback riding, Pure Barre

What did you have for breakfast? Oatmeal with blueberries

Guilty pleasure: Caramel apples

Drink (daytime/evening): Daytime: Starbucks soy cappuccino, green tea (hot or iced), Mamma Chia (very addicting); evening: water or tea on the weekdays, a glass of pinot noir on the weekends

First website you check every day (not your own!): InStyle.com

14k rose gold and brown diamond Pyramid handcuff

Scent: Gardenia Essential Oil

How do you unwind? That’s my problem. I can never unwind. I go, go, go until I drop into bed.

Superstitious? Never give a knife as a gift. It’s an old Italian superstition that stuck with me.

Favorite movie: The Wizard of Oz

Who would play you in your life story? Cher

Personal motto: “Never second-guess your instincts; always go with them.”

 
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