Lalaounis Has Reissued Jackie Kennedy's Iconic Apollo Earrings
Welcome to the Holy Grails of Jewelry, Editor-in-Chief (and jewelry expert) Stellene Volandes's regular dispatch on iconic pieces and the most fascinating jewelers working today.
Here is how the perfect day begins in Athens. Breakfast and first frappe (a shaken Nescafe iced coffee that is basically, aside from ouzo, the official drink of Greece) of the Grande Bretagne. Second frappe at Zonars down the block. Third frappe at Lalaounis. And make the last one last as we will be here for a while.
If you have ever asked me for an Athens itinerary, a stop at the Lalaounis store at 6 Panepistimiou Avenue and Voukourestiou Street, is on there. In fact, I would advise you not to trust any Athens itinerary that leaves it out. There has been a Greek jewelry boom in recent years with outstanding work from a new generation including Nikos Koulis, Theodoros Savopoulos, Eugenie Niarchos, Elena Votsi, and Ileana Makri, and Lito, but Lalaounis remains King, a fact all of the above names would likely agree on.
Ilias Lalaounis began working with his uncle, also a jeweler, in the 1950s, just as Greece was recovering from the war. In 1957 he established the Greek Jewelers Association and launched his own Archeological Collection, pieces, in the deep 22k yellow gold that he called “the most human material” and that would become his signature, inspired by great Greek civilizations: Minoan, Mycenean, Helen of Troy.
Here is where I come in. One of the jewelry questions I get asked the most, aside from what should I get my wife for Christmas, is how did this obsession start in the first place? It began at Lalaounis. There was a concession at the Athens Hilton where my family and I stayed during our annual Athens
It was there that the link between bright shining objects and art and culture and history was formed for me. The saleswoman showed me a book illustrating how Heinrich Schliemann's discoveries at Troy had influenced Mr. Lalaounis’s most recent collections.
There on the pages were images of the bounty, what Schielmann called “Priam’s treasure,” a diadem, and mounds of the gold necklaces, the gilded Mask of Agamemnon. Near the book, on a velvet tray, were gold earrings and lariats and amulets that chronicled in stones and precious metal both the ancient inspiration and the modern jewelers' translation of it. I was a surly teenager still, but something seeped in. A few years later I would buy my first piece of signed jeweler in that same store, a gold band with a cabochon emerald and a few still diamonds. I still have it.
I tell this story to the Lalaounis sisters, now treasured friends, almost every time I see them, whether in Athens at the store or the Lalaounis Museum or at jewelry trade shows around the world. And I certainly mentioned it when I saw that they had reimagined the Apollo earrings their father had custom made for Aristotle Onassis to give to Jackie in 1969 to commemorate the moon landing. I had wanted them to remake those for years.
Jackie, in the Apollo earrings, with Ari.
Jackie is wearing them in one of my favorite images of the couple. She is dressed casually in a Pucci shift with the earrings and a long strand of small pearls. The Apollo earrings are clearly visible and her hair is loose and maybe even a bit wet. He sits next to her, clearly rapt, and obviously proud.
It’s the perfect embodiment of all I know to be true about jewelry. Those earrings clearly represented a landmark in their own lives, but it celebrated a much more public one as well. At its best, jewelry is
The reissued Apollo earrings.
And will the new Lalaounis Apollo earrings, now with diamonds studded into the gold instead of the original rubies, become a part of my own jewelry legend? Working on it.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.