Born in Rio de Janeiro, raised in Monaco by a Lebanese father and Uruguayan mother, jeweller Lily Gabriella Elia has more personal geographical references than most. Her immediate family, collectors of art and jewellery, filled their house with friends who numbered among them artists, architects, fashion designers and jewellers. With this intimate access to such creativity and culture, it sounds like she had an extraordinary upbringing that fuelled her imagination – encouraged by her grandmother, her greatest influence, who freely offered her important jewellery collection for Lily to play with.
After completing a fine arts degree, gaining her gemmologist creds at the GIA in New York, and working in Geneva for Christie’s Jewellery Department, Lily launched her own jewellery line in 2015. Her playful and irreverent designs, with nods at eclectic styles from Art Deco to contemporary architecture, have a futuristic twist and a bold, sculptural, graphic style.
Nature, art and architecture are all great sources of inspiration, Lily says. She chooses the Serpent Ring, from her Collector’s Editions (of one-off pieces) to describe how a particular landscape captured her imagination and shaped the design – and how a reptile became her muse.
‘For the Serpent Ring, I was inspired by the Grand Canyon, which is breathtaking, especially the Antelope Canyon, which really looks otherworldly. Coincidently, the area is also known to be inhabited by snakes. Fortunately, I did not run into any rattlesnakes, nor would I ever want to! But I have always had a fascination with serpents and how they are associated with good fortune, ferocity, and creative drive in many cultures – a snake is often the muse for my jewellery.
‘These two elements drew my attention when I was designing this ring. The Canyon’s curved rock formations, shaped by millions of years of wind and water erosion were reference points for the shape of the ring. I also chose the green aventurine, because its formation looks like the stones that form the Canyon and also as a reference to the nature that grows alongside the famous Horseshoe bend. I also gravitate towards the colour green quite a lot when imagining pieces as I believe it to be a neutral, just as it is omnipresent in nature. For me, the colour never clashes and always complements and enhances the other hues used within a piece, such as the gold and the Madagascan sapphire.’
Lily Gabriella’s Serpent Ring in 18ct yellow gold set with a 4.07ct Madagascan sapphire and hand carved aventurine, £32,000; lilygabriella.com