There is a micro-movement underway in jewelry right now that just might surprise you. Some of the best emerging designers, who are in fact millennials, are creating gold jewelry by hand in a style that references the work of ancient Greeks. The 25-year old designer Jean Prounis is among them.
A goldsmith, Jean began studying the art of granulation and ancient metalsmithing with the legendary jeweler Cecelia Bauer when she was just 18-years old, but says her passion for the classical world went back to childhood. “My father’s side of the family is Greek,” explains Jean. “My grandfather had a library on everything Greek and would show us things that left a strong impression on me.”
In 2017 Jean launched Prounis, a line of handmade designs filled with silhouettes and techniques from the distant past with proportions and design tweaks that make the jewels perfect for today. It caused an immediate sensational with clients and press interested in something with old soul. This year Jean added the Vow collection of rings for committed couples to her array of jewels.
If the techniques found in her jewelry collection make you think Jean is living in some bubble of the past, the way she describes and manufactures these rings proves she is completely in tune with the concerns of her generation and any conscious consumer. On the designer’s website it says the Vow collection is a “a symbol of modern devotion, self-care and purpose.”
In other words, these rings are for all—heterosexual and same sex couples who want to take their relationship to the alter, as well as those who just want to get a jewel as a sign of their commitment to one another. The self-care clearly is for the person who wants a special reward. The designer says she called the collection Vow because she didn’t want the pieces to be limited to engagement rings and wedding bands.
The philosophy behind the jewels is one thing. The manufacturing proves its not just talk to please consumers. “All the gold is recycled,” explains the designer. “I buy 24 Karat that has been extracted from scrap and alloy it with fine silver to make 22K gold that gives it some strength for everyday wear. It is the same alloy you will find in the Greek and Roman galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
The diamonds in the rings are also recycled. Jean works with a dealer who pulls Ice diamonds from vintage pieces that are headed to the refiner. The category of gems is an industry term applied to stones that are highly included and off-color. These types of gems were more commonly accepted in vintage jewelry. “I like the beautiful neutral palette of included diamonds,” explains Jean. “Each stone is just so beautiful and doesn’t need to be so precise and perfect.”
Seeing the beauty in what others overlook is an ideal that describes what many people are striving towards today. Those thoughts coupled with a reverence for the past makes the Vow collection one of the most dynamic and relevant collections we have seen in the engagement ring-wedding-band space in a long while.