Lainey Papageorge has been delighting clients for almost 50 years with her creative mix of precious gems and minerals. Her jewelry has been featured on the cover of Lapidary Journal and she is a Spectrum Award winner, an honor given by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) to the best national jewelry designs. She was also invited to judge the “Cutting Edge” competition, a showcase for the most spectacular gemstone carvings and faceted specimens on the North American Continent. Lainey’s Atlanta Gallery, Illumina, was voted “Best of Atlanta” as the best place to buy expensive jewelry, more popular even than Tiffany’s. Her unusual handmade jewelry is one of the most ancient of human traditions, adornment for the attunement of an individual’s signature style.
Ms. Papageorge was born in Atlanta, GA into a large Greek family. She grew up playing among the rocks and streams in an old growth wilderness forest that bordered her childhood home and ignited her artist’s voice. She found expression first as a dancer and choreographer, and then as an apprentice under a master jeweler in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
In the milieu of jewelry making, her life as a professional artist was sealed. She started her own business, “One Pound Sterling” and then moved it to Alaska in 1976. While making jewelry for the cruise ship tourist trade she became well known for creating one of a kind landscape rings, pendants, and bracelets of tiny scenes with pierced gold spruce trees, gold nugget mountains studded with sparkling gems, plus her signature orbit bracelets. She draws inspiration from powerful places and people she meets, and each piece is signed and given a name that honors its origin.
In 1980 she returned to Atlanta to become the first “Artist in Residence” at the Signature Shop in Buckhead. Fabricating at her jeweler’s bench in a public space reserved for commissions to well known patrons like Roberto Goizueta, president of Coca-Cola and First Lady, Rosalynn Carter.
In 1987 she opened Illumina, her own gallery in midtown Atlanta. After its upscale move to Phipps Plaza in 1992, Illumina quickly became the touchstone for jewelry that was finely made by the hands of over 80 goldsmiths selected by Lainey from around the world. In order to pursue her own art and after the birth of her third child in 1994, she moved to the Finger Lakes area of Central New York and closed Illumina in 2000. She maintains a studio in Ithaca, NY and also spends substantial time in Atlanta, GA where she has a studio in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood.
From her studios, Lainey continues to work on special commissions for clients and to develop her signature jewelry that she takes to home shows to sell each Spring and Fall.