Konstantina Mahlia is proud of her Greek heritage, so proud, in fact, that it’s the theme of her growing line of jewelry. Agate, tourmaline, and pearls are set into hammered 18k gold—and some silver—creations featuring granulation and regal motifs like laurel leaves and lions. The resulting styles often appeal to discriminating consumers in the market for one-offs.
“I’m trying to create artifacts,” explains Mahlia—who’s based in Tucson, Ariz.—about her three-year-old business. “In museums there are vessels of hammered gold that have lasted thousands of years because they’re so beautifully made.”
At 18, Mahlia took a goldsmithing class with her sister, who loved the hands-on work of finishing pieces. Mahlia, however, was more interested in designing pieces for others to make. Eventually, she took further instruction in jewelry making, including some gemology courses, but these pursuits took a backseat to motherhood for a number of years. When the time was right for Mahlia the artist to resurface, she did so with gusto, reconnecting not only with her jewelry interests—thanks in part to her proximity to the annual American Gem Trade Association’s GemFair Tucson—but also with furniture and clothing design. Today, statement-making home pieces and überfeminine clothes share showroom space with Mahlia’s history-inspired gold jewelry. “I like beautiful things that are a celebration of our humanity,” she says. As if all of these creative outlets weren’t enough, Mahlia has still more: She recently penned an autobiography and is compiling a cookbook.
Mahlia sketches all of her jewelry designs, which are largely fabricated—not cast—in Canada and Latvia. Bead stringing is completed in Tucson, and findings are unique to the Mahlia Collection. “I’m more known for my gold,” she notes.
Recognition so far comes from exhibiting in the Designer Pavilion at the AGTA GemFair Tucson and The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas, where she earned Rising Star status in 2006. At press time, Mahlia was scheduled to debut a proprietary jewelry collection with a primitive daisy motif in sterling silver for TV shopping channel QVC. The symbol suggests rebirth and comes from the mythological story of Persephone, who was abducted by Hades from her mother, Demeter, and taken to the underworld. When Persephone was stolen, the earth became frigid and barren (winter), but when Demeter was reunited with her daughter, flowers bloomed (spring). A single diamond in each piece is meant to represent a loved one of the wearer.
Mahlia shares the television retailer’s opinion that viewers will embrace the line. “[QVC is] giving me an hour-long prime-time launch,” says Mahlia. “They’re not philanthropists, so they think I have jewelry that the audience will respond to.”