By Ashley Davis
Ioanna Souflia’s 14-karat black gold, White Thassos marble and black diamond ring

Las Vegas--Among the materials one expects to see at Couture, marble might not make the list unless one includes the interiors of the Wynn itself. But Ioanna Souflia and Lily Kamper, both first-time Couture exhibitors, employed the material synonymous with sculpture and architecture to elegant effect in their fine jewelry designs.

Marble’s historical role in sculpture might have something to do with these jewelers’ adoption of the rock.

“Jewelry for me is a form of art. You have to find the right medium to express your vision in its full potential,” said Souflia.

Souflia is a Greek-born, Central Saint Martins (London)-educated designer who currently resides in Paris. She officially debuted her collection during London Fashion Week SS15 and came to Couture this year with the Valery Demure showroom.

Souflia works with White Thassos marble, which is quarried on its namesake island in Greece. It’s a stone notable for its relative lack of veins and inclusions.

“White Thassos marble is pure and illuminating and became the perfect companion of black gold,” said Souflia. “Each highlights the other in a symbiotic relationship of modern adornments.”

Souflia’s designs center on this contrast of colors, which transmute a unique, ethereal glow, dissimilar to the black-and-white contrast of shades of enamel, or black and white diamonds. Souflia imparts character to the white marble through carved motifs.

London-based designer Kamper, on the other hand, plays with different types of marble and its respective surface variations, highlighting their different patterns with clean, geometric obelisk-shapes.

Kamper explained, “The beauty of working with marble is that each time it’s cut the piece takes on its own new character with the pattern of the stone.”

Kamper, who noted architect Ricardo Bofill as an inspiration for her work, typically combines her marble obelisks with 18-karat yellow gold cubes that serve to anchor them in pendant form.

“I think it is a bold architectural statement,” she said, “but the combination with gold and diamonds elevates that luxury a little further … the reaction at Couture has been great.”

Kamper is a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art and is stocked by retailers such as Liberty London and Colette. She was awarded a place in Rock Vault in September of last year, which brought her to Couture.

Her interest in alternative materials isn’t limited to marble, she also creates her signature obelisks in hand-dyed acrylic.

Both Kamper and Souflias are interested in how the concept of luxury is defined and in subverting the standard interpretation. Kamper’s pieces retail between $3,200 and $3,600 and Souflia’s from $6,825 to $10,800 for her largest marble cuff. Marble is far less valuable than gold but requires a significant amount of labor to craft.

20160607 marble-couture-6Ioanna Souflia’s 14-karat black gold, White Thassos marble and black diamond cuff
“Marble is a beautiful, natural stone that challenged me as a designer,” said Souflias, “but also the concept of where luxury lies within a piece of fine jewelry, [which should be in] a material that adds to the preciousness of the making process.”

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