JCK Asks…Nikos Koulis

nikos koulisFrom his home base in Athens, the celebrated designer pours his soul into reinterpreting 1920s jewelry style for the modern woman


If you’re a fan of Art Deco jewelry, you’ve had your eye on Nikos Koulis and his classic-meets-contemporary designs for years. Never mind that now everyone and their uncle are making triangle rings; Koulis’ style makes a strong, and inimitable, statement. “Inspiration is random: A film, a building, scenery, someone’s movement can stimulate me,” says the Greek designer. “The common denominator of my collections is clean forms and fluid geometry.” You’ll also likely notice his innovative use of enamel, passion for the Big Three gemstones, and impressive architectural detail.

Age: 40

Number of years in the biz: 11

Number of employees you oversee: 30

Family and pets: A stray dog, Dinos, who is now the king of the house.

Describe your personal style: I always cherish classic lines and forms. I only select soft fabrics and light textures. I constantly look for intricate belts and scarves.

nikos koulis Oui emerald bracelet
Oui collection tennis bracelet with diamonds, emeralds, and enamel

First piece you ever designed: A bracelet with tapered white diamonds. Bracelets are still my favorite pieces to design!

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: My most recent “pride” creation is a one-of-a-kind necklace with 23 carats of white diamonds set in our patented translucent enamel technique. It was more than six months in the making.

Best piece of advice you ever ­received: To be constantly alert! 

Worst piece of advice: None, really.

First job ever: In my father’s ­workshop studying the craftsmen, making pieces with wire.

flowers in vasesHow did you get started designing jewelry? It was an organic choice, since my family business is in jewelry-making, although I first studied literature before going to GIA.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I would be an architect or a floral designer.

nikos koulis oui ruby earrings
Oui collection earrings with diamonds, rubies, and enamel

Favorite (or current favorite) gemstone: Emeralds eternally, because they are always imperfect, and rubies currently.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: My vintage Rolex and a yellow gold bracelet.

On your desk right now: My loupe, tweezer, design sketches, a handwritten card from a close friend, the candle Nikos Koulis “One” in a ceramic vase with the scent I customized.

On your playlist: NU, Kendrick Lamar, Greek folk songs.  What a mash-up!

Exercise regimen: Running.

What did you have for breakfast? Coffee.

Guilty pleasure: A dessert after dinner, when inspired.

Drink (daytime/evening): Vodka.

First website you check every day (not your own!): I’m only checking my emails.

Scent: A mix of Santa Maria Novella and verbena from an artisan French parfumeur. It has become one with my body. 

athensHow do you unwind? Listening to music and browsing contemporary artists.

A must-visit spot for anyone traveling to Athens: Its center: vibrant, cool, controversial.

Book you’re reading: Kahlil Gibran’s Thoughts and Meditations.

aristotleBook you’ve been meaning to get to: Get back to Plato and Aristotle.

Io Sono lamoreFavorite movie: Io Sono L’Amore (I Am Love), directed by Luca Guadagnino.

Personal motto: “Kindness. Ingenuity. Gratitude.”


Top: Nikos Koulis’ one-of-a-kind necklace with 23 cts. t.w. diamonds set in translucent enamel

(Flowers: knape/e+/Getty; Greece: Lefteris/istock/Getty; Aristotle sculpture: Paul Shark/istock/Getty; Io Sono L’Amore: Magnolia Pictures/Everett)

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