Sparkle & shine

The holidays will be upon us faster than you can say Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (less than five weeks to go, loves!), and what better way to kick off the party season with some champers and scrumptious nibbles at a cocktail party for the launch John de Jong’s (jdj-jewellery.com) latest jewellery collection. To marvel at some of the most exquisite diamonds and pearls we’ve ever laid eyes on, this fashionable girl just had to bring some stylish friends to the über-discreet JdJ showroom, which de Jong opened at Bay and Bloor in 1996.

(We’re not naming names, but we spotted a well-known magazine publisher, who’s family have supposedly been long-time clients.) Between chatting with the lovely staff and deciding which rings would make the perfect engagement present, we were simply giddy being around such gorgeousness.

The day before our enchanted evening, we chatted with John de Jong, the gentleman behind all that shines, about where he gets his inspiration for his collections and why jewels are always good for the holidays.

The holidays are always known for being a good time of year to give jewellery. Why do you think that is?
“It’s a time when people want to mark the occasion, and jewellery is timeless. If you receive a piece of jewellery, it’s not something you’re going to be throwing away; it’s something you’re going to keep for a very long time—it may even become an heirloom. The three kings brought gifts that were pretty sparkly, too. They started it off! [laughs]”

Your new Sevilla collection includes wooden rings and cuffs. Is wood a new material for you?
“It is actually.  The wood pieces were carved by our stonecutter in Germany. He makes these beautiful rings and cuffs out of exotic wood from Brazil—ebony, amaranth and cocobolo. They’re all really durable, hard woods. And then we’ve applied the gold Sevilla pieces with diamonds, or just with plain gold, as well. I think they’re fun, I’ve had a great reaction.”

Where did your inspiration for your new holiday collection come from?
“I was at Baselworld, in Switzerland, which is the most important jewellery fair in the world. I saw all these really beautiful coloured pearls that I had never seen before, all these deep rich colours, like a brown and bronzy pink. I bought up a whole collection, and that was my inspiration. I framed one of the big pearls (shown, $7,900, on a mink choker, $1,500) with brown and white diamonds. Brown diamonds are natural, and the pearls in that colour are actually treated. They start with the base of a Tahitian pearl, a very fine Tahitian pearl, and they treat the pearl to bring out the chocolate colour.”

Have you noticed more awareness of coloured diamonds in the past few years?

“Definitely. The champagnes, the yellows, the blacks are selling very well. And they’re also quite affordable. Unlike the natural pinks and blues, which are out of reach for more people, the price point is still accessible. I think coloured diamonds have become popular in the media, too.”

Jennifer Lopez’s engagement ring is an example.
“Exactly. Her ring was exceptional and it was very expensive, but it brought the awareness that diamonds come in different colours. I’ve been working with colour since day one—doing cocktails rings, with colour on colour, etc.”

You were one of the featured designers in the gift lounge at the Toronto International Film Festival. How was that?
“It went really well. Jennifer Aniston, she loved our stuff. We had a few others looking as well, Samantha Bee and Kate Hudson.”

Is there any one fashionable person that you would love to work with?
“I love Julianne Moore. She’s got an amazing style. She carries things off with grace and she’s up-to-date, but not trendy. She has a really classic sense of style. I also like Charlize Theron. She always looks really bang on, but without being in your face. Not to mention, you know, she’s stunning.”

Is there anyone in the Canadian fashion community that you would do a runway show with?
“I was at the Afshin Feiz show and I really loved his stuff. I would be very interested in pairing with someone. It would be a little challenging though because my things are of a certain scale; they’re very stone focused, so in order to truly appreciate them on the runway it would have to be a special pairing, because from a distance they wouldn’t read quite as well as they would up close.”