Aurum Jewels is a family business run by husband and wife, Brigitte and Tony Zollo, and their two children. Their business story is one of family strength, fearless opportunistic entrepreneurialism and skill.
Q: You’ve had Aurum Jewels since 2002. What did you do in your careers beforehand?
A: Brigitte worked for Ann Middleton’s Chez Jewels for 17 years as a valuer, a gemmologist, and sales. I [Tony] had been the marketing manager for a builder, designed houses, published catalogues, and advertising. I was also a real estate investor and enjoyed stock market success. I retired from my real estate marketing role in 1997, so I had the enthusiasm and finance for something new.
Q: How did Aurum Jewels come about?
A: Brigitte had just retired from her then part-time role at Chez Jewels, the kids were growing up, and her confidence was all the insight I needed to invest. I didn’t know much about jewellery, I just tried to be the partner she was to me in my career by being her partner in the jewellery enterprise. There were some setbacks and some good fortune, and together we had great support. Now, it’s an organic family business with the kids having important roles too, which is satisfying, speaking as a parent.
Q: Brigitte is has been a Jewellery Stylist for near 30 years. What does that entail?
A: A stylist is an expert in adornment, in every aspect. It starts with the knowledge and passion for gemstones. The most important is, undoubtedly, the thousands of years of craft and experience in history. Think Tutankhamen and Cleopatra in Egypt, Sheba, the Celts, the history of gold jewellery in South America’s fabulous civilizations. Precious metals and gemstone jewellery have a very long history that is accumulated cultural capital.
In a sense, it’s something that, through your knowledge and experience with your clients, that suppliers, manufacturing jewellers, traders, consociates and contemporaries elect you to.
Q: What do you look for in the brands that you stock?
A: Brands are so diverse that you can never have more than a limited sample of their entire range. Often, you see the pieces with your clients in mind. You need the self-confidence to be reliant on your own judgement. High end jewellery will never be ‘common’, if only because it is expensive. It’s something you can pass on to your children.
A handmade gemstone piece set in 18 carat gold from Copenhagen by a renowned designer will always be rarer and more interesting than mass reproduced, functional jewellery. We will stock the former, and never the latter, which you can probably buy from your hairdresser!
Q: How do you source those brands, and the pieces? Do you travel?
A: It’s funny that you ask about travel, because we always thought that a jewellery shop owner has a right, nay, an obligation to travel extensively. Nevertheless, despite the occasional holiday that coincides with a jewellery destination, it’s largely been immaterial.
Q: What do you love about working in this industry?
A: It’s Brigitte’s passion that just might survive us, and be a role for subsequent generations, it would be nice to think so.