Joanna Hardy is an independent gemmologist and jewellery specialist, formerly of DeBeers, Philips and Sothebys.
You are renowned the world over for your exceptional eye for jewels, design and craftsmanship. Can you tell us briefly how these past 30 years have shaped you as a jewellery specialist?
I have been very fortunate to have worked in many areas of the jewellery industry, which has given me the opportunity to be able to understand and view the jewellery industry as a whole. One thing is for sure—you never stop learning, but it is the people over the last 30 years who I have met that have helped me develop my discerning eye. It is so important to seek out the true experts in all areas of the industry who are not in it just for the money but who have passion in what they do. When I travel all over the world, I always take the opportunity to seek out people who are talented craftsmen, tradesman, designers or other jewellery historians. It has only been from these meetings that I have been able to develop my knowledge and understanding.
What is the jewellery master class all about?
My jewellery master classes are an opportunity where people can explore the real world of jewellery and where I can share my passion with fellow jewellery enthusiasts. You need not be an expert to join in but you need to bring an open mind with you. The public have been brainwashed with branding and my goal is to get people to realize that jewellery is far more than the 'bling culture'.
During my master classes, there is often the opportunity to study jewels and gems close up and with my guidance people can discover good craftsmanship and good design. The master class also helps people make informed decisions when it comes to choosing jewels to buy. If someone at the end of my master class says they will now look at jewellery in a completely different light, I know that my message has gotten across.
Tell us something about your book—Emerald—which seems nothing short of a bible for emerald lovers.
Researching for 'Emerald' was a jewellery historian's dream. I discovered some wonderful stories and the highlight of my research was discovering Boucheron's Book of Stones. This amazing book is a compendium of all the important gemstones that passed through their Paris showroom, each one beautifully illustrated and lovingly documented.
Can you let our readers in on one amazing fact about emeralds?
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the engagement rings given to iconic women such as The Duchess of Windsor and Jackie Kennedy were, in fact, set with an emerald.
What tips can you give to someone who wants to invest in diamonds or emeralds for their personal collection?
Buy the best you can afford, but most importantly, if you are spending a significant amount of money, then ensure that the stone is accompanied with an internationally recognized gemmological certificate disclosing where the stone was mined and whether the stone has been treated or not.
What is your next big goal in jewellery?
My goal is to continue to support and champion the skills and expertise that are needed in all areas of the industry to make beautifully crafted and well-designed jewellery. In today's world of modern technology it would be so easy to lose these skills forever, and we would all be the poorer for it.
Is there a message that you want to convey to the readers of Purple Tag?
Be independent in your thinking, don't just go to the same place to buy your jewellery but explore other avenues as well. You'll be surprised by what you can find round the corner.
—As told to Shraddha Shirodkar
Emerald is a lavishly illustrated, definitive guide to the world's most valuable precious gemstone. Supported by Gemfields, the coffee table book tells the story of this fascinating, enduring and magnificent gem. Preceded by a detailed Master Class on this magnificent gemstone, Emerald was successfully unveiled for Indian connoisseurs by co-author Joanna Hardy, on 25th February at the Delhi Art Gallery. Priced at Rs. 8,250, Emerald is available at all leading book stores across the country.