With inspirations that range from sci-fi to antiquities and ancient civilizations to nature, Eugenie Niarchos creates jewelry that has an old-world feel, yet is thoroughly modern. She finds great joy in using something that is not an obvious choice for jewelry, such as mixing lava with diamonds and pearls. “The materials all come from the earth, so why not mix them?” she asks, “It gives the jewelry a fun side.” She takes that philosophy one step further mixing and matching pieces to create a personalized look for those who wear her jewelry.
Niarchos launched her line, Venyx— a combination of the words Venus and Onyx — five years ago. The realization that she wanted to design jewelry came to Niarchos while she was collaborating on a collection with jewelry design house Repossi to create jewels with a younger, cooler vibe. Before striking out on her own, Niarchos designed costume jewelry for the French fashion brand Azzaro. She also attended the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Born in New York City and raised in Paris, Niarchos is currently based in London. She has a large design vocabulary and often builds her pieces around a gemstone. But one element that is always there is a nod to the past, grounded in her own style. “You have to pay attention to the past or you lose tradition,” she observes in her soft-spoken manner. “Today’s lifestyle is more casual and people are wearing less jewelry. I make jewelry that is more wearable.”
I recently met Niarchos during an exhibition of her work at Christie’s New York, where she had interned ten years earlier. We sat down to talk about jewelry as well as fashion, personal style and design.
Amber Michelle: What is your favorite gemstone?
Eugenie Niarchos: I love colored diamonds, opals and moonstones. My dream stone is a greenish-blue diamond — the color is amazing. I also really like purplish-pink diamonds. The shine and color of diamonds is amazing, I like the pastel colors; I find them very mesmerizing. I love opals and moonstones because of all the colors that you see when you move the stone.
AM: How would you describe your personal style?
EN: Elegant with a touch of 1990s quirkiness. I’ll combine a neutral color dress with army boots. I like to combine classic with punk elements, like the jewelry I make.
AM: Who do you most admire?
EN: Cleopatra. She was, and still is, super well-known for her style and elegance. She was a very smart woman. I would love to know what she was like in real life.
AM: What would you do if you were not a designer?
EN: I would be an astronaut, they discover things. Or an archeologist because I like history. I also like to study ancient cultures, so to be an anthropologist would be interesting. Creating and imagining is my forte, but I’m also very good at discovery.
AM: What do you consider good design?
EN: Proportions are extremely important. A piece has to be able to flow with the body as you are wearing it. Also, breaking boundaries and doing something new and out of the ordinary.
AM: What piece of jewelry do you always wear?
EN: I always wear a gold anklet chain, even in cold weather under tights. And I have a pinkie ring with a rose cut diamond that I wear every day. I bought it during my first trip to India.