This year proved that no matter what life throws at us, love always wins.
Despite plans for lavish ceremonies and destination weddings, lovers around the world said “I do” to living room proposals and vows over Zoom.
Helping couples to spread a whole lot of joy in a time of heartache was Cushla Whiting, founded by siblings: Anna, Hamish and Cushla.
Through not one but two lockdowns, the Melbourne jewellery atelier sparked joy in the darkest of moments – even with their doors closed.
Just before Melbourne went into lockdown, Cushla Whiting expanded their beautiful showroom to allow space for more collection rings and even an in-house jewellery workshop.
Inspired by gems and cosmology, the incredible space was created by architect Richard Stampton and is now home to a striking fine jewellery display suspended from a large granite rock.
The family business has ventured further into the world of antique diamonds since we last caught up too. With a gemologist based in the iconic Antwerp Diamond Bourse, Cushla Whiting hand selects precious stones which can be reworked into contemporary and completely bespoke creations.
Each individual stone is proudly one-of-a-kind with a delightful charm which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
As lockdown lifts in certain pockets of the globe, Together Journal caught up with Cushla Whiting to hear all about their incredible new showroom and venture into antique sparklers.
Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your beautiful showroom expansion?
We worked with architect Richard Stampton, who designed our first showroom fit-out, inspired by gems, geological time and cosmology.
We have expanded our showroom area to incorporate more of our ‘floating’ boulder displays, another bespoke table for wedding band appointments, and a striking fine jewellery display suspended on a large granite rock.
We’ve created a brand new studio space for us to work from too, including an inhouse jewellery workshop for our master jeweller.
Your gemologist is currently based at the Antwerp Diamond Bourse. For those of us who are new to purchasing jewellery, what makes this such a special place to source stones?
Antwerp’s diamond district of Diamantkwartier, nicknamed the square mile, covers an area of about one square mile.
With 84% of the world’s rough diamonds passing through the district, this is the largest diamond district in the world.
There are 380 workshops which serve 1,500 companies, made up of 3,500 brokers, merchants and diamond cutters.
Antwerp has been a focus of the diamond trade since the 15th century. The industry was transformed when a local diamond cutter invented a new form of diamond polishing tool which enabled the creation of the stereotypical sparkling, multifaceted diamond.
This attracted orders from European nobility and attracted other craftsmen to Antwerp. In the 1890s, a diamond industry was established in Antwerp by families of diamonds traders and manufacturers who came from Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Can you talk us through the process of sourcing antique stones?
Antique diamonds come to the diamond bourse from all over Europe and the rest of the world. Antique jewellery and precious stones are sold to brokers by individuals and families who may have had them in their possession for generations.
The stones are then unset, graded and resold to be made into contemporary jewellery pieces.
As they have been cut by hand, many often have issues with the cut quality so having our gemologist, Hamish Whiting, based at the Bourse is a real advantage. This means we are able to hand select the most beautiful ones for our customers.
Have you noticed a rise in demand for antique diamonds in recent years?
I’ve noticed antique diamonds becoming more and more popular in recent times, not just in Australia but worldwide, especially in the US.
Factors contributing to this rise in popularity include the fact that each stone is hand cut by a highly skilled craftsman using only rudimentary technology over a century ago, making each individual stone completely unique with a charm that is unbeatable.
Their larger facets give off broader reflections of light than the modern brilliant with its many smaller facets. Because they are being recycled and reused, they are also the most environmentally responsible choice.
Customers can purchase a collection ring which features an antique stone. Can you name a couple of your gemologist’s favourites?
I personally love the Celine Antique Old Mine cut ring. The warm, golden hue of the diamond with its large facets is magical.
We keep a lot of our antique diamonds as loose diamonds so that customers can create a design perfect for them.
You recently launched new collection rings such as the Montana Shield. Which are some of your favourite pieces?
I love the Montana Shield ring (pictured below), not only because it holds the most beautiful, rare light blue shield shaped Montana sapphire but also because of its bold geometric lines. It really is a one of a kind ring!
The Celine Old Mine Cut ring is a real showstopper too. The antique Old Mine diamonds are so special and have so much character. In this minimal setting it is completely mesmerising.
I’m also a big fan of more bold, gold statement pieces so the Gypsy Set rings (pictured above) with their highly polished, gold domed surfaces and flush set diamonds are also a favourite of mine.
Visit Cushla Whiting online.