Christmas can’t come soon enough with gifts like these.
“She thought they were for sure going to kill her.”
After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Meet the Brisbane jeweller who’s killing it overseas: Brisbane’s Margot McKinney, whose rapid US success has seen her jewels adorn the likes of A-list stars such as Dita Von Teese.
Fine jewellery design is in Margot McKinney’s blood as a fourth-generation fine jeweller proud to carry on the family’s 131-year-old business. But the grand dame of Australian jewellery is the first to expand her family legacy into a global success story as the only Australian jeweller stocked at US luxury department store, Neiman Marcus.
Her other accolades include being awarded the Prix De Marie Claire award in 2011 for Australia’s Best Fine Jeweller and the Haute Joallerie Award in 2009 for International Opal Design. What’s more, Margot’s recently cemented her international success when American fashion icon, burlesque star Dita Von Teese (pictured) and American actress, comedian and The New York Times best-selling author Heather McDonald both wore her exquisite jewels at red-carpet events. In addition, English model and actress Elizabeth Hurley was recently pictured wearing her jewellery on the cover of Genlux Magazine.
And while Margot, 55, (pictured) was too busy with US commitments to dress local stars at this year’s Logie Awards, at last year’s ceremony her exquisite pieces adorned the likes of American/Canadian singer Paula Abdul and Aussie celebrities such as actresses Rebecca Gibney, Anna Bamford and Anna McGahan.
Of course, you don’t have to be a celebrity to both love and wear Margot’s jewels, she has loyal clients in both Australia and internationally. “American women are marvellously stylish and will coordinate precious jewellery and fine apparel with great aplomb,” Margot says. “They are very loyal to a designer they follow and I have extraordinary clients who wait for my collections each year.
“It is marvelous to have interest in my jewels from well-known personalities although I do value each one of my loyal clients, both here in Australia and internationally.
“I collaborate with many wonderful celebrity stylists, who are able to match my pieces to special red-carpet gowns. I was extremely pleased to jewel Dita Von Teese at a US event recently, as she has great style and is truly a unique fashion icon.”
What sets Margot apart as a jeweller – and certainly a reason Neiman Marcus cut its usual six month vetting process for new vendors to 40 minutes for her designs – is the fact that each piece in the Margot McKinney collection is completely unique and some take up to a year to handcraft.
And since her first day with the heritage department store, Margot’s business “has grown hundreds of percent,” the jeweller says. “When I first signed with Neiman Marcus, I planned to make ten of each piece, but that is not me and it’s not the way that I like to work. Even though ten of each piece isn’t mass market, it is too mass market for my liking. My passion is for precious, one-of-a-kind, unique pieces of jewellery.”
Many of McKinney’s pieces contain a touch of home: pearls, opals, sapphires and pink diamonds from Australia. “My collections are inspired by the extraordinary gems I travel the world to source; every gem so special you could never find another the same. So, everything by definition is unique. My clients understand and appreciate this, and that is where I’ve found my niche,” she says.
“The most wonderful thing happens when somebody falls in love with a piece of my jewellery and then they wear and it becomes a family treasure.
“I have worked on pieces where the pearls have been sourced from Western Australia, the gold work might be from Germany and the setting may be done in Italy. So my pieces really are ‘worldly’ in this respect and it is always challenging and rewarding bringing the materials together.”
And if you want to get your hands on Margot’s jewels locally, they’re available at her family’s business, McKinney’s Jewellers at Emporium Brisbane, a luxury retail and dining precinct in Fortitude Valley, and by private appointment internationally.
The McKinney’s are very well-known in the jewellery trade, having once owned Hardy Brothers; their first jewellery store in Toowoomba dates back as far back as the 1800s. “My great-grandfather opened the business in the 1884, establishing a barber shop and tobacconist.” she says.
“The business evolved into Toowoomba’s premier department store, stocking everything from sporting goods, toys, guns, boats, furniture, electrical goods, china, crystal, silverware and jewellery and then evolved into to the high-end jeweller it is today.”
And Margot’s father John, 84, still runs the family business, which last year celebrated 130 years of success. “I am most fortunate to be one of the fourth-generation in our 131-year-old family business and I cherish this heritage and look forward to hopefully welcoming a fifth-generation into the McKinney family business,” she says.
“Being fourth-generation in our family business means that I am able to work with gem merchants and craftsmen with whom we have very long-standing relationships. My suppliers and clients are my friends and this makes for such a rewarding life. I wake up every morning eager to meet the challenge of the day and to create something that will bring joy to somebody else’s day!
“I love love, love, love what I do! How lucky am I? I love the travel; I love the wonder of creating rare pieces of jewellery and I particularly love seeing my extraordinary clients all over the world enjoying my creations. I am most fortunate to have always had a very supportive family and a wonderful husband who is so encouraging.”
We layer our clothes, makeup and skincare, so it was only a matter of time before jewellery followed suit. Following in the footsteps of Leandra Medine who herself coined the term “arm party,” we’re showing you just a few ways to layer up those accessories.
If choosing between gold, silver and anything in between proves too difficult, you could always mix your metals. Not only will this give you a unique look, but it’s really effortless to create.
Incorporate your watch to the arm party since it gives a classic feel to your accessories. Just remember, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on a good-looking watch!
Friendship bracelets are a great way to bring a personalised touch to any type of arm candy. You can make your own with thread, beads and any additional accessories and can even gift matching ones to your best pals.
Experiment with rings and hand-chains to bring a modern take to your look. Not only are these pieces easy to wear, but they are classic and will last the distance. If you’re into silver, invest in a few custom pieces which will grow with your look.
A pop of colour is another essential part of layering your look since metals can sometimes feel too heavy and industrial. A fun beaded bracelet or bangle is the perfect way to start wearing this look.
Images via Glitter Inc, Man Repeller, Tumblr, Tommy Ton,
To celebrate 12 months of SHESAID’s Inspirational Women series, this April we will be featuring some of our favourite from the past year. These women are leaders in their chosen field and have shared with us and our readers their expertise, knowledge and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role:
Lisa Messenger, founder and editor-in-chief of Renegade Collective and CEO of The Messenger Group
Tell us about your role. What do you do on a day-today basis?
I wouldn’t even know where to begin on what my day entails on a day-to-day basis. I literally wear so many hats but, don’t be fooled, I love every minute of it! One day can range from being on deadline and running around like a mad woman between my editorial, design, marketing, advertising and digital teams, proofreading, changing copy, choosing our cover star shot, Skype meeting here, internal meeting there. I am constantly pulled in so many directions so I always make sure I find a balance between my work life and wellbeing.
How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?
I knew early on that I would never work for anyone but myself. I have had endless dreams and made them a reality, failed and got back up again. I am all about the ‘Call to Action’ – you want something, you go for it. No matter the risk, you have to live in the moment otherwise you lose all purpose. I wanted to surround myself with positive, inspirational people and not to let the naysayers sway my choices. Starting the Collective gave me just that – an opportunity to constantly be reminded about how great people can be when they go out into the world and fight for what they want.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Being an entrepreneur you are constantly inspired by the world around you – daily life choices have such an impact and I am in an industry where nothing is short of inspiration. Our readers, I would have to say, are the people who I constantly find so inspiring and uplifting. If I am having a bad day there is always a reader who switches my mood and puts it all into perspective. I am doing this for a reason and I owe it to myself to keep going. Inspiration stems from positivity.
Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?
There are a lot of people I look up to and for many different reasons. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and Martha Stewart (which was a dream come true of mine having her grace the cover of our one year anniversary issue) just to name a few. But I also think it’s also extremely important to believe in you. At the end of the day, you have to be your biggest supporter and surround yourself by those around you who truly believe you can do anything.
What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?
From the moment I knew I wanted to make a change there were of course many things standing in my way. I am BIG believer in ‘fall down seven times; stand up eight’. You get knocked down and you need to get right back up again. At the end of the day, your failures do not define you, they simply shape you to be the best version of yourself and that really is all that you can give.
How did you overcome these?
From the start, I made a promise to myself not let my failures define me. I knew that I needed to have thick skin from the get go and if I am ever faced with a problem I need to tackle it face on and not coward because something is too difficult. Challenges are what make us into the people we are today.
What are your goals for the future?
To continue to grow in every aspect! From my career to my personal life, I want to make sure I have a happy balance. To watch the Collective continue to grow would be a dream, cover after cover I constantly fall in love with this journey more and more. It’s such a blessing! I have an amazing team and support system behind me so I count how lucky I am every single day.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
Be bold and believe in yourself. If you fail, do not let it define you. You can do anything you set your mind to so make mistakes, learn from them and keep moving forward. The sky is the limit!
To celebrate 12 months of SHESAID’s Inspirational Women series, this April we will be featuring some of our favourite ladies from the past year. These women are leaders in their chosen field and have shared with us and our readers their expertise, knowledge and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role:
Sharona Harris and Rachel Ford, founders of jewellery label Ford + Harris
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
SH: I am the sales and marketing manager for Ford + Harris, so I look after all the PR, branding, website, social media and retailer liaison, however as a start-up brand you need to roll your sleeves up and also do whatever it takes to get the job done so packing orders, managing customer relations and being the main contact for our factory is also a major part of my job!
On a daily basis, I will fulfil orders and check inventory. I will also respond to any media and stylists requests to loan our products, which we have been very fortunate with as we have built some great relationships with celebrity stylists such as Dale McKie (clients include Montana Cox & Bambi Northwood-Blythe) as well as Marina Didovich (who works with Jennifer Hawkins for Australia’s Next Top Model). I will then also plan our social media such as Instagram and Facebook, and research any up and coming bloggers, photographers, stylists and publications that I think we should be working with. The next major part of my role will be to ensure Ford + Harris will be positioned in premium retail boutiques, so I am currently researching this also.
RF: Sharona and I juggle the entire business between the two of us and our jobs change depending on who has the time for the particular job required. My role for Ford and Harris is mainly to work out the technical elements of our designs, and because I am not trained as a jeweller, sometimes this takes a lot of research and time. However, I feel so overwhelmed with happiness when an idea comes to fruition that it is completely worth all the hard hours of thought. All our designs are little works of art that a person can choose to wear. It is a very satisfactory process when you see customers enjoying your work and creations. Sharona is really good at sensing trends and she sends me inspiration and ideas for designs – then it’s up to me to come up with specifics. So in a nut shell Sharona briefs me – then I go off and research and it works really well.
How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?
SH: It was NEVER something I thought I would be doing but I couldn’t be happier. Rachel comes from a family of jewellers so it’s in her blood, but I sort of joined in and now I can tell you how many microns of plating a jewellery piece has, the cut of a gemstone and all these other weird and wonderful jewellery terms that sounded so foreign to me only 12 months ago!
RF: Art and fashion are both long time loves of mine. I completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Queensland College of Art directly after finishing school and later completed a Diploma of Fashion Design. I didn’t like the fast paced and “throw away nature” of fashion however, and thought that perhaps I could direct my love of aesthetics into jewellery, which I think tends to be loved and treasured a lot longer than clothing.
Where do you find your inspiration?
SH: Of course Instagram, Pinterest and websites such as style.com and street photographers such as Tommy Ton give me sources of inspiration for what’s currently happening but I think real inspiration comes from your passions and personals discoveries and for me that comes from music, movies and books, especially from the 60s, 70s and early 80s era’s, which we then reinvent into something original and modern. I won’t give much away but for our next collection Rachel and I were inspired by Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface, it just shows you that you never know where your next big ‘ah ha!’ moment is going to come from!
RF: I find inspiration every day. Things people say, things people wear, things I hear and things I see. Everything is open to interpretation. I also love history and looking back at era’s and trends. For instance our latest collection was an amalgamation of the Byzantine art era, the 1970’s punk rock music scene, in addition to paying homage to Coco Chanel and her early costume jewellery designs. Nothing is new anymore – it’s all about reinterpretation. One who claims they are creating something totally new is being completely silly. We all depend on each other for innovation.
Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?
SH: I have so many mentors. I am incredibly fortunate to have so many talented friends that range from artists, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, financial planners and musicians and they are all mentors. I try to learn and absorb from people around me as much as possible. It so important to surround yourself by inspiring people, it makes life a much more fulfilling experience.
RF: My mother, Suzanne Bribosia, who has impeccable taste in jewellery, is my main inspiration. She is a hobbyist jeweller – however, if she had pursued a career in the field, she would be very well established and very well known. She still has the most amazing ideas and visions to this day and she continues to help Ford + Harris on this journey with ideas and with technical support.
What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?
SH: The whole journey has been one big stumbling block! Not in a bad way, just because neither of us had run a business let alone worked in the jewellery industry so we started from absolute ground zero. But I always put one foot in front of the other and believe that things will work out… and so far they have!
RF: Due to having no technical training in jewellery design, the start of designing our first collection was quite overwhelming for me. At times it felt too much to take on, however having a supportive partner by my side to talk through all the problems, made it possible to deal with. In freak-out times, call Sharona and get some perspective. You learn a lot about who you are when you don’t know what you’re doing. You learn your strengths and you learn your weaknesses too. It feels very satisfying to learn your strengths, and completely horrible to realise your weaknesses. But this is the journey of life, right?
How did you overcome these?
SH: NEVER be afraid to ask for help and open your eyes to the amazing sources of knowledge you have around you. Sometimes I think ‘how am I going to do that on my own?’ but I try to remember not to be too proud to ask for help, as soon as you do things become so much easier and you will be surprised by how willing people are to help someone out… Just always remember to return the favour two-fold.
RF: As I said, be honest and talk the issues out. We have learnt that communication is key, and we have also set boundaries with each other. Being best friends and business partners is hard, but for us – so far – really, really good. Be patient with each other. Be patient with all humans, we all have good days and bad days.
And knowledge is power. Learn all you can. Throw out your television. Read books, listen to Podcasts, talk to people.
What are your goals for the future?
SH: For 2015, I want to position Ford + Harris in the best retailers both here and overseas. In the long term I want Ford + Harris to be positioned world-wide as the answer to tough luxe accessories… I think there is a gap in the market for high-quality jewellery that is seriously cool and still affordable… so here we come!
RF: Sharona and I would like to be able to work full time for Ford and Harris. This is not fashion for me – I’m making people art – and I hope when people wear our items they feel the beauty, strength and love that we put into each and every item.
In the future, I would love to go to a particular town in Vietnam called Sapa, and set up a local jewellery company to support the abandoned women and children of that area. I was given a pair of amazing earrings made from coke cans about ten years ago that I love to death. The people of this area have skills in jewellery making but do not have design vision. I would love to set up an industry for these people. It’s just a matter of time for me. I want to give back somehow.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
SH: One step at a time! Just focus on the one problem or the one goal at a time and then move onto the next one, everything is achievable when you break it down into bite sized pieces.
RF: If you can’t do it by yourself, find a good partner who believes in you, and just chip away at it. One day at a time. Two minds are always going to be more powerful than one.
And – never think you have to be formally trained to do anything. We live in an era where information is easily accessible. If you want to learn it, you can. You just need the motivation!
Buying loads of jewellery is one thing, but caring for it on a daily basis is an entirely different ball game.
Whether you have a number of different pieces on high rotation or a select few for special events, we provide just a few tips on how you can care for them, plus some additional insight from Michael Fallah (Mick The Jeweller).
If you wear rings or necklaces on daily basis, it’s important to keep them away from water and perfume. Even if your pieces are sterling silver or gold plated, water and chemicals can actually turn them green and make them lose their shine.
Remove them each time you need to wash your hands, and don’t spray perfume directly onto your pieces, ever!
There are a number of different ways to store your jewellery, and one of the best is in a drawer. Not only is this a great way to see what you have at all times, they also won’t rub up against each other and lose their coating. Sometimes when these pieces rub against each other, they can scratch and tarnish at a faster rate.
Jewellery boxes lined in soft fabrics such as suede are ideal, and make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight.
If you have purchased your jewellery pieces from a designer boutique, make sure to take them back every few months for a professional clean. Rather than just using a silver cloth, the professionals will replace any default gems, and make your items look brand new!
What should I avoid?
Michael Fallah from Mick The Jeweller has also shared some tips to avoid, in order to keep your products looking their best.
- Excessive heat, sudden temperature changes and exposure to chemicals can all damage and discolour gems and precious metals. Always remove any jewellery before swimming, cleaning or applying any cosmetics, hairspray, perfumes or lotions.
- While diamonds are quite hardy, coloured gems, along with pearls and precious metals like gold, silver and platinum, are all susceptible to damage.
Image via eBay
Finding accessories which are understated to match your wedding dress are often few and far between. For most brides, delicate earrings, minimal bracelets, and fine jewellery are the best options since they don’t take the focus away from the main piece, which is of course the wedding dress.
We have picked out a few favourite styles which are perfect for the bride who wants to add a finishing touch to her entire look.
Take your hair to the next level with some amazing hair accessories for your wedding day. Clips are perfect if you choose to style your hair up or down, and bring a classic look to any ensemble.
Stick to basic pearls if you want to keep your look fairly minimal, and can only choose one piece of jewellery to wear. Not only are pearls an investment, but you can also wear them after your wedding has passed. They never go out of style!
For a statement piece of jewellery, you can’t go past a pair of tear-drop earrings. These are almost an essential if you choose to wear your hair in a classic updo. They became the main focus of your accessories, and can even be worn by women without pierced ears.
An embellished headband is one of the easiest ways to transform your look, and keep hair neat and tidy throughout the wedding! This is also an amazing option for women with a front fringe, since it will keep it in place – regardless of windy weather.
If your wedding dress is strapless, then a dainty necklace or choker is the best way to accentuate your décolletage. Stick to something simple such as an infinity sign or your initials, since it’s a nice way to tie everything together.
Although sterling silver is most popular, rose gold and gold pieces are also trendy at the moment, and available at almost every single budget.
Another popular option of the last few years are classic ear cuffs. Australian designer Ryan Storer creates a number of bespoke pieces which are suitable for both brides and the maid of honour. To highlight this look, keep hair parted onto one side, and clip back to emphasise the ear cuff at all times.
What are some of your favourite jewellery options?
Images via Lullia, Bridal Brid, Catherine Nicole, Style Me Pretty, Wedding Chicks, Tuula Vintage, Pinterest
Spoil your loved ones and celebrate the new year with a piece of jewellery that is not only stunning, but reflective of their individual style and personality. Not sure where to start? Artisanal jeweller Michael Fallah (also known as Mick The Jeweller – www.mickthejeweller.com.au), explains the various coloured gemstones and their meanings to help you to decide on the perfect gemstone!
The latest trend to sweep across Hollywood’s red carpets are the stunningly rare and effortlessly stylish black diamonds, as seen on A-listers like Jay Z, Emily Blunt and Julie Bowen. The uniqueness of the black diamond is best captured in Carrie’s iconic proposal in Sex and the City where she receives a black diamond engagement ring because she’s “not like anyone else.”
A classic for a reason, white diamonds symbolise cleanliness, purity and kindness. A firm favourite among wealthy celebrities, white diamonds can be seen adorning the likes of Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie and Beyoncé. While size can be impressive, don’t overlook the other C’s, such as colour, clarity and cut, which all make a big impact on the quality and look of a diamond.
Violet, lavender or purple gemstones are exotic, stand out pieces, worn only by the most fashion-forward and bold celebrities, like Katy Perry and Sophia Vergara, who like to make a statement with their red carpet outfits. Symbolising mystery and royalty, popular purple gemstones include amethyst, sapphire and tourmaline.
The warmth and vibrancy of orange gemstones, like Citrine, are said to increase creativity and boost stamina and energy. Perfect for those who are looking for something different yet elegant, orange gemstones have been seen on chic celebrities like Jessica Chastain and Kate Winslet.
Yellow diamonds have been a popular choice of engagement rings for celebrities looking for an alternative to white diamonds. Olivia Palermo, Heidi Klum and Carrie Underwood are all big fans of yellow diamonds which are said to represent creativity and intellectual energy.
Spurred on by Kate Middleton’s stunning heirloom sapphire ring, blue gemstones have experienced a surge in popularity. Symbolising trust, peace and youth, popular blue gemstones include aquamarine, sapphire, tanzanite and topaz.
Feminine and stylish, pink is the colour of choice when it comes to diamonds for Hollywood divas like Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez. Pink diamonds symbolise love and beauty and are the most expensive type of diamonds. Non-diamond pink gemstones include rose quartz, morganite and kunzite.
Red gemstones, including Garnets and Rubies, are said to represent confidence, courage, action and vitality. Popular with celebrities including Heidi Klum, Natalie Portman and Jessica Simpson, who received a ruby engagement ring in honour of her July birthday.
A truly show stopping colour, green gems like emerald, jade and sapphires are the ultimate marker of individuality and style. Worn by style icons, like Angelina Jolie and Jackie Kennedy, green gems are both modern yet timeless.
Spice up your accessories by investing in a trendy ear cuff for 2015. These are fantastic pieces of jewellery which come in many shapes and sizes, and don’t require you to have pierced ears to wear them.
We show you just a few different ways to style your ear cuff for any type of occasion.
A simple side braid is the best way to show off your ear cuff without going over the top. Start as close to the roots as you can, and pin back the braid behind your ear. The rest of your hair will look bouncy and voluminous, so it’s best to part your hair at an angle.
Wear this look like Cara, and accessorise with some other minimal jewellery such as a stud earring or tiered necklace.
A high ponytail is a no-fuss way to style thick hair, especially on a hot, humid day! Comb out any front or side bangs for that dishevelled look, and straighten the rest of your hair so it looks super-sleek.
Make like Lara Bingle and bring all your hair into a low bun, to draw attention to the ear cuff. This is a fool-proof hairstyle which is appropriate for a wedding, work, or even a more casual look. Pair with a bright, bold lip and a bronzed glow to bring out the colours of the ear cuff.
For thin hair, keep it simple by tucking away any strays behind your ears. Pin away any loose hairs on the side, for a casual look which is wind-proof. Wear a top or dress which will only draw attention to your ear cuff, and keep the rest of your makeup looking minimal – but a pop of colour on the lips or cheeks never hurt!
To achieve a casual look, we have taken inspiration from actress Diane Kruger to wear an ear cuff with a hat. Not only is this the best way to hide a bad hair day (we are all guilty of it!), but also to soften the dimensions of your face. Keep hair simple by leaving it down, or fasten into a side braid or ponytail.
Images via NSMBL, Pinterest, Save The Last Pinker, Not Official, Reach Couture
Have you ever dreamed of turning your hobby into a life-long career? Sally Clarke created her jewellery label, Inspired Tribe, from an impromptu trip through South Asia where she fell in love with the eclectic gems and accessories before settling into Australia soon after.
Now, more than 10 years on, not only has the first boutique opened up in Wollongong, but Sally has continued to source exquisite jewellery which makes this label truly one of a kind.
Could you tell us how Inspired Tribe first started?
I started backpacking in the 80’s and fell in love with the amazing handicrafts and jewels I saw along the way. I first took South American things back to the UK when I was still living there and sold it in markets to finance the next trip. Having spent sometime in Australia mid 80’s I decided I wanted to live here permanently and took a side trip, on my way, stopping in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. I decided to buy some stuff so I could sell at the markets until I got a real job……I did markets for 3 years and then opened the first store in Wollongong in 1995.
What are some of your must-have pieces from the collection?
Inspired Tribe are most renowned for our jewellery and each piece is either hand selected or made to our own designs. I saw a quote recently that said ‘Life is too short to wear boring jewellery’ I think that just about sums up what we believe in.
How do you think your travels have inspired the theme of the jewellery and accessories?
The early travels opened my eyes to a myriad of amazing talent and techniques. I simply fell in love with the aesthetic of all tribal cultures and how they had, for centuries, adorned themselves. I very first noticed how, in the East, jewellery had a much more important role to play than mere decoration. It meant something special to the wearer, signified their position, was security against adversity, protection against the elements and sometimes a way to give comfort to the wearer.
Coming from a very staid and conventional take on decoration, the talents of the different tribes around the world influenced me greatly. Initially, in the market days, I stuck to a ‘hippy’ look but soon realised I could adapt the product to appeal to a much wider market. The beauty of the natural gems I was working with lent themselves to a more refined treatment and so I started designing modern and simpler pieces where the gems were more the focal point. So many people are afraid to mix things up a bit and use strong colours. I think our jewellery and accessories give people the courage to try something new.
Over the years we have noticed so many of our long term customers start out buying our smallest and most discrete pieces and gradually move on to the larger, bold statement pieces. What I try to do with the collection is always keep it vibrant and unique. We all love the idea of possessing a one off piece, it makes it all the more precious. I think that is really important today in this mass production, throw away society we are all surrounded by. Our jewellery will be with you forever.
What are some of the most interesting discoveries you’ve made on your travels to India and throughout the globe?
I’ve been visiting India since 1987 and I can honestly say I learn something new every time. While the landscape and buildings are awe inspiring the real fascination, for me, is in the culture of the people. The Hindu religion is deep and fascinating, it helps to explain so much about their society but also the British influence and working out what the effects are of that. The monumental red-tape that you have to plough through for even the most simple tasks is a left over from the Empire!
More recently my travels to Morocco have brought a deeper understanding of some of the techniques I have been using for years. The connection along the silk route, the trading of crafts and knowledge will keep me going for years! Also working with the Tibetan refugees in Nepal and seeing their crafts kept alive has been a wonderful experience.
Are there any countries you’ll be visiting next (or want to visit?)
2014 saw me go to Burma for the first time on a bit of a reconnaissance trip so I would love to go back and possibly source some rough jade to work with in India (traditionally all gems go to India for cutting) Then we made it to Laos to check out the textiles which were amazing, and I would love to source some pieces to put into accessories. I am looking at possibly trying to get to Central and South America in the future. Back in the early 80’s I brought some beautiful textiles into the UK from there and it would be lovely to bring them to the Australian market.
Could you share with SHESAID readers any exciting new developments for Inspired Tribe in 2015?
Our pop-up shop in Waterloo will be showcasing some very original pieces of furniture for Jan and Feb. Some great bargains to be had! A new range of giftware and home decor hit the shelves at the end on Jan along with a new range of crystal jewellery. Our tribal jewellery will be big this year, showcasing the amazing talents of the gold and silversmiths we are so very fortunate to work with.
Plus another trip to Morocco is on the cards so watch out for some more of their truly original designs in shop. We will also be making a big effort to enhance our online store. We want to have all our products easily accessible for our customers to browse anytime, anywhere! We also realise many of our followers live in country Australia and we would love to be able to bring all our wonderful products to them.
Minimalist jewellery label, By Charlotte launched in 2012 by self-titled makeup artist Charlotte Blakeney who wanted to make women look and feel their best.
How did the humble label begin? With a single lotus flower which is still at the core of each collection 2 years on.
By Charlotte sources precious stones and garnets from Rajasthan, India which is known for its unique pieces all for hundreds of years. Each item is then put together with love in Charlotte’s Sydney studio, and sent to customers around the world.
Items follow a simple philosophy which is reflected by the humble lotus flower – as a symbol of purity and new beginnings which is ideal for women at any age. Pieces are made both sterling silver and plated in 18kt gold, as well as solid 9kt gold pieces featuring from the original Lotus Star collection.
Worn by celebrities such as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Lara Bingle, and Seal to name a few, you can shop the collection online through the official By Charlotte website.
You’ve probably heard about Sarah and Sebastian Jewellery through the grapevine; worn by a friend-of-a-friend, or even spotted one of their signature rings on Instagram. This Australian brand only launched in 2011, as the love-child of designers Sarah Gittoes and Robert Sebastian Grynkofki who turned their passion into a booming business.
Featured in local and international publications such as Vogue, ELLE, Harpers Bazaar and Marie Claire, amongst other titles, there shouldn’t be a reason why you haven’t picked up one of their pieces for yourself.
Influenced by modern simplicity which is reflected in their design aesthetic, Sarah and Sebastian aim to create bespoke pieces which are at heart, timeless.
Creating three collections of their own including Drei, Fraulein, and Blume while also collaborating with Dion Lee on his runway shows in 2013-14, has catapulted this modest Sydney duo into international fame. Stylish celebrity fans include Kate Waterhouse, Phoebe Tonkin, and Margaret Zhang (just to name a few).
Shop the collection exclusively from sarahandsebastian.com
Here at SHESAID we love nothing more than to support up-and-coming Australian talent, and designers are always at the top of our list. Whether it’s bridal couture gowns, jewellery or even underwear, these collections are always sourced from high-quality materials are and unique in their own particular fields. Keep an eye out for the following six Australian designers who are making waves here and on an international level.
Leah Da Gloria
Soon after graduating from the Sydney Institute of Design in 2007, Leah Da Gloria has been working diligently within the fashion industry before launching her own self-titled bridal label in 2012. Most recently, Leah had the oppourtunity through Fashion Palette to show her latest collection at NYFW.
You may have already heard about Jason Alton since his debut into the Australian fashion scene with the remarkable success of Nudie Jeans. Now Jason has turned his passion onto luxury inverted diamond rings, with a flagship store opening in Gould, St Bondi very soon.
Melbourne-based fashion designer Michelle Aznavorian launched her label Misha Collection which aims to offer high-end silhouettes at affordable prices. Much-loved by celebrities such as Maria Menounos and Nikki Phillips, the collections are also adored by bloggers and fashion enthusiasts worldwide.
Perth-based label Salasai is known for it’s soft tailoring and funky, bold prints. Head designers Kirsha Whitcher and Kelly Watson create unisex pieces which are easy to wear, and are very innovative – perfect for consumers who want to make the most of their pieces.
Lead designer Pat Georgiou aims to create every girls dream dress – using streamlined production methods which results in high-end products at an affordable price point. Lexi’s collection of items flatter the female form, and help incorporate some of her vintage designs with a modern twist.
Travelling all over the world gave designer Rik Van Donk a flair for detail, and quickly made him realise the essential products a globetrotting man would require for an overseas trip. All swim shorts are easy to store, quick drying and are available in two different lengths.
Images via Call Me Mimi, Accessory Agenda
When John Hardy, a former art student and a radical environmentalist from Canada, set foot in Bali in the 1970s, he was instantly captivated and inspired by the natural beauty of the Indonesian isle. Bali was and still is a welcoming place for artists with a rich culture and a beautiful landscape to provide infinite sources of inspiration.
By chance, he encountered local artisans who produced handcrafted pieces using the jewellery-making techniques honed by their ancestors. The Balinese have a rich history of dedication to the art of making jewellery, brought to the island by the Majapahit Empire 700 years ago.
John began to study ancient jewellery artisanship and to work with the local descendants of goldsmiths, who once made beautiful creations for Balinese royalty. By infusing their ancient techniques with modern ingenuity, the John Hardy brand was born in 1975, offering collectors statement pieces that are unique works of art.
An avid environmentalist, his lifestyle of harmony with the natural world became an inspiration for the brand foundation. The brand’s Bali compound is built with local, low-impact natural materials, including bamboo, adobe and thatch. At its heart is the design studio, housed in a restored Balinese community hall with an antique timber structure with a natural grass roof. Nearby is the showroom, a bamboo cathedral thatched with alang alang.
When head designer and creative director Guy Bedarida joined the company in 1990s, he brought with him skills and aesthetics developed while working with some of Europe’s high-end jewellery brands. The CEO Damien Dernoncourt and Guy together elevated the brand’s sustainable philosophy by applying new sustainable practices, like using 100 per cent reclaimed silver and planting bamboo seedlings in Bali to offset the company’s carbon emissions. To date, the brand has planted 900,000 bamboos throughout the island of Bali, the noble grass helping to sustain the lifestyle of the locals as well as protecting the environment in a variety of ways including aiding the soil’s natural water retention.
Today, John Hardy is the embodiment of ‘sustainable luxury’, preserving ancient jewellery-making techniques, which would otherwise be lost, while ensuring its business operations are environmentally conscious at all levels.
Inspired by silver screen Hollywood glamour and the 1920s jazz age, Georgini’s ‘Eternal Glamour’ range uses Tanzanite in colours of deep blue and purple to channel the allure and elegance of the bygone era. The collection is the label’s first foray into Tanzanite-coloured stones. Stackable rings are key items in the collection, perfect for layering, while black ceramic options also feature for that dramatic effect.
Georgini sales manager Marissa Gouras said: “The ‘Eternal Glamour’ collection focuses on rich beauty and Art Deco designs, with deep colouring surrounded by clear stones and stainless steel for a strong yet old-school romantic feel.”
The ‘Eternal Glamour’ jewellery pieces by Georgini shine with The Lust List’s Sally Spratt’s illustrated feminine profiles as a backdrop. The Sydney illustrator created six one-off illustrations that showcase the jewellery brand’s AW14 capsule collection.
In a sea of same same but different, I love stumbling upon the new. As a traveller, filling my home with treasures from my travels is a way of connecting to the people and places I’ve experienced, even when I’m far from those dreamy destinations.
So I was excited to discover this new Australian shopping site selling hand-picked jewellery and homewares from Peru. El Hummingbird sources the pieces directly from artisans and designers in Peru, and sells them on their online store, as well as at Bondi Markets and soon, Mosman and Paddington Markets. There are plenty of lovely items to tempt the traveller (and armchair traveller). Here are a few of the things I have my eye on:
These silver rings embellished with semi-precious stones (above) by jewellery designer Alexandra Temple, from $79. I want them all!
This vibrant frazado, $300, a traditional Peruvian handwoven blanket, has precious heirloom woven right through it. Imagine snuggling up underneath it in autumn, or using it as a design piece by draping it over your bed.
Nothing feels as good as alpaca. Warm, soft, luxurious, El Hummingbird sells a number of alpaca blankets, and I love this fringed blanket with alpaca motif, $100.
El Hummingbird is offering free Australia-wide delivery to celebrate their online launch. Visit their website elhummingbird.com.
Pearls – the gem world’s enduring style icon – are back. Do those natural wonders ever really drop off the fashionista radar? Girls have been wearing pearls since ancient Rome and beyond. A fragment of the oldest surviving pearl necklace, found in the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess who died in 520 B.C., is displayed in the Louvre in Paris.
Karl Lagerfeld played homage to Coco Chanel’s design signature with a plethora of pearls on the Chanel Pre-Spring/Summer 2014 Cruise Collection catwalk. Classic images of Coco in her ubiquitous little black dress, toying with her multiple strings of pearls, epitomise what style is all about.
Pearls are symbolic of chastity, purity and feminine charm. Those lucky enough to be born in June can enjoy them as their birthstone and if you’re celebrating your third or thirtieth wedding anniversary, your beloved better stick with the program and adorn you with those lustrous gifts from the oyster.
Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in wine and drank it to prove her love to Marc Antony and ever since, the precious gem has adorned famously chic women throughout time.
Fabulous Women Who Made Pearls Their Style Statement
1920s – Coco Chanel, Josephine Baker, Louise Brooks
Flappers kicked up their heels to the Charleston while Louise Brooks and Josephine Baker showed them how to make the moves more alluring with a strand or two of pearls. Coco Chanel gave pearls iconic style status and made them her design signature, famously declaring every woman should wear ‘ropes and ropes’ of pearls.
1950s – Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe
Elegance and the single strand went hand in hand. Ice Princess Grace Kelly kept hers tight and teamed with white gloves, Audrey Hepburn wore hers to Breakfast (at Tiffany & Co., of course) and Sophia Loren gave hers the siren treatment with a décolletage worthy neckline.
Blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe treasured a strand of Mikimoto cultured Akoya pearls given to her by her husband, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, whilst on their honeymoon in Japan. Marilyn gave the necklace to her friend Paula Strasburg and in 1998, Paula’s daughter Susan gave the pearls back to Mikimoto to be put on display – still in the original oval box they were given to Marilyn in.
1960s – Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie O
Glamorous movie icon and avid jewel and husband collector, Elizabeth Taylor, once owned La Peregrina, one of the most famous pearls in history. Her beloved Richard Burton bought the famous pearl that passed from an African slave to European Kings and Queens, including Mary I of England, at a Sotheby’s auction for $37,000. He gave it to Elizabeth for Valentine’s Day during their first marriage. Liz had Cartier redesign the piece, setting La Peregrina with diamonds, rubies and pearls. In December 2011, the pearl sold for more than $11 million at auction at Christie’s New York.
Jackie O kept her signature Chanel suit and pearl look a little more lady-like and subtle.
1980s – Madonna, Boy George
Pop princess Madonna tarnished the pearl’s purity reputation by taking Coco Chanel’s advice and adorning herself with ropes of pearls, atop tight lace ensembles, fingerless gloves, crucifixes and writhing on a gondola in Venice ‘Like a Virgin’ style.
Boy George teamed his strands of pearls and brooches with billowy satin and proved pearls are definitely not just for girls.
1990s – Princess Diana
Royalty and pearls just works. Tiaras, brooches and chokers, Princess Diana made her pearls work at just about any occasion. A gym visit of a charity gala event, a Princess can somehow make a pearl work in any situation.
2000s – Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie
Sarah Jessica Parker was never afraid of a bold pearl look on the set of Sex & the City.
Angelina Jolie, who has temporarily moved to Sydney with her brood Shiloh, Maddox, Pax, Zahara Marley, Vivienne and Knox, to work on her latest movie Unbroken, is fond of a simple strand of pearls and matching earrings when addressing G8 Meetings or walking the red carpet.
First Lady Michelle Obama takes the pearl beyond stylish and makes them effortlessly ‘cool’.
2013 – Taylor Swift, Rihanna
Apparently pearls are the secret to songstress Taylor Swift’s day-to-night dressing. A staple pearl necklace and earrings secreted in her change purse is all she needs to make her ‘day’ outfit party-ready.
Rihanna has worked pearls into everything from show-stopper sunglasses to layer upon layer of strands for a more ‘demure’ look.
Do you love pearls or think they are old-fashioned? What’s your favourite way of wearing pearls?