From family jewellers to dedicated collectors, these are the Brisbane people who are touched by the world of bling, writes Laura Brodnik.
Christie Nicolaides is Brisbane’s queen of bling. The jewellery fan has amassed quite a collection of opulent pieces that are so detailed they could double as artwork.
However, unlike other jewellery hoarders, Nicolaides’s collection has never been about the price tag.
“I’ve collected a lot of pieces from my travels, from Greece, Istanbul and Hong Kong.
“You will never see me without a pair of earrings on! ”
Nicolaides collects both costume and fine jewellery but says costume jewellery is what tends to spark her interest.
“My jewellery is a representation of who I am,” she says.
She is now taking her love of bling one step further.
“I had some pieces I designed manufactured in Istanbul, using metals and semi-precious stones. I’ll be releasing the collection through a pop-up store and my website.
The bling dynasty
Wolfgang Schwantes is leaving a glittering legacy in his wake.
In 1976 Wolfgang realised his dream and opened Xennox Diamonds. Following his retirement, his son Karl took over the family business.
“As a boy I can remember coming into the store after school and on weekends,” Karl says, “I still go to him for advice, there’s a lot of wisdom to draw on.”
Karl would love the business to stay in the family.
“I have four children and I’d like to think that at least one of them will come into the industry!”
Wolfgang says it was always his dream to have his family work in the business.
“I was lucky that Karl was driven and very talented,” he says.
“A lot of customers who come in are the children of my customers. I sold engagement rings to the parents and now their children are buying their engagment rings from my son.”
Georgie Thomson’s ring is a reminder that jewellery is not just for show, it has the power to store memories and emotions.
When Georgie and her brothers were growing up, their mother’s close friend Rae was always a shoulder to lean on.
Rae owned a special 18-carat gold ring made up of her wedding, engagement and eternity rings and when she passed away just before Georgie and her husband Ben were engaged, Georgie was devastated.
However, just like the times she had filled Georgie’s freezer with meals during exams, Rae had been thinking of her and left her the ring to wear on her wedding day.
“Rae was such a huge part of my life,” Georgie says.
“I loved being able to look down at my hand and see the ring on my wedding day and I knew that she would be thrilled I was wearing it.”
The bling hunter
Shane Pfeffer is a modern day treasure hunter, dedicating his career to hunting down jewels.
Pfeffers Auctions is a treasure trove of jewellery including gold, diamonds, pearls and silver.
“I was raised on a cattle station, but I wasn’t interested in academics so I left school and worked as a cadet auctioneer,” he says.
In his search for bling Pfeffer left no stone in the world unturned.
“From 1981 through until about 1990, I travelled extensively looking for jewellery,” he says.
“I used to secure jewellery from Argentina, the UK, Belgium, Thailand, China, Taiwan and Indonesia to name a few.”
Pfeffer is still on the forefront of the jewellery world, from auctioning single items to complete on-site clearance sales and deceased estate auctions in Brisbane.