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Melanie Georgacopoulos’ New ‘Carats’ Natural Hippopus Pearl Jewelry Collection Celebrates Design, Rarity, and Ingenuity

Embedded bracelet in recycled 18k yellow gold with white mother-of-pearl and 11 cts. t.w. white hippopus pearls, £16,200; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos

New York City. Feb. 2, 2021. To celebrate her 10th year in business, UK jewelry designer Melanie Georgacopoulos offers a natural pearl jewelry collection with one-of-a-kind designs. Called Carats, offerings include Hippopus non-nacreous natural pearls from the Hippopus tropical marine bivalve mollusk, or giant saltwater clam, along with diamonds and mother-of-pearl. The collection name refers to the fact that both diamonds and natural pearls, unlike cultured pearls, are measured in carat weight.

Many know of Georgacopoulos’ love affair with pearls and her ongoing desire to push the boundaries of designs with them, so to mark her special anniversary, she ensured that a specific type of natural pearl—the rarest of all pearls—took center stage. The name Hippopus comes from ancient Greek and means horse foot. Hippopus pearls are whitish in color and have a flame pattern like other non-nacreous natural pearls (think conch and melo melo), but cost less, and aren’t as widely seen in fine jewelry. Another positive in Georgacopoulos’ view?

“They look more special than natural freshwaters,” she explains of the gems she sourced from Indonesia.

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Hard to miss in the collection is Georgacopoulos’ new embedded jewelry technique, where diamonds or pearls appear to be pushed into mother-of-pearl to create a cushion-like effect.

“It took a lot of time to develop it with the carver,” she reveals. “We did several plasticine models, and the carver did a few samples with mother-of-pearl, before agreeing on the best way to make it look more ‘cushiony.’ I wanted the nacre to really look like it had been spontaneously pressed into, so as to highlight the softness of the mother-of-pearl, especially in contrast to the hard diamonds. The feeling of not being able to entirely control everything, such as the position of the most precious elements, feels appropriate at this time. COVID-19 has hindered production but also highlighted the importance of consuming less but better goods.”

Eliko Pearls has specialty pearls of all types, including Maki-e mosaic pearls, faceted pearls, and blue akoyas.

Also unique in the collection is the diversity of looks within it. Typically, collections feature matching pieces, but not Carats, which is an ongoing body of work featuring one-of-a-kind jewels that complement one another. Earrings, bangles, and rings bear different styles of diamonds with multiple shapes, cuts, colors, settings, and sizes. The resulting pieces don’t follow one single narrative or aesthetic. The artist also plans to show designs as they are completed, not all at one time, a move that eliminates a rigid race to finish items.

“I’m giving myself the freedom to design pieces that form a group whilst being different to each other rather than rolling out the same technique over 20 to 30 pieces as I’ve done in the past,” Georgacopoulos adds. “As more additions come in, you will see the narrative of pearls, mother-of-pearl, and diamonds evolving in terms of design and techniques used.” Eleven pieces are currently available, with more in production. All are made in recycled 18k white, yellow, and rose gold to complement the colors of the diamonds. Retail prices range from $5,400 to $30,000. To date, three pieces are on hold and several private commissions have been initiated. Interested parties can email info@melaniegeorgacopoulos.com for purchase.

V signet ring in recycled 18k white gold with lavender and white mother-of-pearl and 0.78 ct. t.w. colorless diamonds, £4,800; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos

V signet ring in recycled 18k white gold with lavender and white mother-of-pearl and 0.78 ct. t.w. colorless diamonds, £4,800; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos

Asymmetric drop earrings in 18k white and rose gold with 5.5 cts. t.w. white hippopus pearls and 0.91 cts. t.w. white and purple radiant-cut diamonds, £4,800; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos

Asymmetric drop earrings in 18k white and rose gold with 5.5 cts. t.w. white hippopus pearls and 0.91 cts. t.w. white and purple radiant-cut diamonds, £4,800; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos

Embedded bracelet in recycled 18k yellow gold with white mother-of-pearl and 11 cts. t.w. white hippopus pearls, £16,200; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos

Embedded bracelet in recycled 18k yellow gold with white mother-of-pearl and 11 cts. t.w. white hippopus pearls, £16,200; available online at Melanie Georgacopoulos


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