CULTURE

Charming little gifts for 2004

Whether symbols of love or the gifts of nature, gouria, the traditional Greek lucky charms celebrating the New Year, are back again. With a subject matter stretching from antiquity to contemporary design, don’t expect to locate them solely in your Vassilopita piece – they make pretty gifts too. This year’s amulet collection at the Benaki Museum includes a replica of a Byzantine coin, as well as a boat and a flower, among other designs, in the form of pendants, all available in silver or gold. (Benaki Museum, 1 Koumbari, Kolonaki, 210.367.1000.) The Museum of Cycladic Art also offers a choice: Michalis Makroulakis’s goddess Athena surrounded by olive branches is available in silver and gold-plated silver, while Ileana Makris’s abstract «Runner,» exclusively designed for the museum, is available in silver or gold-plated silver. (Museum of Cycladic Art, 4 Neophytou Douka, tel 210.722.8321.) At the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the amulet is based on a detail from an ancient lamp. Mounted in silver, the motif also features in brooches, pendants and small boxes. (Byzantine and Christian Museum, 22 Vas. Sofias, tel 210.721.1027.) The Athens Concert Hall and the Zoumboulakis Galleries complete the «Four Years Olympic Greece» collectors’ series this year with highly acclaimed artist Nikolaos Gyzis’s work «Doxa» (Glory). The last of the series, this lucky charm is double-faced, featuring Gyzis’s work on one side and artist Yiannis Gourzis’s double wreath, symbolizing love, luck and well-being, on the other. This is a limited edition piece of solid gold, silver or a combination of the two (complete with a semiprecious aquamarine) with the mold scheduled to be destroyed at the beginning of the new year. (Athens Concert Hall, Vas. Sofias & Kokkali, tel 210.728.2333; Zoumboulakis Galleries, 7 Kriezotou & 20 Kolonaki Square, tel 210.360.7409; Papasotiriou Bookstores, 210.223.2300.) Sports in antiquity was the inspiration behind this year’s lucky charm at the house of Lalaounis. Available in silver or gold, the amulet depicts the «Tavrokathapsia,» a popular Minoan sport featuring bulls. (Ilias Lalaounis, 6 Panepistimiou & Voukourestiou, tel 210.362.4354.) Sport was also on the mind of Zolotas Jewelers, with this year’s double-faced lucky charm featuring a runner in motion, available in gold, silver and copper. The new one being the year of the Athens Olympics, Zolotas Jewelers also present another five designs (take a look if you’re into collecting) honoring sport disciplines at which Greek athletes have excelled. (Zolotas Jewelers, 9 Stadiou, tel 210.322.1222.) A double treat awaits those visiting Fanourakis, where jewelry designer Lina Fanourakis has come up with a jellyfish as well as a caterpillar. Both are available in gold and silver. (Fanourakis, 23 Patriarchou Ioakeim, tel 210.721.1762.) Nature is also the theme at Maramenos & Pateras jewelers, with an octopus symbolizing stability, faith, harmony, kindliness, clarity and optimism. It is available in silver, with a touch of gold. (Maramenos & Pateras, 30 Mitropoleos & 3 Stadiou, tel 210.324.6885.) Kaiti Tazedaki goes back to ancient Greece, tracing the history of the bee. Besides being a hard worker, Tazedaki’s cartoon-like bee promises fertility, abundance and sweetness. (To Petradi Gallery, 15 Dimocritou, Kolonaki, tel 210.361.2780.) Greece’s omnipresent white and blue lies behind this year’s lucky charm of the Tsitouras Collection: available in silver and gold-plated silver, the amulet’s motif, «2004,» comes with a white and blue ribbon. (The Tsitouras Collection, 80 Solonos, tel 210.362.2326.) On a more minimalist note, jewelry designer Elena Votsi (also the creator of the Athens 2004 new Olympic medals) salutes the new year with a stylish silver flag, to be worn with a piece of red string. (Elena Votsi, 7 Xanthou, Kolonaki, tel 210.360.0936.)