The Royal Jewellers S01 ep12 : Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery [Athens]

Interview with Ilias Lalaounis

ATHENS- Ilias Lalaounis - "Grecian Gold" inspired by history and prehistory. The big imagination that I have, if I was for example sculpting in marble - one piece every two or three years I would never have been able to realize more than 60,000 designs that I have created.


Ilias & Joanna Lalounis

JOANNA: Well I come from a family, which has a big jewellery tradition, I am a
4th generation jeweller. I am a trained goldsmith and I know many of the
techniques that we show and teach in the museum. I love also to write about
jewels and also have a more sociological view on jewellery. The image they
have today and in the 20Century is completely different to what it has been in
the last 1000’s of years.

KM – Why are the four daughters following in his footsteps?

JOANNA: Brainwashing

KM – Seriously

JOANNA: I think also it is an ideal business to be in. Each daughter has her
own field and we all work together but everyone in their own field.

KM – What does each daughter do?

Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery

JOANNA: Katerini the eldest design jewellery, and she is responsible for the
gallery in Greece. Dimitra is responsible for the galleries abroad and Maria is
responsible for the workshops and also designs new pieces.

KM – And clearly you are responsible for the museum

JOANNA: I am responsible for the museum, which has the responsibility of
conserving and keeping Lalaounis designs, but also making them known
around the world more and have them enter more private and public

KM – Why did you decide to do this?

ILIAS: Because I like very much this Greek art the ancient Greek art. I have a
professor in the university he was a professor of philosophy and after he was
the president of the republic, he was Konstantine Chaccios, I was very close to
him and he was disappointed that I left science to go to the arts and said to
me, "At least Ilias you must bring at the Ancient Greek design to the modern

Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery

JOANNA: What makes my father different is that he is he is talent in diverse
field. His talent in design and inspiration is one thing and his talent in business
and marketing is another and combined he made the company. Of course as
you know until 1967 he was the manager of the Zolotas firm which his cousins
a family firm, and everything he designed and everything he produced and
marketing was under the name Zolotas. After 1967 he started his own firm with
his own logo.

ILIAS: Imagination that is a gift from the God and fortunately I have and I have
also, if God gives me the time I have other collections.

JOANNA: What is my father is producing is a different thing to what I want to
show in the museum. My father has been producing jewellery that has to be
worn and that has a story to tell. They are inspired from the history of Greek
art and from 14 different cultures. He has jewellery that has been inspired by
nature, modern technology, biology, children’s designs and what not. My
aspect in the museum is however, is to have temporary exhibitions which show
jewellery which are in storage of hundreds of museums that serves not only
the applied art but the fine art of jewellery and jewels that have a symbolic
meaning for the period that they were made for.

Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery

KM – Are you a jeweller first or an art historian first?

ILIAS: I am a jeweller, always a jeweller.

JOANNA: The ancients had the jewels throughout their lives and also they
carried with them in their grave. So it was not just something that would
decorate them, it was something that could be symbolic and it could be an
amulet. It is definitely not a status symbol as it has been in the last few

ILIAS: My big imagination that I have if I was for example sculpting in marble -
one piece every two or three years I would never have been able to realize
more than 60,000 designs that I have created, and I am pleased that I used
this material [gold] for my inspirations, my ideas and my imagination that is for
me jewellery.

Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery

JOANNA: I want to find more and show more to the world more about the
sociological meaning of jewellery because there are wonderful jewellery that
have not been seen by man’s eye in the last…. Or ever in the storage of
museums and I want to see is for jewellery to be elevated not only as a
decorative art as it has been but as a fine art together with sculpture,
architecture, painting etc


KM – This ancient filigree technique you were saying from 4BC, how do you
find out how they did it?

ILIAS: Thanks you see, to the archaeologists.

JOANNA: It is no secret that my father started the tradition on gold smithery
and on ancient gold smithery traditions as in techniques and designs so since
then we find many of his followers working the ancient techniques being
inspired by ancient Greek art.

ILIAS: You must accept the taste - the human taste of today. The human taste
of today is the abstraction.

JOANNA: I think in America you will find all sorts of kinds of types of women
and their relationship to jewellery and I think it will cover all the types. Women
wearing jewellery as a status symbol, women wearing jewellery that are artist’s
jewellery because they are simple because they are unique and because they
are very original and then you also have women wearing mass produced

ILIAS: If you go to Madison Avenue, you see many examples of ancient
techniques- not France or London, but the Americans are more progressive
than the European and I am very pleased to see the Filagree work adapted
with modern jewellery.

JOANNA: His interest is not only to make jewellery and sell them, as he would
say, but also to make sure that women wear something that is symbolic and
something that is easy and wearable. He wants jewellery to serve the applied
arts not only the decorative arts. He believes that jewellery has to be two
dimensional and easy to wear.

ILIAS: The woman likes to be beautiful, she likes to be attractive, to be
different from the others, that is the woman I provoke, provoke all the fashion
and provoke also the jewellery.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery