Ilias Lalonis, especially known for his collections inspired by Greek history, was a pioneer of Greek jewelry and an internationally renowned goldsmith.
Lalonis was the Founder of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM) as well as the Greek Jewelers’ Association. He was born in Athens in 1920, the fourth generation of a family of goldsmiths and watchmakers originating from Delphi.
He was trained in design with Alexandros Alexandrakis, a Greek painter, in draughtsmanship. In addition, Lalonis extensively did research throughout his life on various subjects for inspiration to his designs.
Moreover, he received many awards for his art with the utmost importance being that of the French Academy of Fine Arts in 1990, as the only jeweler ever to be elected as its member.
In 1940, he became CEO of the family firm with jewelry “ZOLOTAS” founded by his uncle in 1895. He also founded the Greek Jewelers’ Association in 1957.
In 1969, he established his firm “Ilias Lalaounis – Greek Gold S.A. and opened branches on several Greek Islands which soon expanded through Europe, the USA, and Asia to number more than 38 Lalaounis galleries.
He outdid his clientele with the sheer diversity of his exquisite handmade jewelry that became increasingly popular from London and New York to as far as Istanbul and Tokyo, while exhibiting his work in over 70 solo exhibitions worldwide.
Between 1969 and 2002 Lalonis presented 50 collections in 18.000 designs, as he was distinguished for reviving ancient Greek goldsmithing and promoting it through his collections worldwide throughout the second half of the 20th century.
Accordingly, over 25 collections were inspired by ancient Greek history from the Pre-historic era to the Byzantine Empire. His deep knowledge of the art and history of early civilizations led to 15 collections based on various cultures in Europe, Asia and America. In this sense, Lalonis proved his inexhaustible ability to create with new ideas spectacular designs based on modern technology, astronomy, nature and medicine.
In 1993, his company’s workshops were moved to new, purpose-built facilities and his factory was transformed into the current establishment to house the first Jewelry Museum in Greece. His creations were exhibited in over 70 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide.
Among them were the “Victoria and Albert Museum”, the “Smithsonian Institute”, the “Philadelphia Museum of Art”, the “Israel Museum in Jerusalem”, the “Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts”, “La Chapelle de la Sorbonne”, the “National Museum of Art of Romania”, the “Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum”. Lalonis died in 2013.
Interestingly, he received numerous awards and honors for his contribution to the arts, such as “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by the French Republic. He also obtained “Doctor of Fine Arts Honoris Causa” by the University “ADELPHI” Long Island, New York.
Contributed by Omnia Ahmed