Husband and wife team Monette and David Blackborow of Antheas answer in unison when asked what it's like working together every day. "We're best friends!" say the couple. Which is probably just as well, because not only do they live and work together but they have recently undertaken a major refurbishment of the shop which has all been designed and styled by Monette.
Antheas has a wonderful feel to it. What's behind the revamp?
David: We're in a transition period. We wanted to make our mark on the shop, as well as to reflect and stay in keeping with our style of jewellery. Classic, clean lines, fresh, light and bright.
Monette: Our nod to the brand's history is the colour - we call it Antheas Aqua - which was the colour of the original Antheas shop. A heritage colour that is very soft and calm yet also light and uplifting.
Where does the name come from?
Monette: The shop was named after my mother, Anthea.
So it's a real family affair?
Monette: It is! I am the 3rd generation jeweller; my dad Murray has been in the trade for 55 years, firstly at Reins Jewellers under his own father, Frank Smith, and then after buying and subsequently selling Reins, mum and dad opened Antheas in 1980.
Is Murray still involved in the business?
Monette: Ha, just try stopping him! David and I have taken the helm, and dad is semi-retired... but as he says "you're born into the trade and you don't just leave it".
Did you always know you'd end up designing jewellery for the family business?
Monette: I think so. From a very young age I've spent time at the shop so I grew up around jewellery. I knew I would end up doing something design related. I have to say it's my favourite aspect of my work. I have had great success with my Bow Range which I have developed further for our official re-opening.
Does Antheas focus on a particular style of jewellery?
David: We still have the timeless classics and we're introducing themed charms; there's a gardening range, one for cooks, and an exquisite handbag range. We've also designed and made a range of baby and christening gifts, as well as gents' cufflinks and tie pins.
Monette: We carry a huge array of loose precious stones so that our clients can really be a part of the design process, starting with choosing their gem.
Do you make all your jewellery?
David: 90% of it is handmade by our own jewellers here in New Zealand, which is quite a rare thing! We often use the analogy that it's similar to comparing artisan chocolate like Colestown to factory-made chocolate. What we do is unique, of the best quality and the highest standard. No shortcuts!
Monette: It benefits our customers too. As well as being protected by New Zealand laws, anything over $3K comes with an independent valuation from a registered New Zealand gemologist.
Where does your design inspiration come from, Monette?
I was brought up surrounded by beautiful things - French furniture and the like - and I've always been fascinated by colour, shape, form, stones and gems. This passion evolves naturally into my jewellery designs.
What advice would you give a couple on choosing an engagement ring?
David: Research, research, research! It's so imporant to learn about the stone you've chosen. Ideally never buy stones online. You need to see how it will look on the hand, and the benefit of a jeweller's expertise can never be underestimated.
Monette: If you're buying a diamond ring that is designed to last a lifetime it should be nothing less than 18 carat gold, or platinum.
Monette, did you design your own engagement ring?
Of course I did!
Where do your diamonds come from?
David: All of our diamonds are ethically sourced - New Zealand is part of the Kimberley Process - and all stones that come in are certified, with their own registered number.
Are most of your clientele local?
David: We are a boutique jewellery shop, and our focus is on providing outstanding customer service and a world class product to the local vicinity...
Monette: ...although we do get customers who make an appointment and fly to Auckland specifically to see us! They know us, they know the quality of our product, and they wouldn't think about going elsewhere.
333 Remuera Road
Ph: 09 520 1092 www.antheasjewellers.co.nz
Photos by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson