Athens. March 19, 2021. Designer Alexia Gryllaki of the eponymous design firm lets geometry guide her gemstone-rich jewelry aesthetic.
Gryllaki, a native of Greece, has long loved both math and art, nurturing both inclinations throughout her life. When it came time for university studies, she leaned toward architecture since it combined both art and science, earning an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and the History of Science in Greece. Her dissertation topic was modern and post-modern architecture because of her love of design. As she worked on it, she bought herself a bracelet during a random shopping excursion and pondered what the design would look like if small changes were made to it. Realizing she was sitting on a large stash of her mother’s jewels from the 1980s, she took a few dated pieces to a local jeweler to be redesigned, happily realizing that sentimental pieces passed from generation to generation could be reborn, similar to a store-bought skirt altered after purchase.
Jewelry design became yet another intellectual pursuit for her, even as she worked toward a master’s degree in corporate finance in Rome. To see if jewelry could be more than just a hobby, Gryllaki took evening design classes at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Her interest grew stronger, and she went on to secure a graduate gemology degree at the Gemological Institute of America in London. Jewelry turned out to be as much a balance of art and science as architecture, her original career pursuit.
“Jewelry just clicked for me,” she explains. “Just as you can’t design a house without rules, the same applies for jewelry; you have to follow rules, you can’t design something without logic behind it.”
Not surprisingly, the logic and math helped define her aesthetic. While the overall look of her jewelry features clean lines and structure, her signature is balanced proportions of small gemstones that paint vivid pictures of beauty, even in asymmetrical designs. “If I create a mismatched design, it features the same stones in reverse, they would not be completely different,” she says. Gryllaki approaches design in a deconstructed manner that lets geometry serve as the unifier between collections.
From the perfectly balanced proportions of her One-Of-A-Stone collection to her Interlocking Geometry line of wire-thin geometric shapes with gemstone accents, symmetric displays of stones and metal are routinely her design DNA. Scale is another signature. “I find it more interesting to create something affordable, using smaller and more accessible stones, than I do the larger exquisite gems—though as a gemologist, I certainly appreciate them.”
She spent several years designing for Italian and Greek jewelers before mustering the courage to debut her own line in 2016. Why then? She took the top prize in the International Pearl Design Competition from the Cultured Pearl Association of America in the fall of 2015 for her Illusion earrings. A year later, she won another award in the same competition for her Diversity earrings.
Today, bench jewelers both in Greece and London help bring her 18k gold work to life. And she’s also working on book of tips that newbie designers will find helpful.
“I want to pass on the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years to those who want to become jewelry designers and, like me, are starting from scratch without any previous ties to the industry,” she explains.
Multi-stone necklace in 18k white, yellow or rose gold with 0.17 ct. t.w. baguette- and round-shape faceted sapphires, 0.10 ct. t.w. round brilliant-cut colorless diamonds, and 0.07 ct. t.w. round faceted aquamarines, €920; available online at Alexia Gryllaki
Multi-stone ring in 18k yellow gold with 0.50 ct. t.w. round faceted tanzanite, and 0.18 ct. t.w. round faceted spinel, 0.14 ct. baguette-cut colorless diamond approx., and 0.06 ct. t.w. round cabochon-cut coral, €1,980;
available online at Alexia Gryllaki
Award-winning Illusion earrings in 18k black rhodium-plated gold with 4.98 cts. t.w. round brilliant-cut champagne diamonds, 4.66 cts. t.w. baguette-cut colorless diamonds, two South Sea pearls, and 14k akoya pearls;
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