MiLiO: Art of designing with precious stones

Ludmila and Olga Mironov – the mother and daughter duo behind the MiLiO brand - are artists in the true sense of the word.

Ludmila and Olga Mironov, founders of MiLio

Each of their pieces is one of a kind, their work is never trend or commerce driven, or indeed by anything except their creative impulse and strong artistic vision, married to a scrupulous approach to craftsmanship. Both are history of art aficionados, art is what brought them to jewellery design and art is what they never cease to draw inspiration from. Their creations are gemstone focused and highly noticeable for bold combination of colours, textures and unusual gemstone cuts.

Katerina Perez: Why do you choose to focus on coloured gemstones?

Ludmila & Olga Mironov: We love colour! And coloured gems are incredible. They are merely inorganic chemical compounds and yet they are very much alive. They come from the bowels of the earth and open up, unfold, blossom under the tool of a skilful lapidary. When you hold a gemstone in your hand you feel it breathing, pulsating with life. It triggers a powerful surge of inspiration and that’s where the magic happens – the unique character of the stone resonates with the original idea for the design and the perfect fit, perfect union is found. That’s why each of our pieces is one of a kind. It simply can not be copied.

KP: How do you choose gemstones? What do you value most?

L&O: Unusual shapes and cuts, the intensity of colour, the clarity. 

KP: Which other materials do you work with?

L&O: We use diamonds, but only to complement the coloured gemstones, which remain the focus of each piece. In some of our pieces we also used precious hardwoods.

KP: Which periods in the history of art had most influence on your work?

L&O: To speak about direct influence - our collections were mostly informed by the art of the beginning of the 20th century - Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Russian avant garde – we are particularly drawn to the aesthetics and the visual language of those periods. But in terms of what inspires us generally – honestly, it is difficult to single something out. The legacy is so enormous, so diverse! And everything in art is interconnected, things feed and influence one another, it’s like a polyphony of influences if you wish. Besides, we don’t necessarily like the same things and our preferences sometimes change over time, we constantly find something new to like and admire and draw inspiration from. And we like to combine elements from different historical periods.

MiLiO bracelet with 34.4cts chalcedony, sapphires and diamonds

KP: What, beyond art, inspires you most?

L&O: We are greatly inspired by travel. Travel feeds your mind, develops your eye, enhances your creativity. New experiences, new impressions always trigger ideas for our work. But again, wherever we go we inevitably end up spending hours, sometimes days – literally days - in museums and galleries. As inspiration goes, art still beats everything else hands down. Recently we visited Armenia and guess what? We didn’t leave Martiros Saryan museum for two whole days. Armenia seen through his eyes was even more vibrant. We adore his palette, the intensity, the energy, the brightness of colours! They are dazzling, as gemstones. We are banging on about art again! It’s unavoidable. 

KP: Please finish the sentence: “Most enjoyable part of the whole process of creating a piece is…

L&O: Laying out the gemstones as we work on the arrangement! Definitely that. We love handling stones – it is immensely satisfying.

KP: Describe your perfect environment for dreaming up your designs.

L.M: It would be completely different for each of us. I come up with new ideas when I’m driving. I love being behind the wheel, it gives me a sense of freedom and joy. That’s when I usually have the most interesting, original ideas.

O.M: I need peace and quiet. Sometimes I sit alone at my desk, deep in thought, absent-mindedly doodling on a scrap of paper and only later realise that I’ve sketched a new design!

KP: Would it be correct to say that MiLiO is free from commercial – or any other – restraints?

L&O: It is absolutely true. We do exactly what we want, when we want, the way we want. We are not bound by any obligations, commitments and deadlines. That’s the beauty of working for ourselves. 

MiLiO 'Star' ring with a garnet and diamonds with black enamel over yellow gold

KP: Name three events that proved to be most significant for MiLiO...

L&O: Getting first prize in Carl Faberge International Jewellery Competition in nomination Design and Concept, our international debut in Design Vivarium at GemGeneve, and the incredibly inspiring, Gravierte Kostbarkeiten (Carved Treasures) exhibition in Idar-Oberstein in 2012, which left us charged with desire to create.

KP: Which of your pieces you are most proud of?

L&O: Well, it would probably be the ‘Two celestial bodies’ sapphire brooch, which symbolises the cosmic unity of masculine and feminine. It is a technological achievement as it is incredibly light for its size and composition. We are also rather proud of the ‘Eternal Beauty’ pendant, where we successfully managed to bring together seemingly incompatible elements of our beloved Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Of course, our last cherished creation – ‘Supremus’, the ring with truly incredible architectonics, a stunning piece that never fails to thrill. Even seasoned connoisseurs confess it takes their breath away.

KP: Now that you mentioned Supremus, tell us about other pieces from the ‘Avant Garde’ series. Are you going to show them at Jeweluxe Singapore in October?

L&O: Malevich’s influence on the art of the 20th century simply can’t be overestimated. It is inescapable. You simply can not stay unaffected by this colossus of an artist. We were profoundly moved by his ‘Suprematist composition’ of 1916, and tried to find a rhyme to his vision and ideas in three-dimensional form – that’s how our ‘Supremus’ was born, and with it the idea of a whole collection dedicated to Russian avant garde. We’ll be building the collection slowly, piece by piece, that’s how we always work. We are going to show the second ‘Malevich’ ring next month at Jeweluxe while another one - based on compositions of Kandinsky - is currently in the making.

MiLiO earrings in 18K gold with amethysts, emeralds, rubies and diamonds

KP: What do you consider most rewarding part of what you do?

L&O: Somebody somewhere said that a piece of jewellery could only be considered complete when it finds its wearer. It is true. Jewels look wonderful in a glass cabinet, but they only fully come to life when worn. They are not merely pretty little things, fancy accessories. They are pieces of art in their own right, pieces of art that you can carry with you, that you can wear. We believe they have the power to shape our perception of life, encouraging us to have a more positive outlook. From time to time we get a touching feedback from our clients, telling us how much they enjoy wearing our pieces, how it brings joy to their hearts. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear. 

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