We often talk about the crossover between jewellery and art, and it is the clash of these two worlds that inspired Greek designer Alexia Gryllaki’s One-of-a-Stone collection. The gemstone-centric jewels are an homage to painterly strokes, with gems chosen for their colour and flair.
Alexia has grouped gems to create colour palates inspired by the work of a wide range of artists. Chrysoprase, amazonites and turquoise mimic the shades in Jackson Pollock’s Tropical. Coral, garnets and champagne diamonds are paired to Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies.
The shapes, hues and textures of the gems are also a source of inspiration in themselves for the designer, who has chosen to work predominantly with smooth cabochon cuts that accentuate gem colours. These soft shapes are accentuated with faceted coloured stones and diamonds.
In an exclusive interview, Alexia Gryllaki tells us more about this collection and her love of gems.
Alexia Gryllaki 18ct gold, diamond, emerald and coral One-of-a-Stone ring, €1,940 shop at Alexia Gryllaki
Alexia Gryllaki 18ct gold, diamond, emerald, coral and chrysoprase One-of-a-Stone ear climbers, €3,690 shop at Alexia Gryllaki
What drew you to the gemstones you chose to work with in One-of-a-Stone?
“My first job in the jewellery industry was as a stock controller and gemmologist at Holts in Hatton Garden. My priceless experience there gave me the opportunity to come across a wide variety of unusual gemstones and appreciate their unique beauty and characteristics. During that time, I started collecting samples for each gemstone type. The parcel of samples stones evolved into a large gemstone collection, which transformed into an endless source of inspiration. So, I decided to create a collection dedicated to gemmology, by using stones of all imaginable colours, all types of transparency and opacity, and of all shapes and cuts. I used Angel Skin corals for their unparalleled subtle peach hues, chrysoprase cabochons for their soothing texture, red spinels for their vibrant colour, and many more that are praised for their distinct features. That job shaped me as a designer and, inevitably, all my creations include gemstones, whether they are diamonds or uncommon and extraordinary coloured stones.”
What makes for a great gemstone?
“As a gemologist, I would say that what makes a gemstone great is a combination of its hardness, durability, sparsity and overall quality. As a jewellery designer, I would say that the best gemstone is the one that the customer likes more, whether that is based on its colour, shape or any other characteristic that someone finds appealing. Almost all qualities of gemstones can be used in jewellery, if they are incorporated in the right design and set on a secure setting. So, despite the objective value of a gemstone, personal taste is the most important factor when buying a stone because that is the one that will make the wearer enjoy it the most.”
As well as choosing gems for their colour, you thought carefully about cut and clarity for One-of-a-Stone. Can you tell us more about this?
“All the gemstones in the collection are calibrated stones because I wanted to overcome the challenge of creating something unique and beautiful from commonly used shapes and cuts. My main goal was to reveal the infinite possibilities of gemstones and explore the beauty in all their different versions, regarding their cut, shape and opacity. For example, I used aquamarines in their vibrant greenish-blue faceted version, as well as baby blue translucent cabochons. The shapes of the gemstones in the collection vary from oval and rounds to square and rectangular, which are brought together to create a playful relationship between soft curves and strict lines.”
Alexia Gryllaki 18ct gold, turquoise, amethyst, spinel and champagne diamond One-of-a-Stone earrings, €1,030, shop at Alexia Gryllaki
There are some very painterly inspirations in the lookbook. How did art inspire this collection?
“Modern and postmodern art are my favourite art periods, and I decided to use gemstones as my designing medium to create elegant jewellery paintings, as if they belonged in that era. Every jewellery piece abstractly depicts the characteristics of those art movements; for example, Impressionism’s pastel tones, Expressionism’s vibrant hues, Geometric Abstraction’s forms, and more. The collection is a creative bond between art and gemmology.”
If someone only has time to look at one piece in the collection, which should it be?
“The piece that represents most the concept of the One-Of-A-Stone collection is the pair of coral and sapphire elongated earrings [see below]. They combine warm and cold hues in different tones, faceted and cabochon stones, elegant curved figures and rigid geometrical shapes, transparent and opaque gemstones; all coming together in a graceful figure of harmoniously graduating pastel and vibrant colours.”
The status of semi-precious gemstones is becoming more elevated in jewellery. What is your opinion on this? Are all gems precious?
“In my opinion, all gem-quality stones should be considered precious stones. Some gemstones – like diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds – are usually more valuable than others because of their long-lasting beauty and durability, however, a very fine opal can be worth more than a very included, poorly cut diamond of the same weight. Also, there are some stones that are praised for their unique colour or other features that cannot be found in other gemstones – for example, the unparalleled striking greenish blue of fine-quality turquoise, or the mystical blue sheen of moonstones, can never be found in a coloured diamond. Therefore, I believe that all gemstones are precious and should be praised for their own merits and distinct characteristics.”
Alexia Gryllaki 18ct gold, coral, diamond, sapphire and sodalite One-of-a-Stone earrings, €3,270, enquire at Alexia Gryllaki