Sydney-based gemmologist and private jeweller Olivia Bond specialises in gemstone sourcing, diamond grading and bespoke diamond design. After several years in the auction market at the prestigious Sotheby’s in London and Shapiro in Sydney, Olivia moved into operations at Bulgari’s Sydney flagship store before solidifying herself in the luxury space, independently. The perennially sophisticated mother-of-two talks about her speciality and how fulfilling her clients’ needs brings her joy.
How did you fine-tune your interests as a gemmologist and diamond specialist?
After a stint at Sotheby’s in London I returned to Australia and studied gemmology, diamond grading and jewellery valuation at the GAA. I also worked at Bulgari while studying which was a wonderful experience. I got a sense of what customers want and a feel for beautiful quality jewellery. It was also during this time that I made many of the connections in the industry that I still use today.
What did working for British leader Sotheby’s, add to your professional development?
Sotheby’s really ignited my passion for jewellery. I loved all of the auctions, but the jewellery ones were my favourite. I remember doing a tour of a jewellery auction \ with the (then) Head of Jewellery Joanna Hardy. Her breadth of knowledge was so impressive and her obvious excitement over the pieces was contagious. I realised jewellery was what I wanted to focus on. I began collecting catalogues (a habit I still have) and read them cover to cover. They come in very handy for design references and general knowledge of the field. Following auctions also gives wonderful insight into what is trending, what is selling, and for how much.
What led you to establish your own company?
In 2014 when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I realised that the flexibility of working for myself would be ideal with babies. This has ended up being the case as I have two now, and I am able to choose when I work and how much I can work depending on what is happening at home. Also, babies aside, I definitely prefer the autonomy of running my own business. The protocols and procedures of larger companies that I worked for would sometimes drive me a bit mad!
What is unique to the brand Olivia Bond diamonds?
The service. It is very personal (currently it is just me) and I truly care that every client walks away completely happy with their beautiful piece of jewellery. Also, because I make just about everything bespoke, I don’t push certain items on clients because I need to move stock that I own already. This means I listen more to what the client wants and try to make it happen exactly as they have dreamed it. Courtesy of The Grace Tales
Is there a key attribute one should consider when buying an engagement ring or indulging in a piece?
I always say, don’t get too tied up in the certificate and the specifications of a diamond. The important thing is that it speaks to you and that you love it. Sometimes a diamond looks great on paper but can just lack that fire that you want to see, or just not feel quite right. Trust your instinct and go with it!
You’ve shared with us that the sentimental value of a piece of jewellery is something which is deeply fulfilling in your work. What other elements of your role inspire you?
I love how special jewellery gets passed through generations and treasured over and over again. I get a lot of enquiries for redesigns of pieces using the stones left by grandmothers or mothers. I think this is such a lovely thing, and I really enjoy bringing new life to these pieces.
Are there challenges with gemstone sourcing?
One thing I see a lot of is an unrealistic idea of how much a stone will cost. I think this is driven by people doing their own google searches and deciding that they know how much it should be. Unfortunately this industry is very competitive and you really do get what you pay for. If you see something that looks like an amazing deal online, be aware that there are factors you can’t see in a certificate or a picture, and there will be a reason why it is so cheap! While I am of course always happy to work to a budget provided by a client, I only want to sell beautiful stones with plenty of life, and these tend to be priced accordingly.
How are you able to reset an original piece while creating a fresh design?
One of the wonderful things about jewellery is how you can alter it and change it to suit you and your style. Sometimes people love a ring when they first get engaged, but then their taste matures and they feel they would like their ring to reflect that. Always know that you can update your setting while still holding on to your original stone. Sometimes an updated setting will compliment and show off that stone even more than the original setting. Don’t be afraid to play around with it so you can be totally happy with your ring. You have to look at it every day, you should love it!
As a fan of mixing gold, silver and coloured diamonds and gems, what jewels are you personally enjoying right now?
Obviously yellow gold is having a huge moment right now, so it’s fun to layer yellow gold chains with one of my white gold diamond tennis necklaces. Interestingly, I think that adding more jewels in this way can give a more casual overall look. Also, introducing a pop of colour such as an emerald, ruby or sapphire is a great way to keep things fresh and fun. People loved to apply rules to what jewellery should be worn with what, and where, and when, but I’m all about encouraging what feels good, forget the rules! Courtesy of Instagram
Any diamond trends we should know about?
I am seeing a strong interest in tennis necklaces and bracelets. I think for a long time Australian women have been worried about these pieces being too ‘formal’ and not getting wear out of them every day, but slowly we are starting to realise that you can wear diamonds casually, it is all about how you style them. Another strong trend I’m seeing in the engagement ring space is oval cuts and pear cuts. These are rising hugely in popularity (and pushing the price up accordingly!)
From a fashion point of view, who/what are your favourite designers or styles?
At the moment I am really enjoying Loewe for their sophistication, minimalism and timeless style. I also love Chloe’s current prints and colour tones and the strength of Balenciaga’s bold silhouettes and colours.
Your personal ingredients for running a business whilst caring for little ones?
Organisation, flexibility and lots of help! It’s not possible to do it all by yourself, it really does take a village, so don’t be afraid to ask when you need it!
What is the perfect accessory with diamonds?
A glass of champagne? But seriously, diamonds go with EVERYTHING. That is their magic.