What I Know About Style

Vania Leles

Vanleles Diamonds


Gemologist Vania Leles on diamonds versus costume jewellery and model gossip

What sparked your passion for diamonds and gemstones?

I have always loved sparkling jewels. However, my passion for diamonds and gemstones really started while working as a fashion model in New York. I remember being in a photo shoot with an exquisite piece of fine jewellery and feeling mesmerised by the pure beauty of fine jewellery. My interest led me to study diamonds and gemstones at the GIA in New York and London.

Can you tell us any backstage gossip?

Life backstage was so hectic that no-one really had the time to notice much. I was focused on trying to keep myself away from the food and the Champagne, but one piece of gossip: models eat cupcakes!

Are diamonds really a girl’s best friend or do you have a lot of male clients, too (buying for themselves, that is)?

We do have a large proportion of male clients but they mainly buy for their loved ones and for investment purposes. When our male customers buy for themselves, they typically order bespoke diamond cufflinks, diamond stud earrings, and either fine or very elaborate bespoke diamond rings. Men buying diamonds for themselves is definitely a growing trend, in line with the trend of men taking better care of themselves and caring more about their appearance.

Are there any celebs you would you like to design a piece of jewellery for?

I love broaches and you will always see me wearing one. My dream would be to design a diamond broach for HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge. I have noticed that she has yet to have her own custom diamond broach made. So far most of her jewellery are heirlooms from the House of Windsor.

It would also be a dream come true to design for Michelle Obama. For The First Lady I would perhaps design a demure, understated pendant with two diamonds symbolising the two centres of her world: Miss Sasha ad Miss Malia.

Do you collect anything (other than jewellery)?

I collect beautiful exotic butterflies from all over the world. I keep them safely and individually framed. I think I must have most species available, almost competing with the Natural History Museum. I also collect broaches with butterfly and insect designs.

What’s your view on costume jewellery?

I like costume jewellery but sometimes I find it too much. For me, less is more, so fine jewellery will always be my favourite.

However, costume jewellery is convenient and fun for when we are travelling or walking around town. Coco Chanel revolutionised the way we wear and buy costume jewellery.

What is the most interesting piece of jewellery you have come across?

Having worked for Sotheby’s and Graff, I must say that it was a privilege to have been exposed to many interesting pieces of jewellery. I was also part of the team that auctioned a superb 27-carat pink diamond, referred to as The Graff Pink.

A month ago I was privileged enough to be invited to help prepare a jewellery inventory for a very distinguished and wealthy lady in London. When I arrived at her vault I was mesmerised. No one has seen her jewellery collection in the last 58 years…

What is your favourite precious gemstone and your favourite cut of diamond and why?

Diamond first and pearl second. For the diamond cut I am always torn between round brilliant or cushion cut.

What’s your life philosophy?

Be the nicest person you can. Be kind and gracious and respect people and their opinion, even when you don’t agree with them and even when you don’t know them. Smile, love and give.

Vanleles Diamonds, 2 Eaton Gate, Belgravia, London, SW1W; www.vanleles.com; info@VanLeles.com; 07967 451 231; by appointment only

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