COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Zolotas High Jewelry
Golden necklaces, 2012. Courtesy of Zolotas.

Golden necklaces, 2012. Courtesy of Zolotas.

The story of the oldest luxury firm in Greece, Zolotas, resonates with me because the founding family came from my hometown in Central Greece, which the family’s two sons, Lambros and Efthimios, left for Athens. By the end of the 19th century, the Greek capital had made considerable strides in refinement and cosmopolitanism.

While destined for an apprenticeship in bespoke men’s tailoring, Efthimios, independent and ambitious, decided to leave that trade to his brother and seek his own fortune as an apprentice next to a renowned goldsmith, Kostis Samiou. After a long Parisian stay, the latter returned to Athens equipped with the most innovative techniques and mastery in the jewelry trade. At Samiou’s encouragement, Efthimios spent a few years in Paris at various high jewelry ateliers and returned to Greece to practice his art.

 

Silver smithing by Zolotas. Courtesy of Zolotas.

Silver smithing by Zolotas. Courtesy of Zolotas.

With trepidation and the idealism of a young entrepreneur, Efthimios opened his store, “an experimental laboratory” in Athens. It quickly became the meeting place of the Athenian elite and of the Greek royals whose family extended to the King George V of England. Zolotas’s designs were soon to be included among the royal jewels in England and all over Europe.

Zolotas pieces fetch impressive prices at auctions today (Sotheby’s and Christie’s, London and Paris) but the firm never crossed the Atlantic. This has deprived the American market of truly remarkable signature pieces that appreciate with the passing of time. Both in the field of high jewelry and the decorative arts, Zolotas continues to stir powerful emotions with its approach to timeless luxury.

© Thomaï Serdari