Since she began her practice in 2010 Melanie Georgacopoulos has cemented herself as a leading figure in the world of pearl jewellery due to her daring and innovative approach. In a natural evolution, the last three years has seen her extend this approach to the pearl’s host mother of pearl, a material so close to the pearl yet so different in the way it can be handled.
The largest piece from her new collection Nacre acts as a metaphor for this gradual transition. Up the side of the radiant Nacre Necklace, glowing South Sea pearls appear to sink into the MOP gradually as if they are dipping slowly into water. This sense of fluidity echoes the form and movement of the neckpiece which comprises of equal sections of MOP joined by silk thread. The necklace features hardly any gold, a deliberate and pointed decision ensuring that the focus remains solely on the nacre.
The rest of the collection consists of sculptural rings and bangles. Each piece features flat segments of nacre, sourced by Melanie to be the largest size possible whilst maintaining a good thickness in each natural colour (golden, lavender, peacock and white). At this size, especially in the white MOP, crevices and lustrous inclusions inside the nacre are really noticeable whilst it remains a flat surface. It is this natural beauty that Melanie wanted to solely shine light on, resulting in seemingly minimalist designs.
Melanie enjoys the notion that one cannot immediately identify how each piece is worn. The jewels are small sculptures in their own right, but each can also be worn effortlessly, some in multiple ways. Unusually the pearls act in a functional way on a number of the pieces, to hold the jewellery in place when worn.
Melanie handpicked rare pink freshwater pearls and top quality South Sea and Tahitian pearls to perfectly match in colour to the nacre of each piece. It is as if the pearls are returned to their natural home close to the shell. In most cases the gold is also matched in colour to the MOP to fully highlight the beauty of the nacre’s surface and the angular structure of the designs. In the forms and shapes of each piece, Melanie deliberately avoided symmetry, a characteristic often found in traditional pearl jewellery, in favour of surprising and intriguing asymmetrical forms. A regular characteristic of Melanie’s work is this pushing of boundaries and existing preconceptions. By exploring new jewellery shapes Melanie questions which elements form a successful jewellery piece, whilst also questioning our belief of what the highlight of each piece should be.
What is clear when looking at these pieces is that the pearl and gold play their supporting roles beautifully, but Nacre is the star of the show.