La bella figura is an Italian expression that has no English counterpart. While the exact translation is “beautiful figure,” it more accurately sums up an Italian cultural imperative: paying meticulous attention to the details of one’s appearance. To be well dressed and well groomed—even for a quick run to the corner grocer—is to show respect for others with whom you interact or do business.

It is this heritage of fashion and elegance that inspired designer Alessandro Testi to create Rebecca, the fashion jewelry line he founded in 1998. Unlike many peers in the Italian jewelry industry, Testi was not born into a family business; in fact, his professional career began with the Johnson Wax Co. in Italy. But with a degree in art, and an entrepreneurial vision to make a high-quality Italian jewelry product that would be fashionable and glamorous yet affordable, he launched a collection spontaneously named for a character in an Italian film noir. Laughing, he admits he saw the film only in passing and can’t remember its title, but he was inspired by the character’s strong self-confidence.

The resulting Rebecca collection sports equally bold design. It’s composed of sterling silver, stainless steel, and 18k gold-plated bronze jewelry, much of which features bright colors of hydrothermally grown quartzes or other semiprecious gemstones. Some pieces are enameled; others have diamond accents. Pieces are designed via a CAD/CAM technology Testi first observed in use in the leather industry. Metal for the gold and bronze collection uses a proprietary 18k gold plating process that Testi says is cost effective yet produces a high-quality finish with six layers of gold. All pieces come with a two-year international warranty. The firm also recently introduced a new men’s collection.

Retail price points for the collection range from about $100 to $1,600, with the typical sale about $450, says a company spokesperson.

In 2007 Testi S.p.a, the parent company of Rebecca, received an award for excellence in the category of innovation, presented by Confindustria, the Italian employers’ federation.

Headquartered in a 14,500-square-foot facility near Florence, Testi employs more than 500 worldwide. The Rebecca line is distributed in more than 1,000 independent retail stores in Italy as well as freestanding boutiques and shops-within-shops in 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Last year, the first Rebecca boutique opened in the United States, in Beverly Hills, Calif. It’s also sold at specialty stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s and through independent retail jewelers.