By Ashley Davis
This ring, dated to the 2nd to 3rd century A.D., is part of the Vanity exhibition opening today at the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos.
This ring, dated to the 2nd to 3rd century A.D., is part of the Vanity exhibition opening today at the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos.

Mykonos, Greece--A new exhibition in Mykonos will examine the illustrious Greek jewelry tradition, relating the ancient craft to its evolution into modern-day design.

“Vanity, Stories of Jewellery in the Cyclades,” presented by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades at the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos, brings together 230 pieces of jewelry dating from the Neolithic era to the 1970s, all originating from the Cycladic islands.

Additionally, 12 pieces of jewelry specially commissioned for the exhibition from contemporary Greek jewelry designers will be on display, from artists Lito, Nikos Koulis, Ileana Makri, Venyx by Eugenie Niarchos, Yannis Sergakis, Elena Syraka, Minas, Deux Hommes, Sophia Kokosalaki, Ioanna Souflia, Two is Company and Sofia Vamiali.

“I wanted to cover all the range of jewelry design, from costume to fine, introducing the most prominent contemporary designers,” said Greek fashion editor Michael Pandos, who curated the exhibition’s contemporary design component.

These chosen jewelers expressed the belief that their design ethos is inextricably linked to the thousands of years of craft that came before them.

“My work is based and continuously draws inspiration from ancient civilizations, so the ‘Vanity’ project was something that is very much what I love to do: translating elements of Ancient Greek culture into a modern statement jewel,” said Elena Syraka.

Ioanna Souflia, for one, was excited to view her work within a historical context.

Of the exhibition’s significance, she said, “‘Vanity’ will take the visitor through Greece’s long history of jewelry making, from the very beginning of the Neolithic era to the present, unraveling the evolution of jewelry, its purpose, its power and meaning as an object, as well as its beauty, which takes a variety of forms throughout the centuries.”

Those varieties include basic carved beads and figurines from common stones and semi-precious ones, bones and glass, to intricate, detailed earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets in gold, silver and bronze.

“The ancient jewelry originates mostly from the permanent collections of the Archaeological Museums of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades in 19 different islands,” said archaeologist Maria Koutsoumpou, one of the exhibition’s curators. “The majority of the items have never before been exhibited or published, making the assemblage more interesting."

Charting the desire for adornment from present day to antiquity inspired the designer of brand Lito, Lito Karakostanoglou, to create a choker from the graphic shapes of her most recent collection for the exhibition.

“Vanity is intrinsically linked to jewelry. The question is, how do you define the fine line between wearing jewelry as a form of self-expression and the negativity of narcissism?” she said. “This exhibition gave me the opportunity to explore my thought on this subject through a single piece of jewelry. The choker that I designed opens a dialogue between the wearer and the viewer. Between the simplicity of the Cycladic form and the boldness of gold, between self-love and wanting to look attractive and being a captive of your own vanity.”

Karakostanoglou’s thoughts are sure to be the first of many discussions spurred by the jewelry on view, both new and old.

“Vanity” opens today and will run through September 2017 in Mykonos, before touring other Cycladic islands.

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