God the creator, messenger of the principle of the eternal return in Ancient Egypt*, collected by collectors of curio, used by contemporary artists like Jan Fabre, the scarab has maintained an element of fascination with its plastic and magical character. Here Lito Karakostanoglou offers a resolutely contemporary resurrection: jewellery, the design piece to wear, in a collection of unique pieces presented and edited by the galerie BSL. For the very first time, real preserved scarabs are used in this way and arranged, housed in amazing cage necklaces or zoomorph inspired settings for earrings.
In 2008 Lito Karakostanoglou designed her first pieces, after discovering a whole collection of small scarabs from Madagascar. She then produced her first choker necklaces with the scarab in the centre, like a real pearl. In the New Year she offered it by way of a ‘lucky charm.’ Since opening in May 2010, the galerie BSL in Paris has presented Lito’s work exclusively. She has been asked to conceive an entire collection around the famous scarab whilst at it, this time by pushing back the limits of the technical and aesthetic challenge, centred on larger scarabs of varying colours. Jewellery, like any design piece, must respond to a practicality. How can these precious creatures be protected to make it possible to wear them? Which design but also which techniques, are capable of preserving the scarab’s amazing colours and delicate shape, whilst at the same time keeping its always unique character? A genuine place for the protection and promotion of the animal, the cage is obvious therefore as the most accomplished practical response and categorically the most captivating.
In this piece, definitely the most extravagant in the collection, the partially tarnished 18k yellow gold cage,laid with small white diamonds, houses the rare specimen CHRYSINA AURIGANS (Costa Rica). The design of the cage takes its inspiration from the main lines of the skeleton, as if a diamond scarab was sheltering its real alter ego. The red spinels, known as ‘immortality stones,’ recall the scarab’s ancestral symbolism, awarding it new energy, reflecting its surreal colours.
A mutant, adaptive shape, the cage also plays a role comparable to the frame for ancient paintings – an artwork destined to enshrine the first artwork, a tailor-made space designed for each ‘inhabitant.’ The matt silver cage establishes itself therefore like armour for the large, black scarab SERROGNATHUS ALCIDES (Peru) with a warrior look, and becomes a nest for the two CHRYOPHORA CHYSOCHLORA (Peru) the realistic movement of the legs conjures up the desire for an escape towards their natural environment.
Another technical challenge met by Lito Karakostanoglou: the lightness necessary for each piece. Gold and silver, worked on by hand and by laser, are made as fine as possible for collection objects designed to be worn. A more obvious challenge for the earrings, the18k yellow gold shell, sometimes set with small diamonds, envelopes the scarabs like a gangue or a natural setting.
* Since 3000 BC, what the Egyptians called ‘Khepri’ – a second name for many Pharaohs – is the object of a veritable cult for its magical values of luck and protection. There are numerous amulets, seals, rings and pectorals which represent this sacred animal, an image of the sun which is reborn each day from himself. These ancient talismans were produced in metal, hard or semi-precious stones like jasper, turquoise, quartz and lapis lazuli.
‘Scarabs to wear’ by Lito Karakostanoglou
23 rue Charlot
00 33 1 44 78 94 14