At only 29, head jewelry designer Hollie Bonneville Barden is shaking things up for one of the world’s most prominent luxury brands. “As a young designer, I have to harness the heritage of the brand but balance innovation with heritage. I am free in the design process, but never lose sight of the strong core focus, which is diamonds.”
Born in Wales, Barden grew up surrounded by nature. She studied jewellery at Central Saint Martins, the famed alma mater of Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney. After working on a coffee table book for De Beers in 2010, she was tapped by CEO François Delage for the top design job.
She is a fan of rough diamonds, and wears a ring that’s a mixture of pale brown uncut stones and white ones in a pink-gold band. “I want my designs to reflect that power and grace of a diamond. There is something mystic and mysterious about diamonds; we feel protected by them.”
Barden's Favourite Things
Studded brogues by British brand Churches are well-crafted but have a modern edge. “My De Beers Talisman medal protects me, and my Aria watch keeps time.” Crème de la Mer helps her delicate complexion keep its natural glow. “A Kooples jacket can be added to any outfit to finish it off,” she says. Indonesia is her dream getaway, for the sea, food and culture. “The Anish Kapoor sky mirror in the summer gardens of Versailles is a favourite artwork of mine because it beautifully illustrates old and new together.” To add a hit of nature in the studio, Hollie picks a large, dramatic fiddle leaf plant. When the menu is in her hand, fresh seafood is her go-to dish. Scandinavian furniture is a major crush, especially Danish designs brands like Olsen or British brand Ercol. Since she often gets her best ideas when travelling, Hollie never goes anywhere without a little sketchbook. She totes her essentials practical Grafea leather satchel while riding her bike to work and opts for a Céline handbag when going out.