Evil Eye: Ileana Makri Makes Jewelry to Ward Off Evil Spirits

Evil Eye: Ileana Makri Makes Jewelry to Ward Off Evil Spirits

V sits down with Ileana Makri to discuss the greater meaning behind her signature jewelry.

V sits down with Ileana Makri to discuss the greater meaning behind her signature jewelry.

Text: Christina Cacouris

"There are two kinds of people: those who are Greek, and those who wish they were Greek," goes the oft-quoted line of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Regardless of which category you fall under, the Evil Eye symbol is one of Greece's (and generally the Mediterranean's) greatest accessory export, sported by many around the world, whether through conviction or convention. But if you want something a little more glamorous than the simple blue-and-black glass pendants peddled through the streets of Athens, look no further: Ileana Makri's Evil Eyes are anything but quotidian, though they're still simple enough that you can wear them daily. V spoke with Makri to hear more about her inspirations and the symbolism behind her famous Evil Eye jewelry.

Evil Eyes feature heavily in your work; being Greek, tell me about how your cultural heritage affects your work.

Anybody who is Greek is influenced by [the evil eye]; it’s in our culture and in our DNA to carry one. It is simple but protects us. Consciously or unconsciously, sometimes there are negative thoughts or feelings, or energy, and we think that with the evil eye, we are defended from whatever is directed at us. It neutralizes. It sees everything that is evil and protects you. And then there is a spiritual dimension; the eye that sees everything and understands everything and protects you from whatever is not physical. I believe in it, to be honest. I wear it, I give it as a gift.

It feels comforting to have one on you.

It’s good to wear all the time. My whole philosophy about jewelry is pieces that are there all the time, that is nice every day. It’s beautiful to have a 10-carat diamond, but I don’t believe that’s the essence of life. The essence of life is jewelry that makes you feel good every day when you wear it, without waiting for a special occasion to happen. You just wear it because it feels good; a little element that is added but makes things special.

That’s a great ethos to have. You also do a crying eye; it reminded me of a few pieces Salvador Dali made in the ‘20s. Were you inspired by the Surrealists?

In the early 20th century, they tried to unleash the unconscious, and the unconscious eye. I am not following the unconscious eye. The crying eye can be crying from sorrow, or tears of joy. It is very conscious. There is emotion in every day. I cried when I saw my granddaughters born. This is not something that came out of the subconscious; I am happy when I see the sunrise, and my eyes are full of joy then too. What I’m trying to express is happiness and gaiety in every day in all walks of life.

A lovely sentiment. How did you originally discover jewelry to be your calling?

I got into jewelry very early in my life… I think at the age of 2 or 3. I was drawn to jewelry and dreaming about jewelry as a child. I would watch my mother with her jewels and I was totally at peace… I didn’t care about dolls, I cared about playing with her jewelry. Then I started drawing when I was 5 or 6, little designs of rings and earrings. It was just something that uplifted my own feelings and made me happy.

Credits: ALL PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF ILEANA MAKRI

UP NEXT

This Week in Instagrams with Grace Elizabeth, Carolyn Murphy and More