From Greece, Jewelry by Elena Votsi

General / People / Places / Products / June 2, 2014

By Julia Lucia, Stone & Strand

Elena Votsi has been passionately inspired by jewelry from a very young age. A life-long resident of the island of Hydra, Greece, she has an endless source of inspiration. Known for its rich fashion culture, Hydra is the home of Elena’s first jewelry boutique.

A holiday favorite among the European elite, the island boasts picturesque hills and blue waters that instantly capture the hearts of guests. The island is the epitome of true Greek spirit: the only transportation is via foot, donkey or horse, and the hills are spotted with crisp white architecture and brilliant pops of color. With narrow streets and an endless summer feeling, it’s no surprise that the Elena has chosen to raise her son in the exact same place that has brought her inspiration, success, and happiness.

One of her earliest memories with jewelry is her adoration of the stylish rings that adorned her mother’s hands. Her mother, one of the many chic women of Hydra, encouraged Elena’s fixation.  As they travelled around the world; they made certain to visit as many vintage jewelry boutiques as possible.

Pursuing her passion, she graduated from both the School of Fine Arts in Athens and the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, bringing an artist’s eye to the jewelry she designs today.  After 20 years of experience, Elena has collected a multitude of awards; the most prestigious of them being given the honor of re-designing the Olympic Medal for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Elena’s love for Greece and its profound history in both mythology and antiquity was not only expressed in the re-design, but is her muse for the charismatic jewelry collections. As a strong woman, mother and designer, her infectious spirit is beautifully translated into her jewelry, inviting every woman to her “fairy tale of luxury and art.”

Elena describes the Olympic Medal re-design as the biggest honor of her career. The Olympic Committee chose her designs for the first official ‘revamping’ of the medal since the 1928 games in Amsterdam. She found inspiration in her strong connection to Greek culture, both present and past.

She chose the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens, the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 as the setting for her design. It’s the only stadium in the world made of solid white marble.  Nike, the winged goddess of victory, is gracefully floating into this stadium on the medal. She is known for bestowing glory and fame among the victors of ancient battle, and she will continue to do so for today’s Olympic winners. Elena’s design was chosen for the front of the gold, silver and bronze medals for all future Olympics, turning her work into a piece of history.  

Not only did she find inspiration from the Greek gods for her Olympic medal, Elena was clearly under the Greek god Cupid’s influence when designing the EROS collection, with a theme of hearts and arrows.  They’re adorned with gemstones, from richly hued rubies and sapphires to brilliant white and black diamonds.

The island of Hydra is the hub of Elena’s inspiration, and a place of both nostalgia and novelty. These two elements translate into the timelessly beautiful, yet modern and fun pieces of her collection.  She works exclusively in 18k gold, believing that it is a natural symbol of beauty and power.  Playing with shapes and stones, Elena wants “the women who wear [her] pieces to feel beautiful, special, self-confident, and unique.”

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

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