GEM TALK WITH SVITLANA KOZLYUK, DIAMOND AMBASSADOR
The series of interviews with women and men who have personalities, story to tell and their own GEM style. They make it happen for themselves all over the world and follow GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla.
Name: Svitlana Kozlyuk
Alma Mater: London School of Economics
Occupation: Writer & Diamonds Ambassador
Hometown: Donetsk, Ukraine
LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW: Ascot. I tend to be old school when it comes to favourites. I like cosy townhouses with fireplaces, discretion and quiet spaces. 5 Hertford St, the Connaught, Joel Robuchon top the list. Having an hour in the greens of Hampstead Heath or Regents Park is a daily must. London can get very serious and it’s important to revive my inner child at the London Zoo, Hamleys and playgrounds.
IN THE BEGINNING: I perceived London as financial centre so when I moved here as a teenager I imagined myself to be connected to finance. While at school I met a banker in a book shop. He handed me George Soros’s biography and explained that he followed his footsteps into LSE’s Philosophy & Economics Bachelors. I got inspired. It was unimaginable not to pursue a finance career after LSE. It was important for me to be both secure and independent and I was very lucky to have achieved both with an added benefit of being in the company of intelligent and exciting personalities. I was so absorbed that pre-sunrise wake-ups and endless working hours were only slightly inconvenient. To keep the balance between analytical and emotional side of myself I regularly switched off into Vipassana retreats, attended Homeopathy Bachelors course at Regents College and trained for a professional dancer.
LONDON DEBUT: It’s said that the survivor is not the fittest but the one who adapts best. The financial crisis supercharged me to transform from finance professional into an entrepreneur and trusted advisor. The biggest challenge was finding ways to translate the experience from one field to the next and to operate on a shoe string. It was a drastic change from 600 people trading floor and seamless infrastructure into a one man self run office. Soon I found myself initiating and managing interesting projects in alternative investments, technology and NGO. It reinforced my confidence that my career path is far more exciting than I planned.
NAKED HEART FOUNDATION DEBUT: It wasn’t obvious how my involvement in the NGO world could be defined. At the time of joining Naked Heart Foundation it felt that my time, skill set, experience and network couldn’t be better invested. I looked at it as an exciting minefield of opportunities, which would bring about a real positive change on a large scale. It grew to be a role (Managing Director) that encompassed all aspects of my personality from emotional connection to children and staying fit with half-marathons, to operating in machine mode with finance, legal, admin and shining like an evening star at the events.
POWER COMES FROM: Integrity. Not being afraid to take what I need, leave what I don’t, accept and voice what I feel.
DIAMONDS: They sparkle and illuminate the darkest of the rooms. They are lightweight yet secure and pleasure to handle. I travel a lot and each time I prepare the luggage, electronics, documents, currencies etc. I think how wonderfully lightweight I’d feel if I could get by with just have diamonds on me.
JEWELLERY WORLD: Ambassador is a new word on my CV and it’s a natural progression from a Managing Director. I was invited into the diamonds and jewellery world by one of the most prominent diamond dealers in London who is also an avid supporter of Jessica McCormack. Since the moment I stepped into the House in Carlos Place it’s been an endless process of learning and discovery. It feels similar to mastering a foreign language with an added benefit of seeing and touching it. An all familiar feeling of intimidation upon entering a jewellery store is now gone. It’s there to be admired, inspired by and collected.
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL: I don’t like shopping and I like leaving empty spaces in my cupboard and in my suitcase for emergency buys. This keeps 80% of my wardrobe in Chanel category. 80% are dresses that can never be too many or too similar. Being slightly overdressed, overemphasising femininity and not compromising on elegance is an art. Trousers and jeans for me are only for last minute urgent calls. Rest of he time I devote to dresses. I’m very comfortable with classic styles and yet to experiment with masculine or eclectic looks. I buy clothes depending on the look and fabric quality rather than the brand so my closet is highly diversified. Among the wow pieces I like wearing are those of Roksanda Illincic, BCBG, Lanvin, A La Russe, Givenchy, Natalia Kaut, Elie Saab, Oscar de la Renta and Vionnet.
SHOP THE LOOK
ONLINE SHOPPING: I prefer the stores but every now and then I’ll shop online. It could be any secure looking website. I bought from Net-a-Porter, Etsy and other smaller sites. Some online jewellery stores are thriving. It’s great that the collections have been made more accessible to the consumers.
GEM STYLE: I like classic and art-deco styles. I like my jewellery to be wearable and feel as an extension of myself. I tend to wear long earrings and a couple of rings. Stone wise I go for diamonds and emeralds. I’m lucky to be an insider with access to incredible stones. I like rose gold. At some point I’d like to have nude pieces: pink diamonds set on rose gold. They would blend with the skin and only give a discrete spark. Jewellery box is certainly something a woman should have and regularly add to. I recently saw beautiful boxes by Linley. Its contents tell a lot about the person, their time and influences. My lifetime jewellery box will predominantly have bespoke pieces by jewellers I feel personally connected to (Sabine Roemer, Jessica McCormack, Maxim Voznesensky, Sevan Bicakci) alongside iconic pieces from Chaumet, Cartier, Harry Winston and Van Cleef and vintage masterpieces selected from Bentley & Skinner, Wartsky and boutiques in Burlington Arcade. I’d like to build a collection of stones, jewellery and jewelled objects. My favourite piece of jewellery is a tiara or a headpiece. It’s a good reminder that every woman is a queen! Sabina Roemer has incredible pieces in her Arabian night collection especially the falcon hood. It made me discover the tradition of rabbit hunting in Saudi Arabia and it’s on the list of things to do before I’m 50.
FIRST JEWELLERY: I was a child of USSR. It wasn’t customary to own jewellery and hardly anyone who did displayed it except for the wedding rings. It was even more unusual to gift jewellery to children. They’d usually start as graduation gifts. That said both me and my sister received a gold ring with a tiny diamond from our parents when I was about 8. Somehow it made us feel grown up and responsible to possess such a gift. It was dangerous to wear it outside so we admired it at home and wore it only during celebrations. Soon after my grandmother offered me a smiling gold sun with diamond eyes for my 10th birthday. It looks so positive and joyful that whenever I wear it I feel 10 years old again. Eastern Europeans can be very superstitious and I remember a period when we wore silver jewellery with stones according to astrological signs or their ‘energy’ composition and protective powers. I still like my moon stone and cat’s eye and there’s a room to design some edgy pieces with blackened gold and diamonds pave to compliment them.
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY: On a daily basis I’ll wear earrings, a couple of rings, a tennis bracelet next to a watch and perhaps a small pendant. I like simplicity and consistency of style and wouldn’t mix too many items unless they were of the same look and feel. I like sizeable stones and sometimes wear chunky pieces. Well designed setting is key to producing an elegant look with large stones. It’s an absolute must to balance jewellery with the clothes i.e. dress down if jewellery is a statement.
PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING: Perfect engagement ring would be the one offered with a man’s heart because of the message it conveys. Ideally there would be two: a statement and a miniature. A statement doesn’t need to be worn every day for public display. I’d rather have a bold statement that I’d wear in a security of my man alone. Design wise it’s a question of taste and it’s a great opportunity to create a connection with a family jeweller and create a first bespoke piece. Of the Bond Street engagement rings I’ve seen on display I liked Harry Winston’s Belle ring for its lightness and a few simple setting Graff pieces for the stones.
FINE JEWELLERY: For me fine jewellery shows artistry. It’s obvious to the naked eye if a piece has been created thoughtfully and with love. It might be artistry in the choice of stone, gold blend, setting technique or the design. Fine speaks complicity, unity of elements and quality of smallest details. When I look at pendants, bracelets and earrings I look at how well crafted and secure the lock is.
JEWELLERY AS AN INVESTMENT: Absolutely. Both material and emotional It’s as real as anything else inasmuch as it requires care, maintenance and an advisor. Similarly there are investment and co-financing opportunities in single stones. It’s certainly the most portable currency and historically has been among the most secure ways to pass the wealth onto future generations.
VINTAGE JEWELLERY: A lot can be learnt about society and culture from the patterns of vintage and antique pieces. A good collection should have a few vintage jewels. I inherited a couple of pieces from my grandmothers: rings with old diamond cuts and pendants with unpolished stones. I’ve seen some incredible pieces at Wartsky, Bentley & Skinner and at the auctions and there’s a list of items I’m planning to acquire soon.
FASHION JEWELLERY: I have little fashion jewellery (Hermes bracelets) that I received as gifts. I don’t really wear it. I prefer real jewellery.
PERFECT GETAWAY: There are a couple of unforgettable places that made me forget I was a European. Tibet monasteries stay and pilgrimage to Kailas, India’s 51 day panchakarma retreat in Kerala and camping alongside lamas on Machu Picchu trail in Peru. Capri, Corsica and the Aeolian Islands are real gems I’d go to any minute. London is my favourite city and English countryside is unbeatable whether I’m staying at the farm or in a castle.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT: Smile
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE: Words
WILD WISH: Take off into the sky and peek over the horizon.
GEMOLOGUE by Liza Urla features exquisite global discoveries, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews – a celebration of fine jewellery, fashion jewellery and vintage jewellery.
*Photographed by Liza Urla.
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