Hollie Bonneville-Barden collection at De Beers Diamond is poetry in motion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 10:22am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 2014, 10:22am

She's already been hailed a "jewellery prodigy" by W magazine, but to meet the head designer of De Beers Diamond Jewellers, Hollie Bonneville Barden, is to realise just how youthful she is. And the manner in which the 27-year-old Welsh wunderkind landed such a lofty role with one of the largest jewellery houses on the planet is a tale in itself.

"First I was approached by a former tutor of mine from Central Saint Martins," she says of the London university whose alumni include Stella McCartney, Bruce Oldfield and John Galliano among others.

"She had been in touch with De Beers, and knowing the brand's requests and requirements, my tutor recommended me, knowing that I possessed the skills and the spirit that De Beers was looking for."

Bonneville Barden was home in Hay-on-Wye, a small market town in Wales, when she got the call from De Beers. She immediately grabbed her portfolio and flew to London. A couple of meetings later, she had the job.

That journey has led to her De Beers Aria collection, a sparkling catalogue filled with rings, cuffs, pendants and bracelets with a running motif of fluidity and motion.

"The whole creation process for this collection took 18 months, with six months dedicated to design. It required absolute focus on the project and constant communication with the workshop craftsmen to ensure a true realisation of the concept from my sketches to reality."

With swirls and curves and diamond studded flourish, the collection is filled with a sense of movement.

A look at her design portfolio reveals drawings that range from technical interpretations to more creative elaborations that bring the vibrancy of diamonds into focus.

"When we were first creating the De Beers coffee table book, for which the objective was to bring to life the romance and creativity of the brand, it was a chance for me to illustrate the existing collections in a creative way. So I was approached as someone who had the necessary drawing skills, as well as someone whose own aesthetics resonated with those of the brand."

Now as head designer, she creates unique pieces for a worldwide clientele all too familiar with the brand and its rich legacy. But in a saturated market studded with a long roster of brands, is bespoke design the way to go for high-end jewellery?

"Bespoke jewellery is an wonderful opportunity for connoisseurs to create a unique design for themselves, as well as discover the full beauty of a beautiful and rare diamond," she says.

"Often, our clients have a vision of beauty, but may not have the skills to articulate themselves graphically, so this is where I help them fulfil the potential of the design.

"We have clients all over the world, but the Asian clients certainly display discerning taste as diamond connoisseurs, most likely due to the strong history of the appreciation of jewellery and gems in the culture.

"If ever people ask me for advice, I tell them it is important when you select a piece of jewellery that you are first and foremost inspired by the diamond's natural beauty.

"Diamond jewellery is a very personal expression so I encourage people to look at as many diamonds as possible, because this will allow them to better distinguish characteristics of different stones as a miracle of mother nature, and thereafter discover a style that best suits them.

"It is very important to recognise one's own style as a starting point and try on as many different pieces as possible. A beautiful diamond will choose you, just as you choose the diamond, too."