Black holes come in many sizes. Some are massive, like the one at the centre of the Milky Way. Others are smaller and closer to home. In a workshop in Rome, Fabio Salini is making dark pieces of jewellery that draw the eye with the force of a gravitational field. The material that exerts this pull is carbon fibre, which is beloved by high-tech manufacturers and jewellers alike because it is as strong as it is light. Salini has been working with the stuff for the last five years. Originally he used it sparingly, to accent his gemstone- and diamond-encrusted confections. But he found himself returning to it again and again.
Carbon fibre isn’t brilliant like an emerald or lustrous like gold; it’s matte black and inexpensive compared with the precious materials used by many designers of Salini’s calibre. It is everything that rare, valuable stones are not – jewellery’s antimatter. This delighted Salini, and he gradually began to give it a more prominent role; one of his buckle cuffs is composed entirely of carbon fibre, aside from a thin row of diamonds trimming the edges. Black holes are regions of space where gravity is so strong that it sucks all the light into its centre. Though the front of this necklace dazzles with its constellation of gemstones spanning the full spectrum of light, the eye is inescapably drawn to the back, where waves of light converge into a smooth, otherworldly black.