Mykonos shop owner reflects on Australia, Greece and crystals

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Greek Australian, Apostolos Triantafyllou, 56, has been living in Mykonos for over 30 years now, and running his jewellery store ‘Amethyst’ there since 1996. He describes his first time visiting Mykonos at 14 “like going to the moon – it was so different. It was paradise!”

Initially from Melbourne, Apostolos spent his early years between the ages of 7 and 12, moving from Australia to Greece several times with his parents and brother and sister, who are ten years older than him.

Port Melbourne school

He smiles and somewhat ruefully says, “I thought the houses in Greece would’ve looked like the Parthenon! But Pireaus, where we lived, was far from what I expected.”

Albert Park family, 1971

“Adjusting wasn’t easy. I was kept back a class as my Greek wasn’t good,” he adds.

Albert Park with sister, 1969.

Studying for his exams during the summer holidays “in peace and quiet, away from Athens” was what initially led Apostolos to Mykonos, as his sister and her husband, who was a builder, lived there. 

Albert Park house, 1971

“This was summer of 1981 and I was 14 years old… and I didn’t study one bit! Instead, I swam and had a great time. But I also learned the building trade from my brother-in-law and worked,” Apostolos exclaims.

“On my return to Pireaus, I studied for three days before my exams, and ended up passing. My time on Mykonos rejuvenated me, I guess. I fell in love with the place, and from then on, every Easter, Christmas and summer holidays it was always Mykonos.”

Photo: Victoria Zoina

Upon finishing school and being accepted to study electrical engineering at university, he preferred Mykonos again. First working at his sister’s fashion then jewellery store in Mykonos Town, Apostolos eventually saved enough money to buy his own store there in 1996.

Easter, Mykonos with friends, 1991

With a sigh, and a distant look, Apostolos says: “But now, I have on/off feelings towards the place. Mykonos used to be so nice in the winter too, regardless of the wind and sometimes horizontal rain.  I’ve spent over 30 years of winter there, but in the past ten years, unlike in the old days where cafes, restaurants and bars used to all be open, everything’s closed in Mykonos Town in winter now. It’s only geared towards summer tourism and business.”

Photo: Victoria Zoina

Apostolos continues, “Don’t get me wrong, I love the business, and especially the people contact. But things have changed in the jewellery industry, in favour of foreign imports. Jewellery from India for example looks similar to Greek jewellery due to the ancient Greek influence that Alexander the Great took there. But imports also come from other places too.”

He goes on to quote statistics: “In the 80s and 90s there were 60,000 jewellery producers in Greece, and now there are only 2,000 including importers. This has been mainly due to globalisation.”

He explains that he decided to diversify by adding more gems, stones and also crystals in his store.  I mention that I’ve heard people say that opals bring bad luck, to which he responds, “I love opals, from way back in Australia. The bad luck thing isn’t true. It was propaganda from diamond sellers to disrupt the very popular opal sales at one point which were bringing diamond sales down.”

Asking whether he believes that crystals have healing powers, Apostolos replies by relating an extraordinary event that “shocked” him yet persuaded him of the healing properties of crystals. 

“Years ago, in the full height of August’s tourist season, I had no customers in my shop for days, something which had never happened before. Just before this, I had bought a big, interesting looking quartz crystal which I placed on a stand in the centre of my shop. I called an aunt in Athens to express my woe regarding no customers, and she insisted on doing the ‘xematiasma’ – the casting out of the ‘evil eye’ spell over the phone – something I didn’t believe in at the time either. I then hung up the phone, and suddenly that particular crystal exploded! I have never in my years seen or heard of such a thing!” he explains.

“Five minutes later my aunt called back and said that there had been such a bad case of ‘evil eye’ or ‘evil spirit’ in my shop, that she felt extremely sick and had almost fainted. I immediately got rid of that crystal as it had absorbed negative energy, and customers began flooding in again.” 

Other tales follow regarding healing experiences with crystals, whereby he concludes: “I’m convinced now that crystals have energy fields that influence us in various ways. A good, simple example is the quartz in watches – its vibration and frequency is what makes them work.”

Apostolos says he wants to visit Australia in the near future, “even though I’ve heard that it doesn’t have the same freedom as Greece.”

Quartz crystal. Photo: Victoria Zoina

“Here you can ring a friend to go for a drink on the same day or even the same hour instead of having to organise it at least three days before!” he says.

He then disappointedly declares what he doesn’t like about Greece: “The political, economic and health systems are more corrupt than in Australia, where there is much more accountability.”

Indo Greek Jewellery

With a bitter sweet look and tone of voice he says: “As I get older, I’m becoming more nostalgic, and realise that perhaps I should’ve gone back to Australia sooner.”

It’s never too late, I add.

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