Gabriela Berlingeri Is Focused on Self-Love — and Her Jewelry Line Celebrates That
Even for those who seek to be the center of attention, the spotlight often comes with a heavy price. In a world where gossip rules much of the mediasphere, even non-celebrities can end up caught up in the maelstrom of intense public attention. Especially if they're closely associated with someone famous and recognizable. Gabriela Berlingeri experienced that, and to a degree very few can relate to, during the time she dated one of the most famous people on the planet — Bad Bunny.
The story of how Berlingeri and the Latin trap artist had a chance meeting and started up a relationship back in 2017 has become part of his lore. The two were together for several years and even collaborated on a handful of songs. She was even shouted out in "Acho PR," a single off his latest album "Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana."
The details of when and how the relationship ended have been kept close to their chests, in tune with what was already a highly private romance. And while media outlets have covered every last one of Bad Bunny's moves in the last year, Berlingeri has immersed herself in her passion project — her jewelry line, DiciembreVeintinueve. Named after her birth date, the brand has also aided her in discovering new and healthy perspectives on self-love and life beyond a high-profile relationship.
Raised all her life in the beachy Isla Verde neighborhood of Carolina, Puerto Rico, Berlingeri has always counted herself as close to nature. She describes her family as one filled with "creators," a trait that she feels proud to follow.
"My grandmother makes stained glass, my dad designed all his tattoos, plus he loves painting. My aunt is an architect. My family has been quite creative," Berlingeri tells POPSUGAR. "The act of making something yourself, with your hands, is amazing."
In her case, Berlingeri gravitated toward jewelry. "Lots of people say they can't sleep with their jewelry on, but I always sleep with them," she says. "I wake up, and even if I'm not wearing anything else, I'll have my jewelry on me."
Her interest only increased after she worked alongside a local jewelry designer and learned how to craft pieces herself. In 2019, she began to plant the seeds for what would eventually become DiciembreVeintinueve (or D29, as it's also known). The brand launched in November 2020 following pandemic-related delays, and since then it's churned out beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and more, all made in-house by Berlingeri and her team using locally sourced materials.
Berlingeri says she has long-term ideas for collections but prefers to be inspired in the moment when it comes to individual designs. When asked how she comes up with them, she says: "It's very random. I'll sit down, go over what pieces I have at hand, put on my AirPods, and start linking them together. It's like building a puzzle."
This month D29 is releasing its Valentine's Day collection with pieces such as 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 bond between one's mind, body, and spirit when you begin to focus on you. Last July, they dropped the Rhea Collection, a line inspired by the colors of Puerto Rico's natural basins, rivers, forests, and beaches. It was an idea that suddenly sprang to Berlingeri only a few months ago. She decided to take a road trip around the island to look for further inspiration. It shows in a variety of the pieces — just look at the green tourmaline stones that make up the collar of the Medare Necklace, which she points out can represent not only the green of the flora but also how river and ocean water can sometimes take on a green hue.
"The stones we use in our collections are natural, semiprecious," she shares. "I've had lots of beach inspiration before, but this time I wanted to include more of the rivers and forests. Puerto Rico is known for its beaches, but we have many 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 many locals live with every day — the coast on one side and the central mountains on the other. As Berlingeri puts it, "Lots of people will relate because we're a small island. Getting to a beach is not that hard, although I know there are vicissitudes." She recalls a news report she saw once about communities in the highest points of Puerto Rico, where people had gone their entire lives without leaving their towns. "There's lots of poverty in Puerto Rico, up in the mountains, more than people realize," she adds. "There are families living there who have never seen the ocean, and they have no way [to visit the coast]."
As she speaks candidly and enthusiastically about this collection and future projects, including soon expanding D29 to sell bathing suits, her excitement is palpable. She's surrounded by a dedicated all-women team of people she considers close friends, including head designer Shelby Díaz Esquerdo, who spearheads the waste-conscious One of One initiative, which reuses discarded elements to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.
Berlingeri knows escaping attention for whom she was with in the past will take a while, but she's adjusted her life around what helps her ignore the noise and move forward with her goals.
"What's most important for me right now is maintaining myself happy and at peace," she says. "You have to push through a lot in order to feel well and stable. And I want to create things that fulfill me, and focus on my work."
Berlingeri is putting that into the theme of her new line, too, framing it around the idea of having her customers buy Valentine's Day gifts for themselves.
"I'm in an era of: love yourself! It's a great moment to say, 'I'm going to get this for myself,' during this season of consumerism, [which was] created to make you spend money."
"I'm in an era of: love yourself! It's a great moment to say, 'I'm going to get this for myself,' during 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 up D29 and making it successful was exactly the kind of healthy distraction Berlingeri needed the last year, adding that it was "100 percent" a form of therapy for herself.
"I get [to the office] and I'm happy. To me, getting here frees me from everything else; it keeps my feet on the ground — busy," she says. "Sometimes I have days off and think, 'What do I do?' I don't want to depend on anybody to make plans." Right now, she loves to go to the beach by herself; she knows special spots where she can have privacy, avoid overeager fans, and simply enjoy the surf.
That's what this whole era is about for Berlingeri: focusing on herself, what brings her joy, and what makes her excited about the future. And that's never too much.
Although one of designer Coco Chanel's famous quotes goes, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off," Berlingeri begs to differ. "I'm sorry to Coco Chanel, but more is more," she laughs. More work, more happiness, more time with friends, and all for the sake of no one but herself.