Allison Cimino of RockLove Jewelry didn’t intend to become a jewelry designer – let alone one who collaborates with some of the most popular franchises in entertainment and games like Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, and The Elder Scrolls. However, it became a natural fit after she studied abroad in an apprenticeship in Florence, Italy.
“Licensing was not even a glimmer of an idea,” Cimino said. “I thought that boutique jewelry was kind of the way to go and what everybody was doing.”
After working with artists and authors, it was a collaboration Cimino did with Clive Barker, the creator of Hellraiser, that gained the attention of Star Trek. CBS then inquired if RockLove wanted to make a Star Trek collection in 2014, which came with other properties that Cimino was able to create collections for as well.
“That was why I ended up in this niche of historical jewelry with things like Vikings on History channel, Penny Dreadful, and Twin Peaks. It was very much anything that was in history, fantasy, or sci-fi. Then also, the collaborations with the video games, which again was all these awesome relics that could be articulated,” Cimino said.
Cimino uses age-old techniques that involve a very labor-intensive, yet high-quality process for every RockLove Jewelry piece, and is known for the intricate, articulated details she includes on her designs.
Historical Jewelry Methods for Modern Times
“With old-world jewelry techniques, much of jewelry is handcrafted in the first place – I specifically employ the lost wax casting method, which means you perfect this original, and then you use a mold and casting process to make the multiples, and everything is done by hand from, injecting wax to pouring metal, to polish, and finishing it,” Cimino explained.
“And then the nerdy factor that I like to do that many people don't necessarily recognize, but it's just a personal jeweler calling card, is this level of articulation. In Edwardian and Victorian jewelry, there was a lot of what is known as mechanical jewelry. So there were lockets and things that would open or flip, and spin.”
Cimino explained this historical technique diminished once the world began to mass-produce jewelry, so she loves bringing it back in today’s world. “It's more like engineering rather than designing. In a fast-fashion demographic where you could just throw resin shellac paint on it and call it a day, I want premium hard enamel where you're seeing glossy transparency beneath, and it's part of the story."
From tiny, articulated legs that dangle on Star Wars droids, to Doctor Strange and Frozen rings that spin, to a Coco guitar locket where music notes pour out of the necklace for Mama Coco’s favorite song, Cimino finds ways to incorporate articulation whenever she can. “Those little touches tell the story, but are also a nod to hundreds of years of jewelry craftsmanship,” Cimino said.
Gotta Catch 'em All
To celebrate Pokémon’s 25th anniversary, RockLove has revealed their latest collection is a new Pokémon collaboration. RockLove’s current Pokémon collections are primarily made up of three-dimensional, fan-favorite characters, and the new line is meant to complement what fans might already have in their collection. The new pieces are focused less on characters and more on custom crystals, with the iconic Poké Ball as a minimalist focal point.
The new Pokémon collection includes: Crystal Poke Ball Dangle Earrings ($115 USD), Crystal Poke Ball Necklace ($99 USD), Crystal Poke Ball Ring ($99 USD), and Crystal Poke Ball Stud Earrings ($85 USD).
“It's even kind of telling a reinterpreted story,” Cimino said. “Maybe this is the poké ball catching that character. Maybe this is the poké ball the character normally lives in. It's open to interpretation, but it's not just the iconography – it's the way that the poké ball and the Pokemon interact and it gets clear in that storytelling.”
Working With Marvel and Disney
After years of showing the high-quality, authentic designs Cimino can create, RockLove is now able to work with basically any franchise they’re interested in – but it doesn’t happen overnight and generally takes at least a year from start to finish.
When working with studios, including Disney Animation, Pixar, or Marvel, Cimino is often the only person on the team who the studios will share access to props ahead of the release, and she then creates a piece out of a small glimpse into the show or movie – such as with WandaVision – which is why RockLove collections are expanded upon later as more episodes or films premiere.
“That's always very limited because they don't want to spoil the magic. And even the people that are working on the magic, only see a small section of the big picture,” Cimino said.
“Something awesome in a Loki episode will inspire me and I did not know about it before,” Cimino explained. “So now, I’m sketching my proposal and we’re starting the sculpting and the whole process. But, I'm inspired the same moment everybody else is inspired, watching the episode as it drops on Disney Plus. So in those instances, that's why there will be a release of something, maybe six months later, because I got really excited about something new.”
One of the continually expanded upon collections is RockLove’s Star Wars lines, which has a mix of favorite characters and props from the original trilogy, the sequel trilogy, a special Ahsoka Tano collection, a more recent Kyber Crystal collection featuring characters’ lightsabers (with more releasing in 2022), and The Mandalorian.
Cimino created The Meditating Child Necklace after watching The Mandalorian episode along with everyone else when it was released on Disney+. “That's exactly where I watched the episode where he's meditating on the rock and I was just, internally squee-ing that I needed to make it as a piece of jewelry or my life could not go on. And so, six months later, The Meditating Child comes out and it just completes my creative life cycle,” Cimino said.
RockLove on Inclusivity in the Industry
“The term 'RockLove' comes from the music and kind of the circus industry, in which two people, two artists that respect and are inspired by each other, create new art together,” Cimino explained. “So maybe you're a dancer and a musician or an artist that's painting and another kind of figural performer or storyteller. And you are, your Rock Loves, you unite and inspire to create something even better together, with your artistic prowess. So that was RockLove.”
RockLove’s outlook is that jewelry is for all different body types without constraints on specific bodies or genders. “It's just about what's your style,” Cimino said. It doesn't matter what your body size is or your, or your gender identity, because if you feel like you can rock it, we just wanna make sure that we're making sizes that can fit as many people as possible.”
In terms of working as a woman in the industry, Cimino said she’s proud of how involved women are in the licensing industry. “One of the things that I'm really excited and proud of is that the licensing industry is very female involved. Now that doesn't necessarily mean they are the CEOs, owners, and presidents, but the management right up to VP level people in the consumer products industry – the majority of them that I work with are women.”
“Even the video game consumer products side, which is a doubled-down male-dominated industry. There are some really creative, amazing, organized, capable women in this category of business. I definitely want to continue to be a part of that and mentor other women in this industry so that licensing can stand above as a safe space for creative capable women in business,” Cimino said.
RockLove has been collaborating with Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast for the Magic: The Gathering X RockLove line, which Cimino confirms will have new pieces added to the collection in the new year. Additionally, she revealed to IGN that the Dungeons & Dragons license has been added and the team has been creating a significant quantity of Dungeons & Dragons X RockLove designs that will debut in 2022.
Jessie Wade is Homepage Manager at IGN and adores Star Wars, Marvel, and Pokemon. You can chat with her on Twitter @jessieannwade.