One look at Olivia Bond’s home, and it’s easy to see how the gemmologist and mother of two girls has carved a career from all things that sparkle. From the dreamiest walk-in-robe we’ve seen to muted green furnishings that compliment the internal greenhouse ever so perfectly, it’s all about attention to detail that makes this stylish mum’s choice in career and home so special...
“My grandmother was actually a gemmologist too so I used to chat about it with her a bit as a child and I suppose that piqued my interest initially. Both of my grandmothers were quite glam and had the most fabulous and interesting jewellery collections, as does my mother. I used to spend hours playing with it when we visited them,” explains Olivia of the path that lead to her own gemmology career today. The Tamsin Johnson-designed home is a testament to Olivia’s respect and admiration for pieces with history and quality, a sentiment that is also reflected in her work with jewels and her aptly-named business Olivia Bond Diamonds. After working for the likes of Sotheby’s in London, she saw a gap in the local market that allowed her to focus on quality gemstones minus the luxury price tag while still caring for her daughter Lulu full time. Now, after the birth of her second daughter Sybella, Olivia is also launching Lush & Bond, a fine jewellery line with business partner Gemma Lush set to hit shelves early next year. So how do the demands of motherhood fit into this busy mum’s day-to-day schedule? “I plan my week out in my calendar and make sure I am using my child-free time as effectively as possible. This allows me to be really present when I’m with my children, something I think is very important but getting more and more difficult with the way smartphones can intrude on our downtime!” Read on to hear how Olivia favours routine when it comes to parenting, why shopping for a diamond online is never a good idea, and how she’s managed to create the ultimate living space that blends warmth, style and family seamlessly (hint: antique furniture, dimly-lit Jo Malone London candles and toy storage can coexist!). Photography: Grace Alyssa Kyo | Words: Marisa Remond | Go to www.oliviabonddiamonds.com and www.lushandbond.com
SHOP: Jo Malone London Velvet Rose & Oud Home Candle 200g, $120; Jo Malone London Red Roses Home Candle 200gg, $88; Jo Malone London Red Roses Scent Surround Diffuser, $122; Antique mirror from The Country Trader; Custom coffee table designed by Tamsin Johnson. Olivia wears Gucci top and pants and Chloé slides
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Diligent, optimistic, practical.
What has motherhood taught you?
Where to begin! As a new mother I have had to face many of my fears and surrender to something unknown and a little out of my control, and I think ultimately that has been very good for me. You build character and resilience, learn patience, compassion, selflessness and above all learn the true meaning of unconditional love. I think my girls teach me something every day. You also appreciate other mothers so much more, particularly my own mother, who is so incredibly supportive and doesn’t mind me calling her five times a day when I need advice (she lives in Perth).
Has motherhood changed you? If so, how?
I think motherhood has made me a stronger person. As beautiful as it is, every mother knows it’s hard too. Also, particularly having girls, I think it’s my (and my husband’s) responsibility to raise them with healthy attitudes around gender roles and relationships, so I want to make sure I provide them with a strong role model. This means I have become better at checking in on my own behaviour and language, and am always thinking about how I can improve and evolve. Having children is like holding up a mirror to yourself sometimes and it makes you realise how important it is to behave in a way that sets them up with the right attitudes and respect for others and themselves.
What has been the most challenging part of motherhood and how have you overcome any challenges?
I found the early months of my first baby incredibly overwhelming. Looking back, I think it was mainly because I put pressure on myself to still keep my pre-baby life as it was. Of course, that didn’t happen and it made me feel like I’d failed, as silly as that might sound. With my second baby, I learned to be much easier on myself and it has comparatively been a breeze! Also, this time around I am not afraid to ask for or accept help. If people offer I say ‘yes please!’ rather than trying to do it all by myself and pretend that I have it all under control all the time.
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing?
I find I gravitate naturally towards healthy, unprocessed foods because I eat to feel good rather than it being about losing weight or whatever. It is really more of a lifestyle choice for me. I really enjoy home cooking and making healthy nourishing food for myself and my family. Having said that I am all for indulgences too, it’s just about finding that balance. I also have a slightly worrying addiction to Alter Eco chocolate (a hangover from my second pregnancy) but I am working on that one! I find that I barely sit down in the day running around after two little ones and so I don’t feel the need to do masses of cardio the way I did when I was working at a desk every day, however I am a serious Pilates addict. We need to be physically strong to care for and carry babies day in, day out. Pilates is also good for strengthening the muscles around the spine and protecting it, us mums don’t have time for back problems!
SHOP: Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Luxury Candle, $600; Custom chairs in Boyac linen; Josef Hoffmann leather couch; mirrored coffee table from The Country Trader; Olivia wears Adam Lippes T-shirt and Pucci skirt
What are some vivid memories of your childhood?
My husband Jeremy and I both grew up in Perth. It is very different to Sydney (where we live currently) in many ways but one thing that both cities have in common is a strong beach culture. The home where I grew up is by the beach and when I think of my childhood I just think of being in the water and playing in the sand. Perth is much less populated and so the vibe there is completely different, a lot more space, more relaxed and easy going, the majority of families have big backyards. Our family also spent a lot of time in Margaret River in our little (but charming!) rammed earth cottage and my sister and I would just spend time out in nature, trying to catch tadpoles in the river at the bottom of our property or just playing in the bushland. I actually asked my mum about it the other day like ‘weren’t you worried a snake was going to bite us!?’ But I think it is so important for children to spend time outdoors like that. I hope to give my children that experience wherever possible.
You’re a gemmologist running your own business, can you tell us how your career with jewels began?
My grandmother was actually a gemmologist too so I used to chat about it with her a bit as a child and I suppose that piqued my interest initially. Both of my grandmothers were quite glam and had the most fabulous and interesting jewellery collections, as does my mother. I used to spend hours playing with it when we visited them. Years later I began working at Sotheby’s in London and although I enjoyed all of the exhibitions I completely fell in love with the jewellery auctions! We moved back to Sydney and I began a diploma in gemmology and loved every minute of it. A lot of people think it is just playing around with gemstones but it is actually very scientific and I totally immersed myself in it. I then followed it up with a diamond grading course and a jewellery valuing course. During this time I was working in the jewellery industry and noticed that there was a gap in the market for clients who wanted to buy beautiful quality gemstones without the price tag of a luxury brand. By this point I was pregnant so I decided it would make sense for me to start my own business that I could do from home while also being a full-time mum, so that’s how Olivia Bond Diamonds came about.
Can you name the most treasured piece of jewellery you own and why?
One of the reasons I love jewellery is because we attach so much emotional significance to it. Our mothers and grandmothers pass their jewellery on to us and we treasure it in the hope that we can pass it on, in turn, to our loved ones. It creates a special sense of history and lineage but also evolution as we attach our own stories to each piece and jewellery to the collection. When we wear jewellery, we’re reminded of something important in our lives or of a special memory or person I think this concept is so fascinating, it doesn’t happen to the same extent with any of our other material possessions. There are theories that suggest humans have been wearing jewellery for 75,000 years. It is an important part of our culture and everyone’s jewellery tells a story. I have several treasured pieces that I wear every day because each piece reminds me of something important. I hope to pass these on to my daughters one day so that they can attach their own memories to them and create their own stories.
What are the top points to consider when choosing a diamond?
A lot of my clients are men looking to buy diamonds for engagement rings. They usually feel daunted by the process and a little out of their depth, so I help to guide them and ensure they are getting value for money. There is a lot to know about what to look for and what to avoid, but I would say it is always a good idea to get a second opinion and to shop around. There are small details that can bring the value of a stone down substantially so it is best to do your research. Also, don’t buy online, and if it seems to good to be true, it probably is!
SHOP: Custom bed head in Kelly Wearstler fabric; Teepee from Puddle Duck Toys; Antique bedside tables
How do you juggle your children with work– how do you make it work for you?
It isn’t always easy, and I don’t always get it right. However, I think it is important just to multitask wherever possible and stay organised. I plan my week out in my calendar and make sure I am using my child-free time as effectively as possible. This allows me to be really present when I’m with my children, something I think is very important but getting more and more difficult with the way smartphones can intrude on our downtime!
How would you describe your approach to parenting?
I am a big routine person, both for myself and for my children. We all seem to benefit from it and I think my kids are happier knowing what is happening each day and knowing what to expect. It is important to set boundaries as well but sometimes you just have to pick your battles, especially with toddlers. I find the best way to deal with tantrums is to try to anticipate them so they don’t happen in the first place if I can. Once they take hold, there is not much you can do other than wait them out. Lulu and Sybella have a strong mutual admiration for each other, which is so beautiful to see, but there is still a lot to be learnt regarding sharing!
Motherhood is all about prioritising – what do you prioritise and what do you let slide?
I find that sometimes I just need to go into ‘survival mode.’ for example, when I have a newborn, am sleep deprived or the children are sick. In these instances, I find I just need to conserve energy by simplifying things as much as possible and removing any non-urgent jobs from my to-do list until we are back on track. I always try to prioritise healthy eating for my whole family, as things just seem to go from bad to worse when you fill up on junk (read: tantrums). I also am a big fan of a 7pm bedtime for the girls, so no matter how exhausting my day has been I know I have that calm time to eat dinner with my husband and relax.
You’ve recently redecorated your new home, can you tell us a little about the process and how you combine a love of interiors with keeping things (relatively) child-friendly?
We didn’t actually plan on moving when we did (Sybella was four weeks old when we bought the house) but we had always wanted to live on this street and when the opportunity arose we grabbed it. I would like to take credit for the beautiful interiors however they are a result of Tamsin’s incredible talent, as well as a friend of mine who has an amazing eye and helped me buy some treasured antique pieces. The way that the house is structured means that just about all of the playing, eating, craft activities and general mess making is done in the informal area near the kitchen, so it can usually be contained quite easily. I try to keep toys organised and I always put them all away at the end of the day so that we can start the next morning fresh. The rest of the living areas are more for entertaining our friends, which is something we really enjoy doing, and also Lulu loves to play hide and seek!
Custom brass pendant light; Custom linen beach ball cushions; Olivia wears Adam Lippes T-shirt, Prada skirt and Miu Miu shoes; Children wear Jacadi
How do you use accessories at home to create a sense of warmth?
We love to entertain at home whenever we can, and I find that lighting beautiful quality scented candles creates a welcoming atmosphere. I am also a bit flower obsessed so I like to fill my house with flowers as often as possible. I find simple things like these can brighten a difficult day and lift your mood.
What’s the last thing you bought for your home and yourself?
My next project for my home is the playroom so I have just bought some sweet Oeuf NYC toy storage shelves and children’s table and chairs. The last thing I bought myself is my black diamond bead necklace that I designed with my business partner Gemma Lush. We are planning on launching our fine jewellery line Lush & Bond early next year, so watch this space!
What’s your favourite thing to do as a family, what does a typical weekend look like?
We spend a lot of time at home on weekends relaxing together as a family, as the weeks are so busy with everyone having their own program. In summer we do love to go to the beach whenever we can. Matteo in Double Bay is a favourite for early dinner with the girls, the food is so delicious and it is super child-friendly, they will even let the little ones help to make their own pizzas.
What’s the best piece of advice you could tell someone who’s about to embark on parenthood?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. There are going to be bad days, but you just need to get through them however you can and remind yourself that the chances are tomorrow is going to be much better. Also, be compassionate towards other mothers and don’t judge, they might be having a hard time and sometimes it just takes a small kindness or an ‘I’ve been there ‘ look to make someone’s day a little easier.
Olivia's little list of loves:
- Pilates – I love reformer at Pilates Physique in Edgecliff or One Hot Yoga in Potts Point.
- WelleCo protein powder – I blend this with banana and almond milk and have it for breakfast every day. It energises me for the day (even on minimal sleep) and I can drink it while also feeding children!
- Date nights with my husband – 10 William Street and Saint Peter (both in Paddington) are favourites.
- Cuddles in bed with my girls first thing in the morning.
- Jewellery auctions – scouring global auctions and finding rare and interesting pieces is a passion.
- Reading – we used to have several TVs in the house and when we moved decided to get rid of them all except one… I find reading is so much more rewarding, I love almost all genres and look forward to that hour to unwind before bed.
- Scented candles – lighting the room with a beautifully scented candle.
- Travel – although more challenging with children, still so worthwhile to inspire and remind me how big and complex the world is. We have a family trip to Japan planned for February which we are so looking forward to!
- The incredible women in my life, family and friends, who inspire me and advise me every day.
- Morris cafe in Paddington – the most delicious and healthy lunches, the cookies are also heavenly.
- Fluffy shoes – a strange obsession!