Meet Simon Grew, the Sydney gemologist crafting fine jewellery that happily marries ancient techniques with a thoroughly contemporary vibe…
You might say that, from a very young age, Simon Grew’s destiny was written in stone. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated by rocks and minerals. I remember going out to play and explore and coming home with pockets full of rocks I thought were some kind of fossil or undiscovered gem,” says Simon, owner of Sydney-based fine jewellery design house Grew & Co.
It wasn’t until his teens that he knew for sure he’d found his calling. “I was lucky enough to meet an amazing jeweller and watch him work. From that point, I was enchanted.” Thanks to an apprenticeship straight out of high school, Simon learned traditional methods of hand manufacturing jewellery – “I’ve endeavoured to keep learning ever since” – and now meticulous craftsmanship is at the heart of his fine jewellery brand.
The business was born from a love story. Simon and Gabrielle Grew met at gemology school and founded Grew & Co in 2006. They started out in a converted workshop/garage in the backstreets of Paddington in Sydney with the philosophy of “creating amazing work for amazing people”, says Simon.
Inspired by a love of vintage and antique jewellery, the pieces are more wearable fine art to be passed down through generations than mere adornment. Offering ready-to-wear and bespoke jewellery, the brand’s aesthetic is edgy, colourful, minimal and feminine. Grew often mixes ancient techniques with modern sensibilities, as in the men’s wedding ring range, which draws on the traditional Japanese technique known as kintsugi (“golden joinery”) where broken ceramics are mended with gold, so that the fracture lines are still visible yet made beautiful.
The company sources rare and precious gems from Australia and across the world. “Sometimes this is directly via the mine. To keep up with the current trend of Australian teal sapphire, I have recently travelled to a mine in North Queensland to choose a fine selection of unique, insanely bright Australian teal sapphires.”
While working with some of the planet’s hardest materials, the Grew & Co approach is to bend and shape to the needs of customers, to “meet them at each stage of life”. “The first time we meet a client is when they are seeking out a bespoke engagement ring. This is the foundation of learning about our customer. Learning about their lifestyle, their partner and expectations allows us to create a piece tailored to the receiver. We then see them again to customise a wedding band to perfectly complement their engagement ring.”
This is the kind of VIP treatment you’d expect from a quality brand’s tailor-made service. But the ready-to-wear range has a strong element of reciprocity, too — a result of Grew & Co’s gemologists lending an ear to understand what the customer wants. Pieces showcased on Instagram are usually bought as soon as they’re posted, testament to the team’s listening skills.
The team has recently extended that attention to detail to a new range of artisanal homewares, something that’s about “extending the conversation with customers” by offering pieces for the home that complement the style of jewellery. Similarly, Grew & Co’s new premises are customer-focused. On the ground floor of the iconic Arc by Crown development in Sydney’s Clarence Street, the new store offers clients a “private, luxurious and calm” space, and has their travel needs in mind. Grew & Co has arranged special rates on accommodation at Skye Hotel for clients travelling to visit. (Yes, people will get on a plane to experience Grew & Co’s service).
Then, of course, there’s the journey involved in creating the piece itself. Simon’s advice is to allow up to 10 weeks from first contact to the finished piece. “Visit our store or familiarise yourself with our designs online and ask lots of questions, even if that question is ‘What do I need to know?” And the way Simon sees it, being part of that quest to find The Ring is a privilege.
“It is pure joy to be invited in to such a personal part of someone’s life. Sometimes we are the only other person they have discussed it with. We hope they find the same connection and love as the first time they opened the Grew & Co box with their ring inside.”