Established in 1972, Cerrone is one of Australia’s most esteemed jewellery houses with its pieces frequently seen in magazines, on red carpets and many a glamorous event. At the helm of the brand is founder, Nic Cerrone who unexpectedly discovered his passion for jewellery design whilst doing gardening maintenance for the man who would eventually become his teacher. The rest, as he says, “is history”. Here Nic chats to me about his most favourite design ever, his biggest career highlight and the celebrity he considers to be “the perfect customer”…
What is a day in the life of you?
I get energy from getting up at 5am to get to the gym. I’m in the Leichhardt office between 7am – 6pm where my desk overlooks our workshop. I can be in and out of the office with various commitments. After work I like to be home with my wife, Carmela and our dog, an Italian greyhound named Charli.
Where did your career in jewellery design begin?
In Australia, I was doing the garden maintenance for a jeweller and used to watch him craft. I was very interested and asked him for an apprenticeship. He became my master and before long I had opened Cerrone up in the back of my mother’s terrace, the same location the Leichhardt boutique stands today. The rest is history.
Do you remember the first big break for Cerrone?
When I finished my apprenticeship I travelled the world for six months. This gave me a lot of inspiration and once I came back, I crafted a new collection and it sold out.
Who has been your favourite celebrity client to date?
There are so many beautiful customers, and I love that we are now looking after their children and their children’s children. However Barbara Streisand was the perfect customer. She is very well educated on diamonds, especially pink diamonds. She loves her jewellery and appreciates unique pieces.
You have won over 50 national and international jewellery design awards. What award have you been most proud of?
The De Beers Diamond International award in 1998. It is considered the Oscars of the jewellery industry and I was proud to bring the recognition back to Australia. The Elizabethan Cuff I designed is still my wife’s favourite piece and women continue to ask to wear it to various events.
How has the industry changed over the years?
The industry has changed on an international scale with global techniques. Handmade jewellery is very rare these days and is a craft that continues to define Cerrone.
Cerrone is now a global brand with a presence across Sydney, the US, Middle East, India and Italy. Do you find there is a difference in taste across your clientele?
Absolutely. Different style appeals to different cultures and various gems tend to be more popular in different countries. Cerrone is passionate about pushing the envelope with our creations and I like to challenge myself with new designs so we constantly produce a broad selection of hand crafted jewellery pieces.
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Making the vessel, plate and ciborium for the Pope for World Youth Day 2008. I am Italian—it was a dream come true.
What does timeless style mean to you?
Where beauty meets balance and craftsmanship.
Where is your favourite travel destination?
Italy, Milano is my favourite city in the world.
What do you like to do in your time off?
I have a property in the Southern Highlands that I like to retreat to with my family. It is the most peaceful place on earth!
What is your favourite piece from all your collections?
The ‘Elizabethan Ruff’ I designed which won The De Beers Diamond International award 2008.
How do you ensure your craftsmanship remains world class?
I travel around the world frequently which helps keep me inspired while keeping note of different trends.
Where do you find inspiration?
Through travel, mainly Europe through architecture and fashion.
How did you grow your business to the success it is today?
Quality always and customer service is key.
Where is your favourite place to eat in Sydney?
Where do you see the brand in the next five years?
Still as successful as ever, looking after our clients.