To get to know Jean Prounis, look no further than her jewelry line, dreamed up as both a vehicle to tell stories about antiquities and her love for them, and a way to celebrate her heritage. “It's just a nice like melting pot of Greco-Roman antiquities, a bit of grit of New York City and gold,” says Prounis, who chose the name Prounis Jewelry, as a nod to her Greek roots. And with family ties to New York City dating back to the 1910s — her great-grandfather Otto Prounis was the co-proprietor of celebrated 1940s nightclub Versailles — it was important for Prounis to craft everything in locally, prompting her to set up shop in the Jewelry District.
22k Duo Loop-In-Loop Chain With Fibula Clasp
Prounis, who graduated from Skidmore with a degree in metalsmithing then launched her line 18 months later, also sees her pieces as a way to help others tell their own stories and capture a piece of their history too. “I've always been attracted to the power jewelry has as an object, as part of our identity,” says Prounis. Designing her pieces with daily wear in mind, the jeweler gravitates towards recycled 22-karat gold for its brilliance and luster, as well as its softness in comparison to other alloys — “so it does pick up a bit of surface as you’re wearing it… you can connect it to either sentimental times, or it can really embody certain meaning as you view it,” she adds. “I found that storytelling in my pieces that were passed down to me from my grandfather and my grandmother that had a bit of familial heritage in them.”
22k & Green Beryl Block Pendant
In her quest to create classic jewelry that can be worn day in and day out, Prounis turns to museums as a constant font of inspiration — anything from the scalloped foot of a bench in Greece to a detail in a Germanic vase can capture her imagination and find its way into an earring. Granulation, a 5,000-year-old ornamentation technique using individually fused spheres, is a hallmark of the line.
22k Duo Nona Earrings
Responsibly sourced, hand-selected gemstones are also a signature of Prounis Jewery, injecting striking pops of color into buttery-gold backdrops. Everything from lapis lazuli to rainbow moonstone, aquamarine and green and rose tourmaline makes its way into the fold. “We are introducing more sourcing through post-consumer these days. So recently we've been like finding pieces on eBay or working with people in the Jewelry District who have purchased stone businesses that have gone out of business in the fifties,” she explains.
22k & Green Tourmaline Capsa Ring
Prounis Jewelry’s granulated boat-shaped earrings, designed to mimic the silhouette of a hull, are an instant classic, and as Prounis explains, everything is designed to be worn together with ease. “I like to think of the line as you might reference a museum's collection of antiquities. When you go to the Roman wing, there's oftentimes some changes, some new acquisitions,” she says. “But for the most part it's a permanent collection that you continue to add to.”
22k Small Granulated Boat Earrings