Reminiscent of ancient civilisations and meant to last thousands of years
For Jean Prounis, there was only ever one color of gold; the buttery yellow that we know from visiting museum exhibitions of ancient times. From Greco-Roman to Pre-Colombian, her vivid creations encompass ideas from civilisations long lost. In an imaginary conversation with her grandfather,
Jean’s jewellery speaks to times of both yesterday and tomorrow, transcending time and honoring the grounding and protective powers of gold. Explored here in a conversation on ethical sourcing practices, the legendary New York supper club Versailles and 22 karat gold.
Jean Prounis: "It’s kind of like tying in multiple aspects of largely Greco-Roman times, but all types of ancient civilisations; also, ancient Nubian jewellery and pre-Colombian. I love to have a widespread dialogue in the pieces."
The first thing, I wanted to know, is what initially made you wish to become a goldsmith?
I guess it was from taking gold smithing classes. I studied jewellery and metal smithing in college and undergrad, and I just fell in love with these classes I would take out of school, which were specialised in ancient techniques. I just loved the meditative processes of chain making and granulation and these repeating forms. I tried to weave in those repeated techniques into how we design the jewellery and it feels much more grounding. It ties it together for me. And I just love 22 karat gold. I fell in love with it after I made my first 22 karat chain. It is the most beautiful material. It’s amazing how it just comes out of the earth, I mean in 24 karat, but we alloy it here; that’s just the process of adding fine silver and copper.
That was definitely on my list of questions; the 22 karat gold. It has this very specific color.
Yeah, it’s a really beautiful yellow. It is warm and buttery. I find it quite neutral. It is also the kind of gold where either you love it or hate it. But we have been converting a lot of people, who typically wore 18 or 14 karat, and then they buy one piece from us and they need more.
But there’s not that many designers who use that specific color, which makes it very unique.
And the way we make it. It has a little more silver than used in a commercial 22 karat. And the reason why we do that is that when we alloy in-house, we are able to use recycled gold. We will buy 24 karat that has been recycled from scrap jewellery, so it is refined. We add the silver and the copper here, and from there we make sheets or wire, which is like the DNA of all jewellery to some extent. And the gold color, I like to reference ancient pieces that have more of a green gold. It is not as yellow as a 24 karat. I like the coloring.