Behind the majestic Millennium Sapphire is a humble and talented artist that played a central role in making the masterpiece what it is today. We scheduled an interview with multi-award winner Alessio Boschi to bring you the never-heard-before perspective of the Millennium Sapphire. Also, you will get to know this gifted artist, who exudes just as much positive energy as his unparalleled creations.
Who is Alessio Boschi? Background Story
Gifted with an eye for beautiful things and a descendant of 17th-century artists, Boschi was destined for greatness. It is, therefore, not surprising that he is outstanding and successful in his chosen occupation. His first encounter with gemstones began at 7 years old during a holiday trip to Greece with his mother.
“We visited the ruins there and the Archaeological Museum of Athens. When I saw the gold of the Greeks, the Mycenaean and Minoan gold, and the gold that had just been discovered from the treasure of Alexander the Great’s father, I could not leave the glass display. There was no way my mother could pull me away from it. I was just fascinated!” he narrated.
Boschi started his career in Rome where he was born. At the age of 19, he joined the Academy of Fashion and Costume of Rome, and one year later, he received a scholarship. This was the first time in 30 years that a student majoring in jewelry design had received this scholarship. He also participated in several competitions and won awards in Japan and France.
At 21, he moved to Athens to work with a reputable design company, where he stayed for 3 years. He then moved back to Italy, where he worked as a freelancer for a company in Milan. It was here that he was contacted by Daniel Mckinney with a commission to design and carve the Millennium Sapphire. The job required him to travel and relocate to Hong Kong for several years.
After designing the Sapphire, Boschi’s talents took him to Thailand, Taiwan, and Australia, where he continued to develop his design repertoire. Moreover, his accomplishment with the Millennium Sapphire project irradiated his career and was a common conversation topic during project interviews. “The Sapphire accompanied me as a big step…as a big father behind me. The design was an incredible achievement,” he explained.
Next, Boschi established his own brand in 2010 by leveraging the great reputation and success he had built over the years. The company, Alessio Boschi Jewels, designs colorful and environmentally sustainable creations that draw inspiration from nature as well as the art of past civilizations.
First Impressions of the Millennium Sapphire
“I was speechless,” he recalled. “When I arrived in Hong Kong, and they opened the box, I could feel an incredible energy coming from the stone.”
Boschi reckons that this energy came from all the people that had come into contact with the Sapphire. Additionally, he said the Sapphire’s size was extraordinary, especially for a stone of the corundum family.
“It was heavier than I had imagined,” Boschi remembered.
The most beautiful thing about the Millennium Sapphire is that “it celebrates humankind’s success and progress.” It’s also unique because it is rare, natural, and the energy it holds from the earth has been controlled for the great purpose of celebrating the human genius.
Boschi also explained that the Millennium Sapphire is unique because of the teamwork that made it what it is today and what it will be in the future.
Carving the Millennium Sapphire
We wanted the Millennium Sapphire to tell a story, Boschi revealed. The story that the Millennium Sapphire team chose was the history of humanity’s progress. For instance, the bottom of the carving begins with the Orion constellation. The Egyptians used the position of this constellation to build the pyramids.
Boschi selected the subjects that he would carve on the Sapphire in a painstaking process comprising long days spent at libraries in Hong Kong. He wanted the elements to be appropriate to all audiences. Also, some of the individuals he picked lived their lives based on admirable ideals. For example, he decided to represent Mahatma Gandhi on the Sapphire for his non-violent principles and Mother Teresa for her caring heart.
After researching and sketching the designs that would go on the stone, Boschi now had to direct and supervise a team of Chinese carvers. Since this team had never worked with a foreign designer, he decided to make them feel at ease by renting the famous movie: 1492: Conquest of Paradise. The purpose of watching this movie with them was to illustrate that they were all part of one amazing project where they had the single goal of making a masterpiece.
“There was no such thing as I was their boss, and they were my subordinates,” he stated. “I hated those terms because we were all the same and part of this incredible human achievement.” After getting their hearts on board with the project, language and artistic barriers became slight challenges that could be easily overcome.
Boschi started the carving with human figurines at the bottom and positioned them in the four elements: water, earth, fire, and air. The figurines stand at four corresponding doors opening to the story of humanity. Moreover, these figurines move in a certain direction to show the fourth door, and they hold what is the beginning of the history of humanity.
The Millennium Sapphire is positioned on a square-shaped pedestal made of white calcite. The pedestal has an imprint inspired by classical architecture “like the pedestal of a temple, now the temple of humanity.” On each side of the pedestal is an engraving of an animal that represents the four elements. The eagle depicts the air, Neptune horses the water, the lion the fire and the elephant denotes the earth.
Boschi carved the 134 selected elements in a helix DNA spiral on the Millennium Sapphire. Ancient artists used spirals to represent a long sequence of events. Trajan’s Column of Rome, which commemorates Trajan’s victory in the Dacian wars, is an example of a monument designed in a spiral. Trajan was a Roman emperor from 98 to 117 AD.
Thoughts on the MS Token Project
Although the Millennium Sapphire was carved over 20 years ago, Boschi believes that it is still on a journey. “Gemstones travel from one era to another, and the Sapphire’s story continues,” said Boschi.
This is true because the Millennium Sapphire is now undertaking a new journey thanks to blockchain technology. According to Boschi, this new project could make the Sapphire one of the most talked-about gemstones in the world. Like the Mona Lisa, the Millennium Sapphire is an extraordinary masterpiece that could attract many accredited investors. This project also gives people the opportunity to own something remarkable and rare, he observed.
“Never had we imagined that one day there would be the technology to make the Sapphire accessible to everybody,” he added.
Furthermore, Boschi believes that digital art is the future and NFTs are the future of art investment.
Boschi’s work on the Millennium Sapphire earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003. Below is a list of the other awards he has won:
1. CHARLES PERROUD, S.A., International Competition — Lyon, France (1992)
2. JAPAN INTERNATIONAL PEARL CONTEST — Kobe, Japan (1993/1994). Best Designer for the Earrings Category
3. CHOPARD, International competition — Milan, Italy (1995)
4. UTOPIA PEARLS, International competition for South Sea pearls — Milan, Italy (1998). Two Designs taken by CHIMENTO and exhibited in Vicenza, Italy (January 1999)
5. UK’s Italian Designer of the Year (2009)
6. Best Pearl Design at the Couture Awards in Las Vegas, USA (2008 & 2010)
7. Veranda Art of Design Award Jewellery Category, in New York, USA (2010)
8. Centurion Designer Award in Arizona, USA (2013)
9. Jewelry Bazaar Awards in Beijing, China (2012–2014 & 2015)
10. The Jewelry Design Excellence Award in Hong Kong (2015 & 2017)
11. Winner of the Jewelry New Asia Design Competition 2019 for the Tahitian Pearls Category, in Hong Kong
Alessio Boschi will take part in our NFT series with a design created around the Millennium Sapphire. We intend to release about 10 NFTs and sell them through an auction through a reputable NFT marketplace.
Read the previous interview piece “The prelude to the Millennium Sapphire.”
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Interview by Angeline Mbogo.