Sophia Kokosalaki is best known for reinterpreting her Greek heritage through her eponymous womenswear line, but the designer has recently turned her hand to fine jewellery. Her pieces range from the abstract to the decorative, and all possess an Athenian charm.
Kokosalaki swapped Greece for London back in 1996, graduating from her MA in womenswear at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 1998 and now designing from her Hackney studio. She has always maintained strong links with her homeland: her first foray into jewellery was in 2009 when she collaborated with the late Greek goldsmith Ilias Lalaounis.
Her solo collection has been handcrafted in Athens, using precious stones, sterling silver, 9ct gold and even Naxos marble. ‘There is a huge goldsmith tradition in Greece and the artisans are of a very high standard,’ says Kokosalaki. ‘My heritage is an endless source of inspiration for my work, but I try to give it a modern twist so it stands out. Usually I like harps or rams as they are related to my Cretan heritage, but I can also employ very abstract forms to tell a story.’
‘Cretan Ram’ ring in gold plated silver with freshwater pearls
The yellow gold ‘Cretan Ram’ ring spreads across two fingers, with the shanks ending halfway around the fingers so as to be invisible. In the middle sits a figurative ram’s head with twisted horns, studded with three freshwater pearls of descending sizes. Rather than a direct reinterpretation of a relic, it’s a contemporary nod to Kokosalaki’s roots.
Cleverly sized pearls also decorate the ‘Meteorfall’ earrings, twin arcs of sculpted rose gold. ‘I use freshwater pearls with rose gold which has a more modern edge to avoid the literal antique look,’ says Kokosalaki.
Other pieces are designed to wrap elegantly around wrists and ankles. The ‘Mytilus’ anklet is a string of tiny sea mussels with a hammered finish, and the ‘Elliptical III’ bracelet is a thick coil of yellow gold punctuated by a dangling charm: a Nemean lion’s head.
Kokosalaki’s initial concern is how a piece wears. ‘Fit, function and form is everything in jewellery design,’ she adds. ‘It is pointless to design something that cannot fit well within the female form, so considerations such as weight, curves and fit are the starting point and the priority.’