“I get inspired by the timeless beauty of Greece, the contrasts of nature gathered in a small, authentic and sunny country, everything from its ancient civilization and arts to its people of today, who just won’t give up and are becoming increasingly creative,” says Xenia Nefeli Vlahou, aged 32, who studied fashion in Italy but returned to Greece for all these reasons.
A year ago, she started her Marmarometry series, featuring highly original and tasteful geometrically designed necklaces, earrings, and rings. All are made using Greek marble harmoniously balanced with metals and silver for the creation of small works of art.
Asked about the difficulties of making jewelry with marble, Vlahou replied: “It is not a material that can be worked on easily, but the results make the effort worthwhile. The most magical thing is the resulting diversity. Even jewelry carved out of one marble slab ends up looking different. Each piece is unique.”
Her marble-based jewelry creations maintain the natural color of marble. They are sculpted using a water jet cutter, a tool capable of cutting a wide variety of materials using a high-pressure jet of water, as carving by hand is difficult. Finally, the resulting pieces are coated with a special liquid to block all surface pores and protect from soiling.
Vlahou orders her marble supplies from all over the country. Marble mining activity in Greece ranks among the most productive in the world. Large quantities of numerous different colors and qualities, stemming from various marble quarries around Greece, are extracted. Most of the country’s marble mining activity is conducted in northern Greece, in the regions of Drama, Kavala, and Thasos. The marble deposits in these parts of the country are colored a white/semi-white blend and crystalline.
Marble extracted from the island Paros, whose marble was used to create many gems during antiquity, including Aphrodite of Milos and the Nike of Samothrace, is one of the country’s most renowned varieties. It is distinguished for its whiteness and transparent quality. Penteli and Dionysus, both in the northern part of Athens, rank as Greece’s most ancient marble mining locations. These sources produce a white-greyish-blue colored marble. Greece’s brightest colored marbles are extracted from the Argolida area in the Peloponnese.
Returning to Vlahou, she spends most of her time on Paros, which may have influenced her decision to start crafting marble-based jewlery. “I spent all of my childhood summers on Paros. It had been a dream of mine from when I was a young girl to be able to spend as much time as possible on the island, by the sea, at its whitewashed houses, cobblestone paths, and superb beaches,” Vlahou explained. “The place carries a calm, positive energy which you sense when you are there and miss while away,” she added.
Asked to comment on Greek style and the fashion sense of Greek women, Vlahou remarked: “Increasing attention is being paid to style and appearance. Greek designers, who are creating worthwhile things, are also responsible for this. Greek women are well-informed on fashion trends without becoming fashion victims. They know what suits them.”