Jewellery is there to make people dream, it’s pure fantasy. As a child I was very imaginative, I loved dressing up in beautiful costumes and accessorising with jewellery. That fantasy is very much part of my creative process today at Venyx. I recently found an essay I wrote for French class when I was little which was so surreal, totally dreamlike.
Greece and the blue Aegean Sea are always present in the jewels I create. You’ll find a lot of Greek mythology and symbolism in my work. Then there is Paris — I went to school in France. I loved history, all those portraits of kings and queens in fabulous costumes and amazing jewellery.
I grew up in a very creative household. Art has always been part of my family; it's been an immensely formative influence. Being able to meet and talk to some contemporary creators has been inspiring on many levels. I have always been curious and excited to learn about the inspirations and the stories behind all kinds of artwork.
The jewellery business is very male-dominated, but that hasn’t been a problem. In fact, I think I have an advantage as a woman because I have also been a client — I’ve collected, appreciated and worn jewellery. I understand its proportions and what women want from it.
Diane von Furstenberg guided me at the beginning. She told me to have the confidence to carry on, even when things go wrong. When businesses start, they sometimes have a tendency to be all things to all people, which dilutes the brand and the original direction. Being advised not to lose sight of the initial idea, and to stay true to it, was valuable for me.
Running Venyx over the past five years has been a constant learning curve. That is what makes it exciting. You learn and you fine tune the details at all levels. Most importantly, you build up confidence by learning from your mistakes. Maybe there are a few things that I would have done differently, but I have no regrets — it is all about the process.
I imagine the kind of woman who wears my jewellery as eclectic, with an interest in history. I am fascinated by antiquity and ancient cultures, from the Greeks and Romans to the Egyptians and Pre-Colombian cultures. But I also love the romanticism of Art Nouveau, the geometry of Art Deco and the playfulness of the 1950s and 1960s. My work is often a mix of elements and inspirations from some of these periods, but always has an eye on the future.
I don’t do trends. My pieces are designed to be handed down through the generations, and so they need to be timeless. Fashion is so fast-paced, with designers obliged to come up with new collections every couple of months. I want to create things that will be cherished and passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter.
Opals are magical stones. They are beautiful and illuminating and have such an array of colours.
Making jewellery can be very unpredictable. You never know if something is going to work. I’m currently making pieces inspired by the Earth, using azurite and metal to create little maps and planets. I’m also working with agate — if I get this right the agate will look like a tree, with a moon setting in the background, but I don’t want to say too much in case I jeopardise it!
Archives are a wonderful place to find inspiration. If you look at the archives of Cartier or Boucheron, you’ll find drawings for rare and exotic pieces. I love antique jewellery too, particularly from the late 18th century, although a lot of the time it is unsigned.
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It’s difficult to stay grounded when a collection is about to launch. Small, short routines in my daily life help, or a chat and a laugh with a good friend. Inevitably it’s the simple things — a walk in nature with my dog — that I turn to whenever possible.
Eugenie Niarchos will be showcasing an exclusive selection of jewels by Venyx at the Jewels Salon Christie’s, 8 King Street, London until 4 October