Where can you find two women archaeologists who independently decided to create a jewelry collection inspired by their excavations?
In Athens, of course, the Acropolis dominates the cityscape and is a constant reminder of history.
Stalo Karides and her daughter Maria-Alexia Karides founded Ysso (from the Greek word chrysso, which means gold in Greek), while Polina Sapouna Ellis has a women’s business named after her, creating jewelry and souvenirs that are nothing short of authentic. similarities. Cheesy bauble with evil eyes, beads and faux coins for sale in the store. Instead, the subtle influence of these women’s deep knowledge of what was once beneath their feet preserves the spirit of antiquity in their creations while appealing to contemporary tastes.
Dr Sapouna Ellis, 55, was born in Germany and began excavating at the age of 10, helping her uncle and aunt, renowned archaeologist Yannis Sakralakis Sakellarakis and Efi Sapouna-Sakellarakis. Their excavations of the Minoan palace of Arcanes on Crete had a lasting effect on her. “The Minoan period was one of the most peaceful civilizations,” said Dr Sapna Ellis. “People are respected for their spirit, not how much money they have.”
After earning a PhD in archeology from the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 1996, she moved to Athens and carried out several excavations, all the while harboring a desire to create, as the unearthed jewels kept haunting her. “I would see dead bodies wearing gold jewelry, and you would realize how important the jewelry was to them. It was like a part of the body,” she said. “Gold is precious; it is durable. Gold is what we live on.”
She began designing her own jewelry in 2010, adapting the forms and graphics she saw in the field into minimal, symbolic, linear designs, and founded her company the following year. The pieces “tell a story,” she said. “I want an education.”
For example, in her Minotavros series, the Minotaur, a legendary creature with the head of a bull, has a stylized representation of its horns, while the parallel lines of the Mycenaean design refer to ancient The folds of the robe in the statue. “I try to relate to the past in a modern way,” said Dr. Sapna Ellis.
Dr Sapouna Ellis’ designs range from simple pieces such as the €150 ($165) silver Aetos Dios ring to fine jewelry such as the handcrafted 18-carat white gold Syndesis necklace set with 22 brilliant-cut diamonds , with a total weight of 0.52 carats, for €150 ($165). 10,400 euros. She says she prefers to use platinum instead of yellow gold: “It doesn’t scream.”
Most of her pieces are made by four artisans at Joolworks, a studio just a few blocks from Athens’ central Syntagma Square. During a recent visit, an artisan was using a machine with a rotating wheel of bristles to create a matte finish on a gold bangle. Finishes are a signature feature of Polina Ellis jewelry and embody her philosophy: “I make the inside shiny but the outside matte. You don’t have to show off.”
Stalo Karides shares this aesthetic, and she doesn’t want the jewelry she makes for Aesop to be perfect. “When we dug, we found that the design wasn’t perfect,” she said. “It’s the imperfection that moves me.”
She became an archaeologist because, even as a child growing up in Cyprus, “I’ve always loved old things.” She was “fascinated by digs” because of their inherent “mystery of not knowing what you might find underneath.” feel”.
In the 1970s, she went to study at the Université de Milay in Toulouse, France, where she obtained a BA in Archeology and Art History and a MA in History. She started a PhD in archaeology, but got a dream job while visiting her family who moved to Athens after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. She gave up her studies and started working for the Greek Ministry of Culture, organizing archaeological exhibitions and conducting excavations in Samos, the eastern Aegean and Delphi. But something is missing.
Jewels captured her imagination and wouldn’t let it go. “I admire my mother’s jewelry. She loves gold,” Ms. Karides said. Before the family moved to Athens, “my mother hid her jewelry in the closet, thinking she’d come back and get it someday”—but she never did.
Then, Ms. Karides said, “I found a small gold coin when I was clearing under the paving stones in Samos. Someone hid it, this treasure, thinking that one day they would come back for it.”
For Ms. Karides, this situation illustrates why jewelry is full of emotion. So, every day after work, “I go to the studio and learn how to make jewelry by hand.”
Karides’ 34-year-old daughter, Alexia, wore her mother’s designs while working as a lawyer in London. “I would wear these jewels and my friends would ask me where I got them,” she said.
She started selling work, and then “in 2017, I left the law firm; in 2019, I registered the firm, and in 2020, we started trading.” In addition to being CEO of Ysso, Alexia Karides has created her own Designing, her childhood was spent going to workshops with her mother, surrounded by jewelry.
The workshop that turns the Karides’ designs into jewelry is located in a quiet, leafy neighborhood on the outskirts of Athens. The studio works with 50 companies, but says owner Christos Rizadis, “What we do for Ysso is completely different. They focus more on the ancient Greek way of making. And the designs are different. Their jewelry doesn’t look like mine.” any other jewelry.”
The imperfections that the mother-daughter team loves are intentionally incorporated into each piece. For example, the Droplet earrings, which are designed based on the shape formed when water droplets hit a hard surface, have irregular girths, and customers can choose: Both earrings can be shiny, textured, or can be purchased separately and worn as Mismatched pair.
In other hands, a loop that looks like a coiled ribbon might be a perfect circle, but in Aesop, it has irregular edges. “If it was perfect, it wouldn’t be us,” Alexia Karides said. All of the jewels have bronze mounts and are double-plated, first with 24-karat gold and then 18-karat gold, to create what she calls a “buttery gold tone” and sell for £90-£450 ($115-$115 ). $575).
The company has an archive of around 200 designs that can be republished as needed, and that number is constantly growing. “I never stop sketching,” says Stalow Karides. “I carry a notebook with me all the time. My life is creating these things. Let’s just say I’m obsessed.”