Knowledge of diamonds and stones is something that fascinates me. There is so much to learn and I am always interested in those who can teach us! Today’s expert is the very knowledgeable Garry Holloway of Melbourne based Holloway Diamonds. Holloway Diamonds is not only renowned for their stunning work, but the brand is also a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council whose members are committed to promoting responsible ethical, human rights, social and environmental practices in a transparent and accountable manner throughout the jewellery industry from mine to retail. We’re delighted to welcome Garry to Polka Dot Wisdom today!
Please tell us a little about your background. Did you have someone special in your childhood who influenced you?
I was backpacking to Europe after graduating as a Geologist. Bought some gems in India and Sri Lanka, bought some tools in London and started setting the gems in my own designs. My Dad taught me that you can make anything you want and we had a shed choc-a-block full of all sorts of tools.
Pink and white diamond cluster ring
How did you first gain your appreciation of fine jewellery?
As a Geologist I had developed an appreciation of gems and minerals.
What was the catalyst for moving this interest into a career?
When I returned from London and looked around at the jewellery stores I could see there were big gaps in what was on offer and how badly customer were treated. They felt they had to get dressed up to even take a repair in; jewelers were foreboding.
How long has Holloway Diamonds existed?
35 years, and yes there is lots of history and countless stories – many good, and some not so good like chasing armed robbers all around Camberwell and Burwood at high speeds.
Do you design and make the jewellery you sell (on your premises)?
Do we ever! It was the big gap that I saw 36 years ago. I bought all the skills that were subcontracted out under the one roof. This made commission and custom design work practical because we make what people tell us and think they are going to get. Not what the illiterate subby thinks the salesperson who can’t draw wrote on a job packet.
Can you describe the design process?
Cutting is a separate thing, rarely do jewellers cut gems to order.
The process begins with Granma’s diamond, or we have the gems in stock, or our gemmologists bring something in from a cutter overseas or a local wholesaler. Our designers sit with clients at a desk and show our wide range of existing collections. From this, and if need be with the assistance of an actual jeweller, we arrive at a unique new design which we then implement with tight and consistent quality controlled processes. Our craftsmen have all won design awards and have together close to 200 years total experience. Finally one of our Registered Valuer’s completes an insurance valuation.
What gems do you most enjoy working with?
The girl’s best friend! We are acknowledged as Australia’s leading diamond experts, especially when it comes to the most important of the 4C’s – diamond cut quality.
Is there a trend towards using more coloured stones, whether they are diamonds or other gems?
Colored diamonds have long been our forte. Pink and champagne, black diamonds and recently we have introduced a fabulous range of fancy yellow diamond engagement rings that are really worth looking up on our website.
We’re newly engaged and I want to ask you to design my ring. How do I go about approaching this process?
Walk in the door. Allow at least an hour or maybe two. You will find it is one of the most wonderful experiences ever in your life.
Are pearls more popular with a particular age group, or do they look great on anyone?
Pearls have become a bit passe. Farming practices keep getting more and more efficient and prices keep falling so clients who bought a strand for +$10k several years ago are unhappy that they see the same or better for less than half the price.
Any sage advice for the unwary when buying pearls?
Buy what looks good and suits your lifestyle. Don’t think there is any investment value because the supply is unlimited.
With publicity surrounding the dangers of harvesting pearls and the mining of diamonds, what measures do you take to ensure your customers can have confidence in the ethical practices of the industry?
We are the first and only company in Australia to have undergone the most rigorous corporate social responsibility audit in the world. The Responsible Jewellery Council was set up in London in 2006 to ensure conflict diamonds, child labour and environmental destruction is not part of our supply chain. Our diamond cutters and suppliers have also undergone these audits.
We’d like to thank Garry for sharing his knowledge and time with us today. For more information on the beautiful jewellery at Holloway Diamonds visit the website.
All images courtesy of Garry Holloway