elina lans


Certain people, brands, or other life cases have emerged OUT OF THE BLUE. When taking a closer look, there’s a long journey that lets them walk the path leading to where they are now. Today: the story of ELINA LANS, founder of ELÍNALANS JEWELRY. Cover image: courtesy of ELÍNALANS JEWELRY

When Elina Lans was sixteen, she convinced her parents she needed to study Japanese. Her persuasiveness is impressive since, not much later, she moved to Japan. Working part-time in a bar and doing modeling jobs while learning Japanese in Osaka, she hoped to get into the culinary world of Tokyo one day. She failed to become a cook and did a master’s in international law instead. “It was an inspiring period in my life. I met many artists, filmmakers, designers, and musicians. They had a significant influence on me. Living in Japan felt like living in a movie – it was very Murakami-esque and had a similar vibe to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. 

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While one might assume the contrary, being a lawyer influences her creative career in many ways. “The law firms I worked at had many jewelry and fashion production clients. Representing those clients, I gained knowledge and experience in the industry before going out on my own. I had this hunger to create change, to bring awareness on the environmental and social impact.” Winning in courts took a lot of creative imagination, too, she remembers. Thanks to her legal background, Elina can be critical about her supply chain, whether in terms of environmental friendliness or the fair treatment of the people she works with. 

Has your dream always been to start your jewelry brand?

Growing up, I loved playing the piano, drawing, poetry, animals, and magazines. I daydreamed, including acting, creating costumes, dancing, and having my magazine. I spent much of my childhood with my great-grandmothers – Rahel and Vera – they were extraordinary women. I later understood the significant role they played in my life.”

What brought you to the industry?

“In 2017, I worked at a law firm in Amsterdam, where I was hired as a highly-skilled expat. Life took a turn, however, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26. I knew I wanted to change my life drastically and pursue something I had craved for a long time. While battling cancer, I took courses at London’s Central Saint Martins in fashion design and manufacturing, brand management, and others. In the meantime, my great-grandmother Rahel died at the age of 104 – as a breast cancer and holocaust survivor, and my family passed on her old jewelry tools to me. She was a jeweler-watchmaker in Kyiv, trained by her father, who also was a jeweler-watchmaker.”

“Because of those tools, I got into a local jewelry studio to learn jewelry making in the evenings while working at a law firm during the daytime. I did the chemotherapies on the side. This period felt like an awakening; I noticed an immediate connection. All I wanted was to work with precious metals and find ways to make them as mindful and sustainable as possible. I aimed to have a small-scale, locally handcrafted, responsibly sourced practice, nothing mass-produced. It led to the start of tén-seventy-two jewelry, which I have renamed into namesake ELÍNALANS as a gesture of coming back to myself.”

What was it like to start elínalans

“It was scary to leave my corporate job and start something independently, but the company didn’t allow me to have a side hustle. Fighting cancer gives quite a perspective – having no time to waste is a great motivator. And so, I left law and started my jewelry atelier.”

What do you love most about working for Elínalans?

“That jewelry is the slowest fashion of all if practiced mindfully. It comes from the earth but never goes back in. We never burn anything at the landfill; no big chunks of jewelry are floating in the Pacific Ocean. I hope my pieces will bring joy and conversation to those who wear them. Jewelry can survive generations and become heirlooms.”

Sharing a personal story and creating out of passion can be frightening. Were you afraid of failing at the start?

“Yes, absolutely – I have imposter syndrome. It surely takes time to be taken seriously, and that adds up. Being in the picture is essential for me. After all, it’s just me in the studio. People must understand that my jewelry is handcrafted in small batches. There’s no mass production in sweatshops overseas.”

Have you always thought of yourself as a jewelry designer? 

“Not really; I’m still shy about introducing myself as a jeweler. It’s rather vulnerable.”

How would you describe your aesthetic? 

“Modernist and intuitive, but I keep refining my vision. Quality over quantity, androgynous, effortless, and elegant.”

Who or what inspires you most? 

“Art is part of my life on every level – it’s essential in my work; it’s my passion. I met my husband at an exhibition opening. My work is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, Bettina Grossman, Jean Arp, Isamu Noguchi, Louise Bourgeois, Barbara Hepworth, and Tadao Ando. Regarding fashion, Jil Sander, Yohji Yamamoto, and Lemaire are great sources of inspiration. Furthermore, I admire jewelers Daniel Brush, Yasuki Hiramatsu, and Elsa Peretti. Unfortunately, I have no pictures or archives of my great-grandmother’s or her father’s works. I’d love to see those!”

How do you generate ideas and bring them to life?

“Researching in galleries, museums, and libraries, and digging through vintage jewelry auctions and archival fashion shows with my Elsa Peretti pen and a notebook to write down my ideas. I take courses at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Central Saint Martins, or Van Cleef and Arpels in Paris several times a year. I then return to my jeweler’s bench and let the metals and gemstones decide what they want to become. I rarely sketch it in advance unless I sketch a project for clients. I upcycle and remodel a lot of old and heirloom jewelry for my clients; it’s a huge part of my process. It shows the regenerative quality of precious metals and gems: they can be reused repeatedly without losing their value. I most often don’t make similar pieces, just one-of-a-kind items. Sometimes, I hand-carve in wax and bring it to a local family-owned foundry for lost wax processing. I never have 3D-printed anything and don’t feel it would suit me.”

How do you incorporate the brand’s values – collaboration, compassion, and mindful living – into your daily work?

“Motivation is most important for me. There is a ton of love in how this jewelry is made. Mindfully choosing independent jewelry is not just a physical thing. It is also about what you project as a human being for others to read in you.”

“One of the best parts of this work is that I work with amazing people on elínalans. In 2022, I made an open call for creatives among war refugees and worked with great photographers, models, and graphic designers in Berlin, Paris, Kyiv, and Amsterdam. In 2023, for our pop-up store at Jardin du Palais Royal in Paris, I partnered up with wonderful young artist Clément Justin Hannin. He created limited edition prints as a nod to the Parisian art scene. Thanks to my studio, I meet wonderful people from whom I learn a lot.”

Are there any rules or rituals you live by?

“I can’t work if I don’t have an emotional surplus. I try to give myself a little treat daily; I spend a little time in nature, have a hot yoga session, bathe, or read a book with my coffee. I take walks with my dog Vasiliy Kandinsky, not to force the creative process, but to let the inspiration come to me.”

What insight or advice has been determinative for where you stand right now? 

“I trust my guts and don’t do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t finish a book if I don’t vibe with it—no regrets. Self-care is my love language; I am constantly reminded to prioritize my physical and mental health. Cancer treatment gives me many restrictions but also dictates that I form boundaries and only do things that bring me joy.”

Elina Lans

Is there anything you would like to say to your younger self? What excites you most about the future? 

“I would advise my younger self to be surrounded only by people you love and those who love you and make you feel safe. In the future, I hope to meet more inspiring people, design jewelry and small objects, have a shop, consult brands, and trust the process.”

Elina Lans is a Soviet-born Dutch; she holds a master’s degree in international law and studied fashion design and jewelry business in central Saint Martins, London, and jewelry crafts in Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris.