Eugenie Niarchos’ Fantastic Planet

Published July 15, 2013

Planet Earth, with its flora and fauna, remains a constant inspiration for designers in the upper echelons of the fine jewelry world—the mystical ateliers of Paris’ Place Vendôme and beyond where diamonds, precious gems, and metals are transformed into works of art. Extraterrestrial references aren’t exactly rare either, with Saturn’s rings and the light of the moon inspiring the backstories of innumerable baubles. Twenty-seven-year-old heiress Eugenie Niarchos, however, looked a little further afield when researching her first jewelry line—imagining a sacred planet she calls “Venyx.”

“It is a mix of Venus and onyx. A planet and a stone,” explains Niarchos. “A world with a fantastical natural environment inhabited by beautiful species, the weirdest plants, picturesque mountains, and a magical sky! These are all sources of my inspiration.” The first results of this utopian fantasy is a collection of decidedly reptilian rings that Niarchos unveiled at the Belle Époque bistro Minim’s in Paris during the haute couture shows in early July. With names like ‘Niloticus,’ ‘Mamba,’ and ‘Tortuga,’ the intricate, amphibious ring shapes echo the scales and skins of Nile crocodiles, Amazon snakes, and Madagascan turtles—even the elusive chameleon—all chosen for their respective textures and mythical qualities of protection, rebirth, longevity, and transformation. “I am inspired by antique shapes which I rework and adapt to my vision,” she tells us.

After stints designing for pal Gaia Repossi’s family business and later with Vanessa Seward at Azzaro, an education at the Gemological Institute of America has left no doubt that Niarchos’ eye is well trained when it comes to precious stones. “I discovered the world of diamonds in fine detail and gained the skills of diamond grading,” she remarks. Her first designs are paved with trails of white diamonds, the standout Rainbow Niloticus studded with a Technicolor maze enriched with tsavorites, sapphires, and amethyst. Shying away from large and audacious stones, a striking palette of metals complement the glittering jewels instead with yellow, rose, and white gold—the latter finished with black or green rhodium. The effect is opulent and seductive—an exotic new ideal in a whimsical world.