GEM TALK WITH JULIA CASTELLI, JEWELLERY CONNOISSEUR
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: Julia Castelli
Alma Mater: Master Degree in Economics, Graduate Diamond Diploma
Occupation: Founder of Julia Castelli Lifestyle Management, a lifestyle management boutique-firm based in London but operating globally. On one side, we work with private clients and source for them anything they may need-jewellery, art, fashion, racing horses, etc. On the other side, we organise small tailor-made exclusive events for luxury brands (jewellery houses, fashion houses, art galleries, etc.)
Hometown: London, UK or The World
LOCATION AT TIME OF INTERVIEW: Bali, Indonesia: I am here for two purposes. Firstly, promoting Bochic and looking for a potential venue for a very exciting new project involving social media, as well as getting acquainted with a luxury resort- Ayana Resort and Spa and their Residences. Places I hang out around- Rock Bar Bali with its amazing location on the rocks overlooking Ayana’s private Kubu beach with spectacular views I can’t get enough of. Other favourite restaurants – Metis, La Lucciola and La Favela. Favorite Coffeeshop: Bali Catering Company and Livingstone. Favourite Shops: Biasa, Paul Ropp – for clothing. The Potato’s Head Beach shop – for beach wear. Favourite Gallery: Tonyraka Art Gallery in Ubud.
UPPER EAST OR TRIBECA: Definitely Upper East. I used to live in Manhattan for 5 years, on the Upper East Side, close to the East River. I used to love running in the morning in Carl Schultz Park along the river. Favourite places to eat: The Vinegar Factory for Saturday and Sunday brunch. Such a cool place; cheese Blintzes are my favorite! Maz Mezcal- a small neighborhood Mexican restaurant where they make the best frozen mango margaritas in the world! Spas: I like Bliss, The Red Door (Elizabeth Arden) and the spas at Bergdorf Goodman (my close friend is managing the Natura Bisse there and their facials are the best!). I like that there are so many nail salons on every corner and open until midnight. Some of them serve wine or champagne, which is a really nice as an end of day experience. This is a weekly ritual for all the women in NY. Other favourite restaurants: Cafe Boulud, Park Avenue cafe, Lady M is the best cake place in NY it’s on Madison Avenue, Elio’s on 2nd avenue (you can see Woody Allan every time you go there). Galleries: Gagosian gallery, Waterhouse and Dodd gallery, Leila Heller gallery.
IN THE BEGINNING: Looking back, I still remember when I arrived in New York in 2001, with a freshly issued Masters in Economics, I was thinking the only career a woman with economics degree could have is in banking… Luckily I took a different path. By pure chance or by the wish of destiny, I ended up working in a jewellery boutique, Soho Gem, on Madison Avenue in NYC. My closest friend, Radi, worked there but she was getting married and was planning to leave. She introduced me to the family that owned the boutique and I got the job. I learned a lot on the job, and read books about the gems, because they fascinated me. This is how I fell in love with jewellery and fell under the spell of the gems for life.
NYC DEBUT: In 2001 I started working at Soho Gem and spent two years there. Next job was at Chanel where I was hired as a sales specialist. I won multiple awards and was the top sales producer at the time. Very quickly I was headhunted by Chopard Fine Jewellery as a Manager. I loved my job at Chopard, where I initially worked as a Sales Specialist, then as a Manager. After a while, for personal reasons, I moved to London.
LONDON DEBUT: I moved to London in August 2005, and soon afterwards I was already working as a Manager of the Asprey boutique at Harrods. After a few months, I moved to my next job as a Sales Director at Leviev on Bond Street. I was very lucky to work directly with Mr Leviev and learn a lot from him. The job was very interesting; I was travelling a lot – St Tropez, Monte Carlo, Almaty, Moscow. I have great stories to tell. But this is for another chat… In 2007 I have started my own business. It started as a jewellery personal shopping venture but soon enough my clients transformed my business into a lifestyle management firm since they were asking for much more than simply finding them jewellery – fashion items, hard to find items, art, real estate, event organising, even racing horses! They wanted someone whom they can trust and call any time of the day/week: someone loyal, discreet, professional and reliable. It was very scary at the start because of all the uncertainties, but all the more rewarding because of the path I took.
TOPSHOP OR CHANEL: I love to mix designer brands with high street brands. I love to be different all the time. One day I dress very classic, the next I am very trendy. My favorite brands are Valentino, Ermanno Scervino, Chanel, Chloe, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney. From the high street brands I like Zara and sometimes Topshop. Most of all I like shopping in small boutiques in Italy, Bulgaria or anywhere in the world. I adore discovering something unusual. My mum is sometimes my best stylist. She has a great eye and taste for clothing and accessories. I also love sports wear (Adidas by Stella McCartney, Reebok, Lululemon, Sweaty Betty) and buy very colorful outfits for my sports activities: tennis, gym, running, swimming. I just got hooked on Barrecore and waiting to join the new class of Darcey Bussell-DDMIX.
GEM STYLE: Jewellery for me is about Expression, Power, Style, Femininity and Confidence. It is something very personal: something that defines you and compliments you. It completes your outfit. It puts a sparkle in your eyes. A stone can be very powerful. It has a story to tell: either it comes with an inherent story or we can create its story by wearing it. It will absorb the emotions we experience while wearing it, it will be associated with them and the places we have been while wearing it. A stone is emotional, strong, sensual and mesmerizing. Similar to clothes, I like to wear different styles in jewellery. One day classical jewellery, the next very trendy and cool. I like playful and feminine jewellery, as well as big and bold: I am confident enough to wear any piece of jewellery. However in order to wear it with pleasure, I need to like it. I am fortunate enough to be able to wear any jewellery I want (perhaps, apart from the Crown Jewels): I work with world-known jewellery brands, young designers, wholesalers and diamond dealers across different countries and continents. I attend a lot of events (as well as organising some of them) and when I wear a beautiful piece of jewellery, I feel amazing. I receive compliments, which make me happy: this is exactly what a piece of jewellery is meant to do for you – bring happiness!
FIRST JEWELLER: The first piece of fine jewellery I bought for myself while working at my first jewellery job was a pair of yellow sapphire and diamond earrings. I still wear them and feel good because I know I have worked for them, and they have a story to tell – my beginning in the complex world of jewellery. My favourite piece of jewellery is an all diamond Chopard watch I bought for myself for my 29th birthday. Once I had an amazing shopping spree at Garrard – I managed to attend a sample sale with 90% discount – where I bought half a dozen pieces of jewellery. I wear them a lot to this day. Plus let’s face it, I work with so many designers, I do get amazing prices for the pieces I like, and sometimes I even get gifted pieces of jewellery. Did I mention I love my job?!
MY EVERYDAY JEWELLERY: I like white and yellow gold, but I might like rose gold even more! For everyday I tend to wear more simple pieces with very few diamonds unless I am organising one of my promotional jewellery events. In this case I put on the biggest and most beautiful pieces notwithstanding what time of the day it is. Apart from diamonds, I like coloured stones-rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. I also love the Paraiba tourmaline: it is so beautiful and produced only in one mine in the world, in Brazil. I like opals and pearls. One of my clients is Yoko London, a jewellery brand that specializes in pearls. Next on my project list is to go with the owner of the brand on an expedition to a pearls farm to see the amazing process of the birth of those spectacular creatures of Mother Nature. One lucky lady who would want a bespoke piece of jewellery will come with us on this trip to personally select the perfect pearls for her new jewellery piece. It will be an amazing bespoke experience.
ROLEX OR CARTIER: I have a few watches: Chopard, Cartier, Chanel and a few Swatches. I wear them for different occasions. My Chopard one is definitely a statement and accessory piece. Who can even see the time from all the diamonds!
FINE JEWELLERY: Fine jewellery is quality jewellery with diamonds and precious/semi-precious stones and made out of gold or platinum. Since I am spoilt for choice, to own a piece of jewellery, I need to fall in love with it. My favourite brands are Bochic, Chanel Fine Jewellery, Chatila, David Morris, Moussaieff, and Cantik Chantik.
JEWELLERY AS AN INVESTMENT: I strongly believe in jewellery as investment. Its value always goes up, especially pure white diamonds of top quality and coloured diamonds. I do source quite often for clients exactly this type of diamonds-the ones they put in safes.
COLOURED DIAMONDS: I adore coloured diamonds and I specialise in sourcing them. I have sold pinks, blues, greens, yellows. A coloured diamond is a great piece to have and especially good for investment – they never go down in price!
VINTAGE JEWELLERY: I like vintage jewellery as a concept but I don’t wear it personally and prefer the newly bought pieces. Also in my business, I don’t get that many enquiries about vintage pieces. Maybe one day, when I have more free time – when children are older -I will get to learn more about it and get to share my knowledge with my clients.
FASHION JEWELLERY: I wear a lot of fashion jewellery. Fashion jewellery compliments the outfit especially well if it is correctly selected. I like Miriam Salat, a very cool New York brand.
THE FUTURE OF JEWELLERY: I am certain jewellery will be part of our future. I expect what is trendy and cool today will be the vintage of tomorrow. There will be exciting developments in the jewellery industry-creating stones, new shapes, new cuts, new designs, high tech: iWatch already exists, why not create the I-ring, I-earrings, I-necklace, etc.
POWER COMES FROM: Power comes from confidence. Confidence comes from experience and knowledge.
PERFECT GETAWAY: I travel a lot generally but in the last 7 months I have visited 8 countries: Bali, Indonesia -Ayana Resort is my favourite. Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur (Mandarin Oriental) and in the Island of Langkawi – Berjaya Resort. Cambodia-Raffles Hotel. Mauritius -The Westin Turtle bay Hotel and Spa. Dubai -The Oberoi. Italy-Principe di Savoia in Milan and Belmond Villa San Michele in Florence. Bulgaria – Dune in Sunny Beach. Favourite Spas: Milan – Armani Spa, London – Spa Illuminata, UK – the Spa in Danesfield Hotel and Spa and the Spa at Cleveden House
MY WEAPON OF CHOICE: Charm, smile, positive attitude, and confidence. I try to be grateful every day for the life I have and the great opportunities I have in front of me. I am lucky to be able to see the glass always half full.
WILD WISH: To visit all the amazing places in the world-pink and green sand beaches, the red beach in China, climb mountains, go to very remote places, experience other countries and peoples’ cultures. Help other women and children, who are less fortunate. Write a blog about my amazing life journey, the people, the places and the jewellery I encountered and continue to do so on daily basis.
I would love to hear what you think by leaving me a comment below. Thank you!
SHOP MY FAVOURITE JEWELRY ONLINE:
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery.
GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.
Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Photographed by Julia Flit. Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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