COLLECTING
Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Ilias Lalaounis
Archaic design for necklace (with dark red garnets in cabochon) and brooch (with malachite). Courtesy of Lalaounis.

Archaic design for necklace (with dark red garnets in cabochon) and brooch (with malachite). Courtesy of Lalaounis.

For saturated tastes such as ours today, few are the luxury pieces that stand apart. As consumers we have become blasé precisely because the market is crowded with too many brands fighting for our attention. Print ads, promotional videos, short films, Facebook endorsements, and chatty tweets raise the volume of noise and confusion.

To counter that noise, Ilias Lalaounis, a Greek brand renowned for its handmade golden and silver accessories and decorative pieces, offers a sanctuary in its New York based boutique (newly relocated to 31 East 64th Street), one that reverberates with the harmony of quality, elegance, and passion. Far from a white cube, Lalaounis’s museum-quality space is dressed in a rosy-colored, plush wall-to-wall carpet and showcases the brand’s pieces in minimal white cases against white walls. There is no art displayed in the space, except of course for the brand’s own pieces.

Made of gold primarily (and of silver occasionally) Lalaounis jewelry offers gravitas. Each piece perfectly crafted, whether lovingly hand-hammered or patiently hand-woven, exemplifies the goldsmith’s techniques as they evolved through time from Ancient Greece to the present.  Stylistically, most designs are a variation of ancient themes. This gives the goldsmith the opportunity to reveal his talent in granulation, wiring, hand hammering, or weaving. And while the point of departure seems to be rooted in the past, the final result is always contemporary and timeless.

Contrary to other luxury brands that compete in the amount of stones they can set in each piece, Lalaounis designs tell their story in gold. Stones come second and, as they are set in the piece, they further highlight gold’s texture, color, and purity. (Lalaounis is one of the very few brands that create pieces in 22K gold.) Combinations of textures, purity, and color form dazzling examples of ingenuity and imagination. All pieces come in limited editions. They all look as if of the same family but not quite alike. Similar to individuals who live under the same roof, Lalaounis pieces tell more or less the same story, peppered with personal experiences, desires, and dreams. For people who appreciate craftsmanship, traditional techniques, and artistic innovation these are works to make one’s own.

© Thomaï Serdari