BACK IN TIMEA Conversation with Jean Prounis

We are excited to host a small collection of Prounis jewelry through the month of December as part of our Bode trunk show. To mark the occasion, we caught up with Jean in her New York City studio and talked about her love of 22 karat gold and her sources of inspiration.

Where did you study goldsmithing and when did it become apparent that you wanted to design jewelry?I studied jewelry and metalsmithing at college in Upstate New York but I always had a love for design ever since I was young. Growing up I loved antiquing for old books on design and looking through my grandfather’s library on ancient Greek art.

Why do you choose to work with 22K gold exclusively as opposed to other qualities or metals?22 karat is one of the most historical karats of gold, and since history is such a large part of my design process, I love working with the same materials as ancient civilizations. 22 karat has such an eternal buttery lustre. The yellow colour will never oxidize or tarnish with wear, it will only get more beautiful as the pieces age.

You cite classical antiquity as a major point of reference for the way you design, what is appealing to you about ancient periods versus modern ideas of fine jewelry?I love how so much of classical antiquities have specific purposes and intentions. I find each meaning to be very inspiring when creating jewelry for the purpose of carrying memories. Each ancient object has a story to tell.

I am always amazed by how many different types of Ancient Greek vases there were and how they all have different purposes. Each shape is so elegant and meaningful whether it be an amphora, a hydra, a bell vase, etc.

Do you design only in reference to the past or are there things in contemporary times that inform your processA majority of my designs are references to the past but I do find myself inspired by modern architecture as a point of contrast.

Can you share an example of what the design impetus was for one of your pieces?One of my first earring designs was the Duo Nona earring, which is comprised of a diamond shaped duet of nine granules. I wanted to play with traditional granulation patterns by isolating the typically repeated geometric pattern while enlarging the size of the usually miniature granules.

Do you have a favourite ancient jewelry-making technique? Are there styles from an era or culture you still wish to adopt?I really admire granulation which is the process of decorating a surface with many small gold spheres. I’d love to learn more large scale repoussé, another ancient technique used to sculpt metal.

What brought Prounis and Bode together, and did you have to alter your design process during your collaboration to make jewelry specifically for menI met Emily through mutual friends! Lauren Rodriquez from LOROD introduced us at a dinner! Now the three of us are having our second annual holiday pop-up this December!

I think since Bode and my collection reference so much cultural history and nostalgia there was no need to alter the designs. I was surprised by how unisex the jewelry is. Many of the jewels can be quite simple in form so its a matter of a stone fitting your general color palette.