Few designers work on the opposite ends of the inspirational timeline as effortlessly as Elena Votsi. The Greek super talent often draws on the ancient culture that surrounds her life in Athens and Hydra. Since she won the competition to redesign the front of the summer Olympics medal in 2004, her flair for the classics have become known throughout the world. Votsi’s heroic depiction of the goddess Nike at the center of Kallimarmaro stadium could be seen clearly during the medal ceremonies when top athletes won the prize throughout the Summer Games in Rio.
Bold geometry is Votsi’s main muse for her fine jewelry collection. Her unforgettable rings come in all kinds of forms—lines that extend across and jut above the fingers, balls and hemispheres that rest on top of the hand. The designer’s smaller pieces amazingly maintain the same sculptural quality.
When the opportunity to participate in the Gemfields x Muse collaboration came along, Votsi chose to reimagine some of her celebrated signature designs in emeralds and rubies from Gemfields. One of her eye-catching pieces from the collection, an emerald Cyclos ring, has been worn several times on the red carpet by star of the film Loving, Ruth Negga.
The designer, who was reached in Athens, told me how the colorful stones enhanced her work and the fascinating backstory behind each piece.
I love the way you set the Gemfields rubies and emeralds in the heart from the Eros collection. The mismatched earrings are divine and the ring is so sweet. First, could you tell what inspired these romantic jewels?
When I was studying at the Royal College of Art in London, I wanted to have Greece with me. To me the heart represents Eros, the Greek god of love, who is always trying to make people fall in love by shooting them with his arrows. The design was actually the theme of my final project at school. I received the Bakri Memorial Award for it.
So much of your work is epic in scale but these are comparatively delicate and gently folded. Tell me about the size and silhouette.
The heart with all the symbolism behind it has to be delicate, fragile and feminine. After all, the heart must be small because it must be easy to offer to someone special and easy to receive.
The folded heart is about the secrets it keeps. The love it hides. The message it delivers. It is folded because it protects everything we love, everything we dream for. It’s like a nest. It keeps and protects everything special and extraordinary.
What made you decide to use a blackened finish for the setting of the Gemfields rubies and emeralds in the hearts?
I like to write my own rules about creativity and what the colors of the metal should be. Sometimes black is the best background to show brighter colors. It also comes from my passion for playing with light and shadow. On my paintings as a student at the School of Fine Arts in Athens, I loved black. I enjoyed the challenge of painting on something so strong and unusual compared to basic white. Now, instead of playing with paints, I am playing with stones.
Another one of your featured designs in the Gemfields x Muse collection is the Cyclos ring. The hemisphere shape of this design is so strong and special. What was the inspiration?
The Cyclos collection is inspired by the sun and the perfection of a circle. I love the fact that the ring is so sculptural and rests high above the finger.
What do you like about the look of the Gemfields rubies and emeralds for the Cylos ring?
The flat surface of those rings is the best base to show the brightness and color of stones. The Gemfields rubies and emeralds with their warm and bright colors show off the shape of the rings better than any other gems. Gemfields stones look like a bright carpet on the surface of the Cyclos rings which was my goal for how gems should look when I created the design.
On your monumental sized Line rings you added Gemfields cabochon emeralds at the ends of the lines. Tell me what these emerald accents added to your boldest designs?
The touches of color with the gems add an extra element of luxury. The rounded cabochon shape of the Gemfields stones gives a soft end to a strong design. They work like a small surprise, a secret for the woman who is wearing it and her friends who can see it. The small details make a big difference in the piece. A beautiful stone, even a small one, can give you the balance you want, the warmth you need.
Gemfields is the world’s leading supplier of responsibly sourced colored gemstones. Tell me what this means to you?
When I studied painting in college my teachers would say, ‘Always buy the best color paints, no matter the price. Colors will be your world now.’ Gemfields for me is the best supplier of colorful paints for my jewelry canvases. I can’t think of something more important than this.
For more information on the Line and Cyclos rings from the Gemfields x Muse collection contact info@
Created in partnership with Gemfields, this post is one of a series of stories about designers who participated in the Gemfields x Muse collaboration.
Gemfields is the world’s leading supplier of responsibly sourced colored gemstones, specializing in emeralds from Zambia and rubies from Mozambique.
Muse is the fine jewelry industry’s premier showroom for emerging and established talent.