Jewels To Gems: A One On One With Brisbane's Most Iconic Jewellers

Jewels To Gems: A One On One With Brisbane's Most Iconic Jewellers

What a gem!

By Fiona Williams | 7th August 2019

Leader of the dazzling diamond industry and CEO of Wallace Bishop Jewellers, Stuart Bishop let us in on his much-loved family business.

Where did your journey start? Where did you grow up?

There’s no doubt that I’m a Brisbane bloke through and through, growing up in Kenmore’s western barbeque belt where I still live to this day. I got my hands on mechanics growing up, fixing equipment for the family’s farm and restoring old cars – you could say creative craftsmanship has been a part of my blood ever since I could carry a spanner.

Did you study to become a world class jeweller?

Since diamonds were in the family business, my father Wallace Bishop sent me to the U.S. to start my Gemological Institute of America (GIA) short term apprenticeship in diamonds and diamond grading once I finished school. From Israel to India, I travelled the world working with precious gems and rare stones straight from the earth, picking up expert tips and tricks I continue to leverage today.

What are your stand out career highlights?

Being a part of my family’s Queensland owned business for 33 years has been both rewarding and significant. The first diamond I cut whilst in Israel was used as a competition piece and won the 1997 De Beers Australian Diamond Facets Supreme Design Award for my design of a 5.35-carat Princess Cut Diamond set inverted in platinum. Another was when Wallace Bishop Jewellers purchased Hardy Brothers, and when we did along came with it the rights to manufacture The Melbourne Cup Trophy.

Where has your job taken you around the world?

I’ve been lucky to travel to all over the world from Israel to India and America to Europe. When I started my career in jewellery making, I went to Switzerland and learned every detail there is to know about watch making. When I was doing my diamond grading apprenticeship, I developed a bespoke series of jewellery using solid gold with an Italian designer who I am still friends with today. We used heavy equipment to compress gold and make strong bangles. I started out making these for my wife – instead of diamond bracelets I made her these solid gold bangles with diamonds set into it. What I found in the industry in casting is that the gold was still too soft, and the gold was fragile, the best way to do it is compressing. It’s more expensive but the quality surpasses many pieces out there today. My wife has had her bangle now for 25 years.

Do you find it challenging to design pieces for yourself or someone close to you?

Very much so. You almost aren’t sure where to begin when trying to fit everything into one little thing. I am always wanting to prove myself in these pieces and it’s always a challenge working on such special projects.

What is the toughest part of your role?

It’s finding the right people. At Wallace Bishop we have a long average tenure. Last year we gave out 12 awards to people who have been working with us for over 25 years ranging from watch spare parts to the warehouse, senior accounts and jewellery making. Looking for people who have the same passion as a family business can be challenging as it’s very different to a normal business.

Tell us about the most stand out diamonds you’ve ever worked with?

I sold three Argyle pink diamonds/tender pieces to one sole customer. One diamond for each of his daughters. It was pretty exciting. I sold the loose diamonds, which were cut by Argyle. They were bought in a silent auction, we put our bid on and won. It was a massively exciting experience for me to be able to put that all together. The Argyle diamonds are some of the most esteemed diamonds in the world and winning a tender and having the opportunity to pass them onto a client is a rare career achievement.

 

Quick fire questions….

Next holiday? Greece
Fashion Style? The Cloak Room
Dining? Hellenika at the Calile
Coffee? Salt, Newstead
Movie? Bohemian Rhapsody

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Article by Fiona Williams

Fiona is a Journalist and Food Writer who grew up in Adelaide. From Sydney to Brisbane to Canberra and now back to Brisbane, she now calls our wonderful city home. She’s a beauty fanatic obsessed with rose hip oil and she’s definitely made up of at least 80% dry shampoo. A lifelong campaigner against the word ‘good’, Fi (as she likes to be called) loves nothing more than using juicy adjectives and putting honey in her tea.