CULTURE

Jeweler Ilias Lalaounis, 93, dies

Internationally acclaimed Greek jeweler Ilias Lalaounis died in Athens at the age of 93.

Known for his collections inspired by Greek history, Lalaounis succeeded in developing one of a handful of local luxury brands boasting global recognition.

Born in Athens in 1920, the jeweler immersed himself in the study of Greek antiquity and ancient goldsmith techniques in the 1950s. The idea for the brand began when two American women asked Lalaounis to reproduce two pieces of jewerly based on ancient Greek motifs they had seen in a museum.

From paleolithic and neolithic times to the era of Byzantium, without discarding other cultural influences such as the colorful traditions of Africa, he developed, over the years, dozens of collections destined to his local and international clientele. The company’s first store abroad opened in Paris in turbulent 1968.

As the Lalaounis jewelry style became a reference of the so-called Greek chic, the house’s handmade pieces were available in company stores across the world, including New York, Geneva and Tokyo as well as in upmarket department stores.

In 1986, Lalaounis became a member of the French Academy of Fine Arts, while in 1993, he inaugurated the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum situated near the Acropolis in Athens.

Continuing the Lalaounis tradition through the company and the museum are his four daughters: Aikaterini, Demetra, Maria and Ioanna.