Anyone who has ogled ancient Greek jewellery while melting desirously onto a glass museum window knows that even as far back as two and three thousand years ago, Hellenic aesthetics in bijoux design has always been exquisite.
In Makryianni you’ll find the Lalaounis Jewellery Museum, showcasing stunning designs by the family of jewellers, a lot of them inspired by ancient culture and philosophy; also in Makryianni is the Eleni Marneri Gallerie, presenting a plethora of modern jewellery designs by Greek artists in an ever-changing and delightful environment.
Many museum shops like the Cycladic Art Museum and the Benaki and several high-end tourist shops in Plaka also feature stylish, unique and covetable designs, as do the bank-breaking ones such as Zolotas and Kessarison Kolonaki’s chi-chi Voukourestiou st. As with fashion itself, jewellery design in Greece has seen a boom, and there are numerous dynamic women Greek designers - both established and rising stars - we would like to celebrate through this article whose impeccable and singular artistry should not be missed. Certainly they are not the only ones worth mentioning, but they have caught our eye most with their originality and range. Seek them out when you are in Greece or online.
With a family and academic background in archaeology and art, Polina Ellis designs sculptural pieces inspired by the austerity of the Doric style, the Byzantium, Greek mythology and minimalist, edgy modernity. Her designs create fine metallic and sometimes precious stone-embellished lines on a woman’s fingers, wrist, neck, and arms that have the instantly recognisable Polina Ellis signature style.
Among her various collections, with inspiration as varied as from nature, romanticism, Boheme bourgeoise style, and ethnic design, the designer’s somewhat surreal, Avant-grade enamel eyes collection of earrings, pendants and rings titled Tu Est Partout (You Are everywhere) has stood out the most, and her creations have been featured in global fashion pages and fashion shows by leading designers like Kenzo and Jean Paul Gaultier.
One of today’s star designers, this lawyer-turned-jeweller dreams up designs that could almost be from the Art Deco period, but mostly look like something so futuristic that it could be discovered in a palace boudoir on an alien planet. Her key influences include sculpture and architecture, as seen in her Blueprints ring, and she also uses materials like marble.
Delicate, refined and classical with a modern edge is a way to describe the style of Christina Soubli’s latest, graceful designs that combine minimalist gold with pearls. Known especially for her filigree work (a technique that dates back to 1000 BC), the jeweller has playful and modern collections featuring themes such as love, candy, lace, nature and colourful stones. All her earrings, rings and pendants have the same delicate style and are for the woman who likes to make a statement with one very subtle but beautiful piece of jewellery.
Geometrical shapes (sometimes inspired from ancient geometry such as her Amphitheatre collection) combined with modern minimalist lines define the modest yet bold, architectural designs of Fey Papanikou. “I do not see jewellery as a decorative object but as interaction with the character and personality of the individual,” the designer says of her modest but original sand definitely noteworthy creations.
Beloved around the world, Ileana Makri’s designs are made for the powerful, confident and stylish woman. From minimal to chunky, embellished with diamonds or other precious stones or not, her jewellery is eye-catching and makes a bold statement. Her collections differ dramatically - Tropical Paradise for example which features colourful bejewelled parrots and flamingos is completely different to Evil Eye - honouring her Greek roots and the symbol of the mati - or minimalist and futuristic Orbit, all of which just shows how multifaceted the designer’s talents are.
“When I work on my jewellery I find myself into a different state of consciousness... I experience the etheric, material-less substance, the everlasting entity that travels through space and time” writes Voula Karabatzaki on her website. And it’s an apt description of her other-worldly and jaw-dropping creations. Loaded with tiny and large stones, precious and semi-precious metals and other materials, her jewels are dramatic (which is why they have also been used for costumes) and unique, with an elegant ethnic twist that conjures royal beauties in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, Athens, Rome or New York 2019.