Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum

Published: 07.01.2020
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, exterior view..
Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum, exterior view.

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Ilias Lalaounis, the fourth generation of a family of goldsmiths and watchmakers, was born in the heart of ancient Athens, at the foot of the Acropolis. His forefathers came from Amphissa, near Delphi, the land of the ancient oracle believed by the ancient Greeks to be the center of the known world. He was distinguished for reviving ancient Greek goldsmithing and promoting it through his collections worldwide throughout the second half the 20th century.
The 40’s were not the best of times to promote a jewellery company so Lalaounis set the basis for the future. He studied ancient Greek goldsmithery techniques that were forgotten. He organized Greek jewellers and trained them to enlarge both his own workshop and Greek production on precious metals. He left aside the European and American tradition of precious gems decorating extensively the jewels and created jewels that were precious but more accessible to the markets. Gold 18 and 22 k, sterling silver, semiprecious stones and few precious stones were used on exquisite handmade jewels that travelled and adored from Tokyo to New York, London to Istanbul.

His idea of studying the ancient Greek and Byzantine civilization was very successful in the international clientele especially after 1957 when he participated in the first international exhibition of Thessaloniki. His ingenious idea of reviving ancient Greek jewelry was hugely successful and without doubt changed his life and career. Ancient artefacts sparked off his imagination and inspired his jewelry designs for the woman of today.

Lalaounis’ knowledge and grasp for the art and history of early civilizations led to a number of archaeological collections based on various cultures in Europe, Asia and America.

From 1957 he presented 50 collections, 18.000 designs, in the most prestigious spaces in Paris, New York, Tokyo, in museums and galleries, Embassies that took off the company making Greek jewellery known for its great masterpieces. Every collection presented 300-800 designs, all having a theme inspired by ancient Greek art, World art history, the Natural environment, the new technological advancements of scientists in the 70’s, children’s designs and so many special commissions. He overwhelmed his clientele with the sheer diversity of his jewelry and the richness of the gold for which he became well known. This inexhaustible creativity led to the establishment of a highly recognisable personal idiom, dominated by his distinctive medium, 22K gold, and the belief that every piece of jewelry has a story to tell. Famous women wore and adore his jewels like Farah Dibah Pahlavi, Queen Sofia, Jacky Onassis Kennedy, Barbara Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, and thousands of others. He inaugurates Ilias Lalaounis boutiques in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, Geneva, Lausanne, New York, London, Virgin Islands and over 19 in Greece. He becomes the king Midas of the modern world. His workshop has only the best of master craftsmen and everything in produced in Athens at the Acropolis workshop and later at the new establishment in New Kifissia with a state of the art Goldsmith workshop. The building of the old workshop, his parents home together with his archives, library, rare tools and all their secrets together with 3500 jewels and objets d’ art originals were donated in 1993 to the First jewellery Museum founded in Greece and one of the two of its kind in the world. Under the rock of the Acropolis, and the Theatre of Herodium Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysos, on Karyatidon and Kallisperi streets,  Lalaounis left his legacy to spread, his secrets to become examples for young jewellers and entrepreneurs and his soul to remain a prophesy for Greek culture. In line with the family tradition, Ilias Lalaounis’ four daughters, Katerini, Demetra, Maria and Ioanna direct both the company and the museum.

The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM) opened its doors to the public in 1994.  The museum is a non-profit organization with educational aims and strives to act as an international centre for the continuation of the ancient handcraft of goldsmithery, with the intention to promote aspects of the applied and decorative arts.
A veritable gem of a Museum, housed in a period building of the 1920’s, set on the south side of the Acropolis, introduces to visitors the contemporary wonders of the successful Greek businessman and artist Ilias Lalaounis, the founder of the museum. While discovering the history of ancient Greek art from Prehistory to Byzantium, the Museum’s treasured collections illustrate the immense potential synergy between ancient goldsmithery and international contemporary jewelry design, in the creation of a potent cultural product.

Permanent collections:

I. Ilias Lalaounis. In the Permanent Collections visitors can follow the life work of Ilias Lalaounis. Six sections display a selection of 4.500 pieces from the museum’s collections according to the vast inspirational sources of his work. These original artefacts were manufactured between 1940 – 2002 and displayed in special exhibitions worldwide to promote the artist in America, Europe, and Asia. Jewels and microsculptures cover the vast development of the revival of ancient goldsmithery techniques and new forms that Lalaounis developed for his vast clientele. His works are recognized across borders, as he brought back the fashion for yellow gold jewelry. His contribution was ultimately honoured with the highest recognition as an Academician in the prestigious Academie des Beaux Arts, at the Institute de France in 1990. The Museum also houses the archive of Ilias Lalaounis, with over 60.000 of his designs, rare tools and old machinery used in the workshop premises before the museum was established.
II. New Acquisitions and Donations.
In the permanent collections visitors may also find historic and contemporary jewelry and decorative arts from private donations.

International Studio Jewelry.
The International Studio Collection has recently begun to develop with the advice and contribution of Helen Drutt English. International works are entrusted to allow for the promotion and development of studio jewelry in a Museum which focuses on contemporary jewelry and returns encrypted by thousands of years of traditional forms. Works in the Museum today have been donated by international artists such as Nastassia Aleinikava, Debra Rapaport, Marjorie Schick, Bruno Martinazzi, Doug Bucci, Judy Onofrio, Tony Goesler Snyder, Petra Zimmermann, and by Greek artists such as Sofia Zarari, Tina Karageorgi, Sofia Bahlava, Despoina Pantazopoulou, Vasilis Stamoulis, Vivi Touloumidi.

Jewelry Artist in Residence, JaIR Program.
The first Jewelry Artist In Residence Program to run in a museum worldwide is now open to national and international artists all year round. Artist Residents may choose to work in the Metalsmithing Studio or the Jewelry Crafts Studio both located on the Museum premises. If you are interested, please request for the Brochure and application form.
A priority for enrolment dates is granted to artists who also attend the Hephaistos Summer School. For a combined internship and summer course please reach to Eleni Mastoras, Head Administrator:
In 2017, the ILJM announced the newly established Live Jewelry Resident Studios. The two-live metalsmithing and traditional crafts studio workshops are the first interactive jewelry workshops built within a European museum. The studios invite and promote the work of mid-career artists and focus on promoting contemporary studio jewelry. Visitors may watch and interact on the demonstration of ancient and modern metalsmithing techniques and the use of traditional crafts with the experimentation of new materials in a newly motivated jewelry artists’ hub. For more information on the live workshops ZEM & ZEDET look at the website
Also look for the new Jewelry Summer School, which takes places every June in the ILJM, at the website:
Hephaistos Summer School.
This accredited program focuses on the History of Western Jewelry and runs every June. It is organized through the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum Educational Center in collaboration with esteemed Greek and International academics, archaeologists and jewelry experts. Participants will explore the history of jewelry from classical antiquity until 1940, right in the heart of western civilization.
The program is offered with accreditation by the Hellenic American University’s General Education program and provides 3 US college credits or 6 ECTS credits

Students may alternatively gain credit from their own universities towards their course of studies. Faculty lead programs are also open and additionally a studio component may be added.
Applications are now open for next session which will run from the 14th to the 28th of June 2020. For the detailed program please visit and for more information and inquiries please write to
Museum Internships.
Students and recent graduates interested in art museum careers may join the curatorial or administrative departments at the ILJMuseum and experience on site museum operational practices. Internships for international students are advised to fulfill at least 90 hours or 3 weeks of occupation. Internships run all year round except August. For more information please reach to Byron Vafeiadis:

Opening Hours:
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9.00 – 15.00
Wednesday & Saturday: 9.00 – 21.00
Closed on Sundays, Mondays and on National Holidays.
For special openings please also check our social media platforms.

General Admission: 5 €
With a Valid I.D. Students and Senior Citizens: 4 €
Guided Tours: Booking upon request at

Events      View / hide events

Open call  07 Jan 2020 - 01 Apr 2020  Open Call for Hephaistos Summer School Program.
Exhibition  18 Nov 2019 - 23 Nov 2019  Rings: 1957 - 2019. Legends and Tales from Athens to New York.
Exhibition  22 May 2019 - 26 May 2019  EK-KINESIS: start ups for new artist jewelers.
7 Jewelry Schools display recent student work and their school program in this special Athens Jewelry week. Anticlastics bring on display the jewelry education as part of the AJW in the hospitable spaces of the ILJMuseum.
Museum Opening Hours
Tour  18 May 2019 - 18 May 2019  Open_day: ICOM international day for museums.
The tradition of ancient Greek Goldsmithery in the work of Ilias Lalaounis
Tours and Workshops

9.00 – 21.00
Exhibition  06 May 2019 - 20 May 2019  Hand made dreams: Czech modern jewelry design.
16 Czech Designers exhibit their recent work to promote Jewelry Design in the Czech Republic.  Under the Auspices of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Athens and the Czech Centre of Athens, this traveling exhibition reveals a new aspect of European taste.
Museum Opening Hours

Publications      View / hide publications

Catalogue:  New Teriitories. Greek Studio Jewelry.. Ioanna I. LalaouniIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2016
46 pages with illustrations. Available in English.
Book:  George Hadoulis. Eleni AthanasiouIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2010
95 pages with illustrations. Available in English.
Book:  A tribute to magnificence. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2008
238 pages with illustrations. Available in English and Romanian.
Book:  Frivolous fashion, fabulous faux. A century of costume. Jewelry from the collection of E. Angelopoulou, 1880-1980. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2008
251 pages with illustrations. Available in Greek, English.
Book:  Ethnic Jewellery. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2007
115 pages with illustrations. Available in English.
Catalogue:  Ilias Lalaounis jewelry museum. The value of time.. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2006
This bilingual edition (Greek-English) includes selected objects from the temporary
exhibition “The Value of Time: Pocket Watches from Greek Collections” which took place in
the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (February – October 2006). At the same time this catalogue is a calendar for the year 2006. ISBN 960-88886-03-3
Book:  Challenging the chatelaine!. Marianne Aav, Helen Williams Drutt EnglishDesignmuseo:  Helsink,  2006
199 pages with illustrations. Available in English.
Book:  Maskerade. Galerie RaGalerie Ra:  Amsterdam,  2001
159 pages with illustrations. Available in Dutch, English.
Book:  Artist's Jewellery in Contemporary Europe: A Female Perspective?. Plantzos, DemetresIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  2000
Book:  Ilias Lalaounis: Modern Revival of Ancient Gold.. Anna Beatriz-Chadour-Sampson & Ioanna Lalaounis-TsoukopoulouIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  1998
130 pages with illustrations. (publication in English) ISBN: 960-7417-07-0
Catalogue:  Norwegian Jewellery 1945-1997. Nordenfjeldske Museum of Decorative ArtsNordenfjeldske Museum of Decorative Arts:  Trondheim,  1997
15 pages with illustrations. Available in English.
Catalogue:  Wildflowers of Greece. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  1997
14 pages with illustrations. Available in English.
Book:  Ilias Lalaounis. Art Glyptique: Le bouclier d'achille.. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  1995
Text, photos, captions and bibliography. 23 pages, 23 color illustrations. The seal stones comprise the collection The Shield of Achilles. With an introduction by Pierre Amandry this publication covers the importance of revival of the seal stone technique. (in French)
Book:  Ilias Lalaounis Metamorphoses.. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  1985
This publication covers the most important collections by Ilias Lalaounis from 1957 until 1984 with a description and analysis by the artist. (available in Greek, English and French)
Book:  Ilias Lalaounis Objets d'art.. Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry MuseumIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  1985
84 pages, 92 illustrations. Five of the collections with microsculptures by Ilias Lalaounis are found in this publication. With introductory texts and comments on the objects. (in English)
Book:  Ilion. Ioanna LalaounisIlias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum:  Athens,  1985
Text, photos, captions, and bibliography 76 pages, 44 illustrations. Introduction by Ilias Lalaounis, text by George S. Korres and reproductions of the book Ilios by Heinrich Schliemann accompany the modern creations.
(This is a trilingual edition in Greek, English and French)
Permanent collection of Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum..
Permanent collection of Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum.

© By the author. Read Copyright.
Jewelry Artist in Residence (JaIR) Program. The Traditional Crafts Studio workshop..
Jewelry Artist in Residence (JaIR) Program. The Traditional Crafts Studio workshop.

© By the author. Read Copyright.
Nastassia Aleinikava. Necklace: Les fleurs du Mal, 2010. Copper, German silver.. 22 x 23 x 15 cm. Photo by: Matěj Adamek. Nastassia Aleinikava
Necklace: Les fleurs du Mal, 2010
Copper, German silver.
22 x 23 x 15 cm
Photo by: Matěj Adamek
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Marjorie Schick. Necklace: Spring Green, 1993. Painted papier mâché.. 60 x 58.4 x 15.2 cm. Photo by: Gary Pollmiller. Marjorie Schick
Necklace: Spring Green, 1993
Painted papier mâché.
60 x 58.4 x 15.2 cm
Photo by: Gary Pollmiller
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Ilias Lalaounis. Object: Camel Thorn, 1970. Silver goldplated.. Photo by: Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum. From series: Wildflowers Collection. Ilias Lalaounis
Object: Camel Thorn, 1970
Silver goldplated.
Photo by: Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
From series: Wildflowers Collection
© By the author. Read Copyright.