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jewellery

Fashion

Fashion Q&A: Nic Cerrone, founder Cerrone Jewellers

26th October, 2017

The Cerrone family

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.

Nic at the Cerrone workshop in Leichhardt

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.

Cerrone’s Elizabethan Ruff design

Nic and model Kristy Hinze wearing the award-winning Elizabethan Ruff

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.

The vessel, plate and ciborium for World Youth Day

 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!

Nic’s property in the Southern Highlands, NSW

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?

Sokyo at The Star.

Where do you see the brand in the next five years?

Still as successful as ever, looking after our clients.

Date with Kate, Fashion

Date with Kate: Samantha Wills

30th October, 2016
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Samantha Wills and I catch up at The Apollo Restaurant, Potts Point

As a 21-year-old, Samantha Wills founded her own, self-titled jewellery company. Her pieces have since been worn by the likes of Taylor Swift and Eva Mendes and appeared in the 2010 movie Sex and the City 2. Wills has been chosen to be a face of marketing campaigns for Optus, Yellowglen, Mount Franklin and Nespresso. This year, she was nominated at the Australian of the Year Awards. Wills, 33, chatted to me about the best advice she has been given, what she misses most about Australia, and how she turned her hobby into a business with $10 million turnover annually.

What is a day in the life of you?

When I’m in New York, it’s very creative focused [and I’m] in design mode. When I’m in Sydney, it’s very much team- and media-focused.

How did it all start for you?

I started the company when I was 21 – 12 years ago. Now we have offices in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Paris, Korea and Japan, and it started just as a hobby on my dining room table. I started selling down at Bondi Beach market and launched at Australian Fashion Week, very opportunistically, in 2004 with $17,000 of orders. As a 23-year-old, I threw everything I had, got myself into $80,000 of debt and refused to give up.

Did you always dream of becoming a jewellery designer?

I think when I was younger, I definitely always thought I’d have my own business in some capacity and it was always going to be creative. For me, jewellery wasn’t the be all and end all. It was more something that I could hand make myself without formal training, and so it kind of naturally evolved that way.

You’ve had many celebrities wear your designs. Who are some of your favourites that really stand out in your mind?

Definitely Taylor Swift is a huge favourite in American Vogue. Eva Mendes has to be a favourite. She made our signature Bohemian Bardot Ring [into] a global signature. Ever since she wore it [in 2008], it has been our bestselling item. And to have it appear on Sex and the City was pretty surreal as well.

How did the Sex and the City collaboration come about?

We were presenting to media in Los Angeles and … you hope that the right people come past. Patricia Field, the style assistant for the film, came past. They made some notes and then called some pieces in … You can assume those samples will be gone for a year or you won’t get them back because they go into the wardrobe department. About a year later, I had certainly forgotten about it, and we received a card with an illustration of the four girls on the front and it said, “One hand in the air for the big city, thanks for making us look so pretty. Love, Patricia” … I literally had to wait to go to the premiere of the film to see our products up on the big screen.

How did appearing in Sex and the City impact on your brand?

It kind of like evolves the story I think and adds credibility at an international level.

You are the face of Optus’ Small Business Campaign. How did that come about?

It was quite surreal. I think when you get a phone call like, “We’ve signed Mark Wahlberg on to do a campaign and would like you to sign on to the same campaign?”, I was kind of like, “Do you guys have the right number?”

Did you really think that?

Yes, it clicked to me that you really don’t know who is watching your journey and the team at Optus had done a lot of research on the last 12 years of my career and really felt that my story of an underdog from small town Port Macquarie to New York City would really resonate with small- to medium-sized business owners.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Working in fashion, people expect you to have attitude … [so] I think if you can be a nice person and treat everyone like they’re someone, it really goes a long way.

What would you tell your 19-year-old self? 

I think about myself when I was starting the business and the anxiety and the fear and the 20-hour work days … I would try and tell myself that if you look up every once in a while, everything is going to be OK, but I don’t think she will listen.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face? 

There are always challenges as your business grows or you become “procedure successful” – the challenges just differ. In the early days, being $80,000 in debt, as a 24-year-old is incredibly daunting. As the business grows, it’s people issues. You’re only as good as the people around you, so you’re continually managing people as well as the business.

What would your advice to someone starting out in the jewellery industry?

My overarching advice is you don’t want to be that person at the party, three years from now, being like, “Oh yeah, I was always going to do that”. Just start, even as insignificant as the action might seem, do something towards what you’re wanting to do.

Is New York home now?

It feels like home at the moment. I’ve got a great network over here and home is where you build your network. I say New York is my city, Sydney is my town.

What do you miss most about Australia?

Definitely the beaches. I think I was so spoilt growing up in Port Macquarie with these beautiful coastlines and then, in my 20s, in Sydney. When I come back to Australia now I know I look like a tourist because I’m taking a thousand photos of the ocean. I’m in it everyday. It just gives you a whole new level of appreciation for how beautiful our country is.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a lot of external projects outside of the brand, which is really exciting for a personal career perspective… [It has been] stimulating and inspiring to kind of step outside the business, but still have it as the backbone and, I guess, the foundation of everything that I touch.

BITESIZE

WE WENT TO The Apollo Restaurant, Potts Point

WE ATE Walnuts filo pastry coffee cream dessert

WE DRANK Champagne and mineral water

SAMANTHA WORE Misha Collection jumpsuit

Fashion

Wedding series: Find the perfect jewellery

24th August, 2016

You’ve got the dress, you’ve got your shoes but have you chosen your jewellery? Beautiful accessories are often the finishing touch of your entire look and finding the perfect pieces is key. Much like your dress your jewellery will largely depend on your style. Are you opting for a relaxed bohemian vibe or something modern and edgy? Do you want to go minimalist or go bold and dramatic? There are plenty of great pieces available at various price points so you’re sure to find something to fall in love with. Just keep in mind key things like your dress’ neckline (sometimes a dramatic neckline means you may be better off skipping a necklace); how you’re wearing your hair (for example bold earrings may sometimes work better with an up-do) and keeping your accessories consistent, for example having all dainty jewellery or opting for something that makes a bigger statement.

Check out some of my top picks below:

Fashion, Shop

The dos and don’ts of wearing a choker

1st August, 2016

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The ‘90s comeback has meant that the choker has also made a triumphant return, with everyone from Kendall Jenner to Gigi Hadid getting behind this trend. And why not? It’s an easy way to update a look and one that won’t blow the budget – you can even DIY if you want. So if you’re thinking of adding this to your fashion repertoire here are some things to remember…

Do consider necklines when wearing a choker. A deep V-neck or strapless silhouette that exposes your décolletage makes a choker look especially alluring. A one-shoulder neckline (similar to what I wore above) that shows off the clavicle also works well.

A choker will always look great for the evening so do wear it out on a night out – a metallic choker will look especially chic when the sun goes down.

Don’t go too tight when it comes to neckwear! A choker should sit comfortably around your neck and move around quite easily. This also makes for a more flattering fit.

Do experiment with different widths. Whilst a thicker choker will definitely make a statement a thin leather band looks great when wrapped around the neck a few times.

Don’t forget about the humble scarf. Wrapping a scarf around your next and tying it artfully is something that French women have mastered and it looks super chic when doing so. A simple silk scarf that you can wrap around your neck then tie in front is a great alternative to the traditional metal or leather choker.

Do try pairing a choker with casual wear. Street style fave Gigi Hadid has often been spotted wearing a thin choker with a simple tee and a hoodie that gives the look some edge.

Want to try the trend? Here some of my top picks…

    

Have you got behind the choker trend?

Photography: Sophia Athas

Beauty, Fashion, Fashion & Beauty

Valentine’s Day Gifts for Her

11th February, 2016

 

These to-die-for gifts take feeling the love to a whole new level. Send this guide to your other half or why not just simply just spoil yourself? Either way these gift ideas will inspire lots of love heart emojis!

Giorgio Armani lipstick

Every woman needs at least one standout lipstick that makes her feel and look amazing. Giorgio Armani do lots of flattering shades that will make sure your pout is picture perfect.

Aamaya by Prinyanka XO Earrings 

Hugs and kisses, anyone? You can never go wrong with jewellery – especially when they’re this adorable.

Lanvin clutch

Carry love with you wherever you go with this amazing clutch. It’s definitely a major, major splurge but who wouldn’t want a little Lanvin lovin’ in their life?

La Perla balconette bra Briefs

La Perla are the crème de la crème of lingerie brands and we’re sure this set would be as much a present for that lucky someone in your life as it would be for you. A win-win gift situation all round.

Amber Sceats bow ring

Who can resist a pretty bow? The minimalist jewellery trend seems to be here to stay so this would make a welcome addition to any collection.

Miu Miu knit sweater

Hearts, cashmere and Miu Miu. An ideal Valentine’s Day gift if we ever saw one.

Ileana Makri eternity ring

Diamonds are a girls’ best friend especially when they come in the form of this amazing ring. Whether you want yellow, white or rose gold, this sparkler is a definite keeper.

 

 

Fashion

How to layer jewellery

5th August, 2015

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There are some days where I will keep my accessories quite pared back while other days I’ll layer a few pieces. There’s no doubt that the layered jewellery trend is huge at the moment and what I love about it is that it can be worn in so many different ways. However I’ve found that to avoid the whole look being a bit overwhelming, there are some important things to keep in mind…

If you’re layering bracelets…

If you’re going to the beach or something more casual then anything really goes and you can wear fine jewellery with a chunky watch mixed with material or leather bracelets. If you’re dressing up a bit it’s great to keep the same theme and keep your bracelets in the same metal family and the same thickness. I do sometimes like to clash my metals but I always have to have something that ties them together somehow; for example when I wear gold and silver it’s because I’m wearing a watch that features both those colours.

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If you’re layering necklaces…

If you’re layering a thin necklace then it’s best to keep it in the same metal and the same style. For example you don’t want to do a beautiful long thin necklace and then have a chunky choker. You just want lots of delicate pieces in all different shapes and sizes.

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If you’re layering rings…

As rings are so close together, it’s a good idea to have them in similar colours if you’re going to be wearing a few (if you are wearing an engagement ring or a wedding ring I think you can get away with them not being the same colour family). It also comes down to the type of rings you’re wearing. With more delicate rings you can get away with wearing more than you would if you were wearing chunkier, statement rings.  Ultimately it’s about mixing and matching until you get a combination that you’re happy with.

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What do you think of this trend? Do you like layering your jewellery?

Photography: Stockholm Street Style, Song of Style Sincerely Jules, Peace Loves Shea

Fashion

My fave investment jewellery

18th May, 2015

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I tend to keep my accessories quite simple and have some regular go-to pieces that I will rotate according to the occasion. Below are some of staples that I can’t live without…

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1. Patek Philippe watch

This was a 30th birthday gift from my parents and my aunts and uncles and I wear it to death. It’s simple, it’s understated and elegant and I know I’ll be wearing it for years to come.

2. Van Cleef and Arpels Sweet Alhambra Clover bracelet

I’m all about delicate jewellery and this is a piece that can be worn on its own or layered.

3. Hardy Brothers tennis bracelet

I was the ambassador for Hardy Brothers’ 160th anniversary year and that was one of the pieces that I wore during that campaign and I fell in love with it.

4. Tiffany & Co link bracelets

These were a birthday gift from my aunt and they’re also one that can be worn on its own or stacked with another piece.

5. Claire Aristides initial bracelet

I think a customised bracelet makes a really nice gift so I’ve given this Claire Aristides bracelet to friends as birthday presents.

6. Cartier nail bracelet

I love this and wear it to death. It’s versatile and works with so many different outfits. I tend to wear it and layer it with other jewellery.

7. Kailis bracelet

This was a gift from Luke. I think it’s great for an evening occasion – I think pearls are so elegant and understated.

Photograph: Tamika Keioske