Even for those who seek to be the center of attention, the price to pay is often high. In a world where gossip dominates much of the media sphere, even non-celebrities can find themselves caught in the whirlwind of intense public attention. Especially if they are closely associated with someone famous and recognizable. Gabriela Berlingeri experienced it, and to some extent very few people can relate to it, when she was dating one of the most famous people on the planet – Bad Bunny.
The story of how Berlingeri and the Latin trap artist met by chance and began a relationship in 2017 has become part of its lore. The two were together for several years and even collaborated on a few songs. She was even shouted out in “Acho PR,” a single from her latest album “Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana.”
Details of when and how the relationship ended were kept close to the chest, in keeping with what was already a very private love story. And while the media has covered Bad Bunny’s every move over the past year, Berlingeri has immersed herself in her passion project: her jewelry line, DiciembreVeintinueve. Named after her birth date, the brand also helped her discover new, healthy perspectives on self-love and life beyond a high-profile relationship.
Raised her entire life in the seaside neighborhood of Isla Verde in Carolina, Puerto Rico, Berlingeri always considered herself close to nature. She describes her family as one full of “makers,” a trait she is proud to follow.
“My grandmother makes stained glass windows, my dad designed all of her tattoos, and he loves to paint. My aunt is an architect. My family has been pretty creative,” Berlingeri told POPSUGAR. “The fact of making something yourself, with your hands, is incredible.”
In her case, Berlingeri turned to jewelry. “A lot of people say they can’t sleep with their jewelry on, but I always sleep with it on,” she says. “I wake up, and even if I’m not wearing anything else, I’ll have my jewelry on.”
Her interest only grew after working alongside a local jewelry designer and learning how to make pieces herself. In 2019, she began planting the seeds of what would become DiciembreVeintinueve (or D29, as it is also known). The brand launched in November 2020 following pandemic-related delays, and since then has been producing beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings and more, all made in-house by Berlingeri and her team from locally sourced materials.
Berlingeri says she has long-term ideas for collections, but prefers to take inspiration from the present moment when it comes to individual designs. When asked how she came up with them, she says: “It’s very random. I’ll sit down, look at the pieces I have on hand, put in my AirPods and start connecting them together. C It’s like building a puzzle.”
This month, D29 is releasing its Valentine’s Day collection with pieces like the Nabelle “Unicorn” necklace, and a two-piece “Thelma and Louise” necklace to share between best friends. This year’s theme is dedicated to self-love, healthy friendships, and the important connection between mind, body, and spirit when you begin to focus on yourself. Last July, they launched the Rhea collection, a line inspired by the colors of Puerto Rico’s natural pools, rivers, forests and beaches. It was an idea that suddenly came to Berlingeri only a few months ago. She decided to take a road trip around the island to seek more inspiration. This is seen in a variety of pieces – just look at the green tourmaline stones that make up the Medare necklace’s necklace, which, she points out, can represent not only the green of flora, but also the way l The water in rivers and oceans can sometimes take on colors. a green tint.
“The stones we use in our collections are natural, semi-precious,” she shares. “I’ve had a lot of inspiration for beaches before, but this time I wanted to include more rivers and forests. Puerto Rico is known for its beaches, but we have a lot of beautiful rivers and I wanted to capture their colors. “
Another piece, the Casa necklace, shows a palm tree in the foreground and a mountain range in the background, which reflects a view that many locals live with every day: the coast on one side and the central mountains of the other. As Berlingeri says, “A lot of people will relate because we are a small island. Getting to the beach is not that difficult, although I know there are vicissitudes.” She remembers a news report she once saw about communities in the highest points of Puerto Rico, where people had spent their entire lives without leaving their towns. “There is a lot of poverty in Puerto Rico, in the mountains, more than people think,” she adds. “There are families who live there who have never seen the ocean and who have no means [to visit the coast]”.
As she speaks candidly and enthusiastically about this collection and her future plans, including the upcoming expansion of D29 to sell swimwear, her enthusiasm is palpable. She’s surrounded by an all-female team of people she considers close friends, including head designer Shelby Díaz Esquerdo, who spearheads the waste-conscious One of One initiative, which repurposes discarded items to create one-of-a-kind jewelry.
Berlingeri knows it will take her some time to escape the attention of people she was with in the past, but she has adjusted her life based on what helps her ignore the noise and move toward her goals .
“What’s most important to me right now is staying happy and at peace,” she says. “It takes a lot of effort to feel good and stable. And I want to create things that satisfy me and focus on my work.”
Berlingeri also puts this into the theme of her new line, framing it around the idea of allowing her customers to buy Valentine’s Day gifts themselves.
“I’m in a time of: love yourself! It’s a great time to say, ‘I’m going to get this,’ in this season of consumerism, [which was] created to make you spend money.
“I’m in a time of: love yourself! It’s a great time to say, ‘I’m going to get this,’ in this season of consumerism, [which was] created to make you spend money,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for someone to think about themselves for the first time and not think about other people.”
Building D29 and succeeding was exactly the kind of healthy distraction Berlingeri needed last year, adding that it was “100 percent” a form of therapy for herself.
“I receive [to the office] and I am happy. For me, arriving here frees me from everything else; it keeps me grounded and busy,” she says. “Sometimes I have days off and I’m like, ‘What should I do?’ make plans.” Right now, she loves going to the beach alone; she knows special places where she can have privacy, avoid busy fans and just enjoy surfing.
That’s the meaning of this whole era for Berlingeri: focusing on herself, on what brings her joy and what makes her excited about the future. And it’s never too much.
Even though one of designer Coco Chanel’s famous quotes says, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off,” Berlingeri disagrees. “I’m sorry to Coco Chanel, but more is more,” she says, laughing. More work, more happiness, more time with friends, and all for the good of no one but herself.
Image Source: Shelby Diaz/Design by Aly Lim