Who or what inspires your work? People, places, things… my family, to start. My parents both worked at Elegance Jewellers, which was established in 1967, during their summer holidays. They later married, and then acquired the business. It has since grown to include three generations — my gran used to head up sales, and we grew up behind the counters. Nearly 50 years later, we’re still at it, inspired by our family and business heritage, our country, and our clients.

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Who are your customers and what do they buy? We cater to a wide range of clients. In many ways, destination jewellers are like fashion houses, with clients buying “off the rail”, as well as commissioning bespoke pieces. Bespoke design work is driven by a small but important market — one that’s growing. Our clients love being able to express their individuality in an increasingly uniform world.

And your cult range Nom Nom appeals to this market? And how! It has really taken off, beyond our wildest dreams, enjoying a massive following throughout South Africa, Australia, Europe the UK, the US, and Canada. Nom Nom has a very strong brand identity, but it’s underscored by a strong individual signature
that is unique to each client. It’s the reinvention of the humble charm necklace, but sexed-up with a new twist that celebrates the individual.

How did Nom Nom start? It’s quite weird, actually, but it’s the result of the classic creative process where desire drives innovation. I was sitting with my yiayia (grandmother), eyeing her gold clover charm, and I asked her to give it to me. Because the workshop was closed, I used a red string and turquoise bead to attach it to my chain. A friend then wanted it, offering to buy it from me, so I made him a new one. I added a stone, he added two. Then his friend arrived from Sydney and also wanted one — and then the phone started ringing, with everyone wanting the Elegance “charm necklace”, as it didn’t have a name back then.

Where does it get its name? It’s named after my brother Dino’s son, Nicholas Oresti Mavrodaris, and it’s a play on his initials.

To what do you attribute its mad success around the world? It’s a celebration of simplicity, flexibility, and individuality. Nom Nom’s base design is a fine gold chain with a turquoise bead. From there, the look is driven by the individual, who chooses from the 30-odd standard products, or mixes it up with the addition of upcycled family heirlooms. Its tag line is “bespoke  keepsakes” and, in its purest essence, that’s what it’s all about. It has a signature look, but one that’s very individualised. It appeals to men and women, young and old, and it works with everything from jeans and T-shirts to evening wear.

What’s next for the Nom Nom brand? Because it works on the charm-piece concept, a Nom Nom piece usually grows over time, as clients will give elements to each other as gifts. As the range has grown, Nom Nom has since developed into a store-withina-store at Elegance. And, as our first international breakthrough brand, there’s increasing pressure from clients who want us to open standalone stores.

What’s next for Elegance? The Love Teddy luxury jewellery collection, for which we collaborated with design guru Danyell Nestadt, is now in-house at
all Elegance stores, and we have plans to take the Teddy Tale abroad. We also have Gi!, which is our new in-house collection that’s inspired by Africa, and what I think is the world’s most elegant animal, the giraffe. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Gi!  — what’s the catchphrase at that Cape wine farm? Audacia? Ex Africa semper aliquid novi — out of Africa, always something new. I love that!

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