I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the very charming and hilarious Ron Bensimon, founder of Bensimon Diamonds and creator of the ‘Give a Diamond’ phenomenon taking Australia by storm. I made my way to Bensimon HQ and found myself alone (well except for Ron and his business partner Richard) with literally hundreds or maybe thousands of stunning diamond rings of all shapes, colours and sizes. Every girls dream, right?
Not for a twenty eight year old single girl who’s best chance at receiving a diamond any time soon is if a long lost relative drops dead and leaves her one in the will! Anyway, my bitterness aside, Ron and I had a great chat about the diamond business and why no man should be trusted to pick the ring…. (Future husband, where ever you are hiding, take note!)
AF: You’ve been in the jewellery industry your whole life, but more so in the business and sales side. Do you see yourself as more creative, or more of a businessman?
RBS: I think I have both in me, but I would say I’m more so on the business side of things. However, through the whole evolution of Bensimon I was very involved in growing that creative aspect of the brand right from the start. So, I see myself as a businessman but I definitely have some of that creative talent. Limited creative talent!
AF: Bensimon Diamonds is all about the man giving a diamond to their partner, and the couple designing the ring together. Can you talk me through the inspiration behind Bensimon Diamonds and the ‘Give a Diamond’ concept?
RBS: The inspiration for Bensimon came from me obviously having a retail space and having worked in the jewellery business all my life, so I had a bit of a moral issue in that we have all these amazing engagement rings in our store at Elizabeth Fine Jewellery in Melbourne and guys come in, they’re vulnerable and are seeking advice, but it can be quite difficult for even the most experienced sales people to help a nervous, clueless man chose a ring for a woman the salesperson has never even met.
More often than I would like, I’d see women coming back in to have the ring re-sized and the truth would come out that it wasn’t the perfect ring she would have chosen for herself. I started to see this as a real problem and something that was happening all too often. It’s such a shame, because we’re selling an expensive item and you want people to love it.
So that’s where the concept of ‘Give a Diamond’ evolved from, I saw an opportunity where the man could chose a beautiful diamond to suit his budget and then the couple could go on to design the ring together so the woman is guaranteed to get a ring she loves.
AF: What are the most popular trends in engagement rings at the moment? Do you see a shift in trends, much like fashion trends change?
RBS: Absolutely, it does shift often. At the moment the halo design is really popular once again, which has evolved from the solitaire design, a solid diamond in a plain band. There definitely are trends and a lot of that starts from famous people, Hollywood stars getting a certain ring and then everybody wants that, but the trends change quite quickly. (Like the celebrity marriages!)
AF: Your wife Kate’s ring is absolutely stunning. Did you design that one yourself, or did she have some input?
I did, I designed it myself. But because I’m in the industry I’d seen her around jewellery a lot in the past and had an idea of what she liked, so I could easily interpret that into the perfect ring for her. But its not a real diamond, she doesn’t know that yet
* Jokes *
AF: The stone is practically see through, it’s stunning.
RBS: Yeah that stone is a rare step cut emerald and it actually took me months and months to find it, and usually I can find a diamond at the click of my fingers!
AF: Do your friend’s girlfriend’s give you not so subtle hints about the style of diamond they want when their boyfriend finally pops the question?
RBS: Absolutely! I’ve got girls now, not even mates girlfriends, who follow Bensimon on Instagram and will make comments, or I even get emails saying ‘hey if my boyfriend ever gets in touch with you..’ I definitely get it a lot.
AF: Even I do that and I don’t even have a boyfriend! Like, Like, keep track Ron!
RBS: Instagram has definitely been instrumental in that, because a guy can keep an eye out and watch what their girlfriend is doing and when she likes a certain ring he can keep track of that.
AF: What would be the most common mistake men make when choosing a diamond for their partner?
Well, I would say that…. They fuck up everything!
AF: (Laughing) Quote unquote
RBS: No look, in most cases they do have some kind of an idea if they’ve done their research, but I suppose the reason I created Bensimon is because of that, to avoid people making these huge decisions and getting it wrong.
AF: Have you had anyone chose the wrong diamond?
RBS: Not that I’m aware of, no. I suppose if she’s not exactly happy with the diamond at least she can then shape the ring to be as she wanted. A diamond is a diamond at the end of the day.
AF: Your ring boxes are like a piece of artwork themselves. What was the inspiration behind the boxes?
RBS: Facets. I worked on the box for six months and I knew it had to be special and have that impact as soon as someone saw it. It had to be something quite different, so the brief was I wanted facets and I want the box to be completely unique and have that ‘wow factor’.
I had Seesaw Design work on the box, we worked together for six months to perfect it and it eventually once we got it perfect the next challenge was getting it produced. It’s one of the hardest things to produce because it’s made of all these different components. The first Bensimon box was 3D printed so I could see it in real life, and then the rest is history.
So, you’re basically a diamond expert. Explain to me a little about your diamond education at GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) and why this means you are able to offer your customers the best diamonds in the world.
RBS: There are different grading labs around the world and GIA is considered to be the benchmark-grading lab, it’s the one that is the most trusted. The way diamonds are graded is by humans. So if you take two humans grading the one diamond there is usually going to be a discrepancy in the findings, but GIA is found to have a more consistent level of grading, which is why I chose to study with them.
You can’t do the course in Australia so I went to Bangkok to complete my course. Studying at GIA was an amazing experience, although I must admit most of my knowledge of diamonds and my ability to spot an amazing diamond has comes just from practice and from being around them my whole life. I’ve always had a passion for diamonds.
AF: Any parting advice on diamonds?
RBS: I suppose I just like to get across the point that you only buy an engagement ring once in your life, hopefully, and guys genuinely don’t know what they’re doing when really this is one of the biggest decisions of your life. So I like to be able to help out and I form a close relationship with all of my customers to make sure we get it right.
Richard: (Ron’s business partner Richard steps in at this stage to offer some second hand advice)
I’ve heard Ron say before that ‘you would never dream of letting your partner pick your wedding dress and you only wear the dress once, but you wear the ring every day for the rest of your life, so why would you assume that he’s capable of picking the ring? Then women tell a lie and say they love it when they don’t.
RBS: Most people tell a lie, especially when they’re caught up in the moment and he’s just proposed, you’re not going to turn around and say, ‘Fuck, I hate the ring.’ Some girls I’m sure find that sentimental value in the ring he chose and grow to love it, but I would prefer the girls actually have input so they can say ‘I helped design this, it’s my perfect ring.”
Follow @bensimondiamonds on Instagram to get your daily dose of carats, or in my case pangs of depression. Jokes! (Kinda)