Jewelry Designer Elie Top on Creating Innovative Designs

By Sotheby's
Sotheby's online sale of Elie Top's magnificent jewelry designs is open for bidding until 7 May. We caught up with the designer himself to find out more about what goes into his creations.

What inspired you to become a jewelry designer?

It's the encounter of my ability to draw, my passion for architecture and the joy of a child wondering at a sparkling treasure.

Many of your jewels have highly original, intricate designs, tell us more about your decision to create this kind of jewelry?

It's not really a decision... I'm just attracted by different aesthetics which I try to reconcile and it leads me to those designs. I'm working on unifying the opposite: abstract industrial mechanical getting married to decorative, narrative, baroque.

Tell us more about the theme of your collection, which with its planets and astrolabes seems to refer to space exploration and historic navigation instruments.

For those pieces I've definitely been inspired by old armillary spheres, mainly by the Kugel collection I discovered at the beginning of my search. I'm fascinated by the mysterious perfection of the space, humanity endlessly contemplating, studying and exploring. Its secret remains the most outstanding question... those instruments are to me as poetic as they are useful, and leave one dreaming.

How does historic jewelry inform your work, and what place do historic jewels have in modern style?

I've always believed it's necessary to know and love historic jewelry, first for the pleasure, then as a designer to understand where you're taking place. Design is fed both by the past and by looking ahead: considering what's been done and what's relevant today, that's the main question. For me personally, historic jewels are even more important in my life now because I do work with them more and more: to create a new piece of jewelry from a vintage jewel is one of the most exciting exercises I like to practice: a perfect past-present unification, a second life.

You use a mix of precious and semi-precious stones, what drives your choice of gemstone?

I mix almost everything, from sapphires, diamonds to onyx or tigers-eyes. My choice is driven by the design. It's a story singing in my head, a little construction I'm building, where the stones have their part to play as well as the gold or the wood, but they are rarely the starting point .

What advice would you give to contemporary jewelry collectors looking for their next piece?

To chase idiosyncratic design before everything.

How should your jewels be worn, and how should they not be worn?

It's difficult to say, it depends on the owner and her/his style so much... there's no rules, you just have to be coherent with yourself. To me they're casual pieces!

What’s next for Elie Top?

I'm working on a new story: interpretation of the classic precious items to be worn by the woman of today.

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