Sitting on a small balcony that hangs over the sea at the Poniros boutique jewelry store in Fira, designer Yiorgos Poniros is using paper and pencil to draw a flower that will then be turned into a medallion.
Poniros was only 12 years old when he drew his first piece of jewelry – it was an abstract shape inspired by the Greek meander. Having studied gemology in the United States and jewelry design in Italy, he represents, together with his brother Fotis, the third generation of jewelry-makers to continue the tradition of a Greek family brand whose history began in Constantinople in 1945.
Drawing inspiration from nature, Poniros explains that Santorini provides a strong incentive for creation. Motifs and symbols like the vineyard are turned into objets d’art of yellow, white or pink gold, white and black diamonds, precious stones and stones with special colors, like kunzites, morganites and tourmalines.
Each piece of work is unique because it is made entirely by hand. The detail of the fresco in the room of the Blue Monkeys in the Minoan Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, the island’s distinctive church domes, the colors of the sunset, or the pebbles that pave the Gold Street in Fira were the inspiration behind many a dazzling and timeless piece of jewelry. “I don’t follow fashion or trends. I design that which expresses who we are as a family, with the natural surroundings and history as my sources,” says Poniros.
For the past five years, Yiorgos Poniros has also been designing the meticulously handcrafted Vatican Cardinal Ring, a gift which is bestowed annually by the Vatican upon the cardinal who has performed the most significant humanitarian work.
The Poniros company has 40 employees, five jewelry stores and 29 selling points in Greece; it also exports to other European countries, the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore. It remains, however, a closely-knit family unit that supports domestic jewelry production while maintaining a strong and successful business profile.
For more information, visit the Poniros website.