It’s the time of year that those stuck behind desks scroll jealously through Instagram feeds at the sun-drenched, bikini-clad jet set enjoying a seemingly endless summer of sundowners and private yachts. And this year one destination is popping up more than any other among a certain sub-set of the fine jewellery world: Mykonos. The Aegean island, long renowned as a glamorous party destination – Greece’s answer to Ibiza – is a playground for the young, fashionable and super-rich. Especially, it seems, those with an eye for contemporary jewellery, and a roster of brands are opening boutiques or pop-ups to cater for them.
“Mykonos attracts globetrotters, who have seen and bought things from all around the world. It has such a diverse crowd: party-goers, spiritual, hip, classic, young, old...they all fall for the island’s energy and light,” says Greek jewellery designer Nikos Koulis. “It has so many different places and characters, but one thing applies to all: Mykonos cultivates desire. People are in the mood to buy something that will make them feel beautiful.” Koulis capitalised on this desire by opening a boutique on the island in 2014.
The petite, whitewashed boutique – a blend of Cycladic architecture with art deco touches – in Mykonos Town is home to his modern, geometric designs, from the jagged spikes of his Spectrum range to the art deco motifs of Yesterday. All are characterised by his use of unusual coloured stones such as rubellite and apatite, along with black and grey enamel for a cool, minimalistic take on traditional fine jewels. This year the sell-out piece has been his Oui lariat, which won the Haute Couture category at this year’s Couture Design Awards in Las Vegas. A sequence of enamel-framed colourful gems strung onto black cord, leaving diamond spikes trailing down the spine, it’s the perfect accessory for a holiday wardrobe of backless dresses and bikinis.
A stone’s throw away in the School of Fine Arts District is the Belvedere Hotel, whose boutique stocks ultra-fashionable fine jewellery from the likes of Diane Kordas, Noor Fares and Venyx alongside Orlebar Brown swimwear and Muzungu Sisters beach bags. “The Mykonos atmosphere is relaxed while being luxurious, which is essentially the ethos of my jewellery – elegant without being ostentatious,” says Kordas, who began selling her delicate, diamond-pavé jewellery on the island in 2015 after having holidayed there with her Greek husband for more than 20 years.
“We have seen a demand for easy, beautiful luxe pieces,” Kordas says, adding that her diamond chokers, star earrings and oversized hoops have been popular this year among a crowd who like to mix and match these fine pieces with non-precious beaded holiday jewellery.
This year Eugenie Niarchos’s futuristic fine jewellery brand Venyx also opened a standalone boutique within the Belvedere Hotel; and what could be a better match for the holiday destination than her “mermaid-inspired” Oseanyx range of shells, seahorses and fish-inspired designs? Bedecked with colourful gemstones and sometimes streaked with glow-in-the-dark enamel, they are a nod to the 30-year-old designer’s own summers spent clubbing on the island.
Venyx’s presence on the island is publicised via Niarchos’s Instagram feed to her 32,000 and counting followers, for many of whom Mykonos is a staple stop-off on their summer tour, on a par with Ibiza and St Tropez. Other designers taking advantage of this influx of young jet-setters, rich in disposable cash and hungry for the latest ‘it’ accessory, are London-based jewellers Sarah Noor and Benedetta Dubini.
“The vibe in Mykonos is carefree: people want to be in the moment and have fun,” says Noor, who this year launched a pop-up at the Luisaworld multi-brand boutique at the fashionable Nammos beach restaurant on Psarou beach. There, her baguette diamond earrings sit alongside Richard Mille watches and fashion from the likes of Céline and Valentino. She has also created a capsule range featuring vibrant sapphire, turquoise and opal to cater to the holiday crowd.
“The Mykonos crowd will spend the day at the beach then go out in the evening until the sun comes up and I think my jewellery chimes with this rhythm: it’s light and delicate for the daytime, but you can layer it for more of a statement look at night,” she says.
Italian-in-London Benedetta Dubini has a more cerebral reason for her pop-up at Mykonos Town jewellery store Kessaris. Long fascinated by Greek and Roman mythology, the designer creates one-of-a-kind jewels using ancient coins alongside precious stones and metals. “It seemed fitting to bring my pieces to Greece,” she says. “Mykonos is one of the most elegant islands and it attracts people who are looking to shop for unique treasures. Each of the coins I select has its own myth or legend, which certainly makes them rare.”
Photos: Nikos Koulis; Diane Kordas; Eugenie Niarchos; Sarah Noor; Benedetta Dubini