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Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry

Ilias Lalaounis (Greece, 1920–2013)

It’s fitting that Ilias Lalaounis (1920–2013) is the only jeweler ever inducted into the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts — the Greek jeweler’s creations, such as his decorative gold necklaces and rings, are less fashion adornment and more works of art.

Lalaounis was born in Athens in 1920 to a family of goldsmiths and watchmakers with origins in Delphi. Before turning to the family business, Lalaounis studied law, economics, business and music and trained with the painter Alexandros Alexandrakis. Such a well-rounded education laid the foundation for his unique approach to jewelry.

Lalaounis took the helm of his uncle’s jewelry company in 1940. The impact of the Second World War on Greece inspired the jeweler to celebrate his country’s history by reinterpreting its artifacts into new works of art. In 1957, Lalaounis founded the Greek Jewelers’ Association and exhibited at the Thessaloniki International Fair, showcasing the first of his “collections,” as he would come to define his phases of work. This, the Archaeological Collection, was informed by classical and Hellenistic history.

Lalaounis would go on to find new ways to render historic motifs in gold and gemstones after founding his namesake house in 1969. For his 1970s-era collection, Blow Up, he displayed gold pieces inspired by Minoan art on his models’ entire bodies; after opening a store in Tokyo, he presented a collection informed by Japanese art. Later, Lalaounis introduced a collection inspired by Native Americans at his Madison Avenue store in Manhattan. One of the jeweler’s most important commissions came in 1976, when he designed a collection that drew on Persian art for Empress Farah of Iran.

In 1984, Lalaounis explored his unique creative vision with a book, Metamorphoses. By the 1990s, he had stores across Europe as well as in Tokyo, Hong Kong and New York City, and his work had been exhibited at the National Museum of American History and the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, to name a few. In 1994, he founded his own eponymous museum in Athens, with a permanent collection of pieces from 45 of his collections. Lalaounis died in 2013.

Lalaounis’s research-driven approach to jewelry design gives his pieces a depth on par with any art form.

Find an ornate assortment of Ilias Lalaounis’s yellow-gold necklaces, rings and more at 1stDibs.

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Vintage Gold and Lapis Lalaounis Bracelet
By Ilias Lalaounis
Located in Stamford, CT
Ridges, like streams of 18Kt gold wrap this wrist of this Lalaounis lapis orb bracelet. The bangle opens by separating the lapis from the wristband as seen in the photograph. Granula...
Category

Late 20th Century Byzantine Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry

Materials

Lapis Lazuli, Gold, 18k Gold

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