Founded in 1853, Australian jeweller Hardy Brothers just unveiled four show-stopping Vault pieces. But one of the items – a contemporary emerald pendant – reflects the brand’s new trajectory, one where it continues to pay respect to its 170-year history, but embraces modernity as it hauls itself into the future.
Alexander Bishop, operations manager at Hardy Brothers, was working in one of the jeweller’s Melbourne stores when a young girl walked in.
“She was looking at engagement rings,” he recalls. The customer hadn’t heard of Hardy Brothers herself, but her grandmother encouraged her to go there. “Her grandmother told her she got her ring from Hardy Brothers, and that she needed to go there first,” Bishop says.
And this – the next-generation customer – is who Hardy Brothers is preparing for. It’s partly why the jewellery brand decided to celebrate its 170th anniversary. That’s right – the business was founded in 1853, with founder John Hardy opening the company’s first showroom on Hunter Street in Sydney. And it’s the Southern Hemisphere’s only fine jeweller to hold the Royal Warrant, and is a select atelier for the iconic Australian Argyle Pink Diamond. (Wallace Bishop, a 107-year-old Brisbane business, bought Hardy Brothers in 1997, and it remains a family business under the stewardship of CEO Stuart Bishop and his two sons, Alexander and William Bishop.).
The 170th anniversary event, which took place in late October in Sydney, was an opportunity not only to celebrate the longevity of the brand and solidify some of its recent partnerships in the luxury space, but also to showcase the jeweller’s Vault collection – including four show-stopping additions.
There was a 7.02-carat trilogy and diamond engagement ring in 18ct white gold; an 11.58-carat emerald and diamond halo ring in 18ct yellow gold; a 4.39-carat emerald and diamond signet ring in 18ct yellow gold; and a 11.70-carat emerald and diamond pendant in 18ct yellow gold.
The emeralds were all hand-selected by CEO Stuart Bishop from travels around the world, each with their own unique origin story, with a view to redesign them with a new twist – particularly the pendant.
“The pendant was very different in terms of craftsmanship,” Bishop says. “It was inspired by the ease and effortlessness of modern Australian style, but really it was about paring it back and showing the emerald for what it was. Emeralds – they do have flaws, there is a relatable beauty in that, so we wanted the emerald to be the focus.
“It’s a huge, beautiful emerald, flaws and all, and putting it on a very simple, closely designed cable chain… That was an opportunity for us to showcase our history of and expertise in crafting elegant, contemporary fine jewellery, regardless of how what is “contemporary” changes over the years.”
And this is somewhat a reflection of the new direction for Hardy Brothers, Bishop says. It is, of course, a historic brand, but to appeal to new clients, they must adapt new trends.
“Across all of our categories, our aim is to produce pieces that represent our traditional craftsmanship and quality but also respond to our clients ever changing desires. It’s what the new client wants and expects in terms of designs – we’re really starting to blend 170 years of traditional craftsmanship and sensibilities with modern design.”
This is also reflected in the company’s latest partnerships, like its distribution rights to Swiss watchmaker Rebellion and globally-renowned watchmaker Jacob & Co., which it secured earlier this year.
“It’s an alignment of values,” Wallace Bishop CEO Stuart Bishop says. “We believe in pushing boundaries, much like Jacob & Co. does with their incredible pieces.”
And it’s also seen in the redesign of the jeweller’s flagship store in Sydney, spearheaded by Alexander Bishop, though he credits his grandfather, too.
“My grandfather’s wisdom is still our guiding light. While we’ve given our stores and offerings a modern twist, our core philosophy remains unaltered—quality above all. It’s about empowering the client to make a confident, well-informed choice,” Bishop says.
The new flagship features a luxurious palette of polished Venetian plaster, fine leathers and rich Australian timbers – though the pièce de resistance is the Vault, a space for private viewings of the jeweller’s finer pieces.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, Bishop plans to continue to develop Hardy Brothers product and boutiques to bring the modern luxury experience that its clients are asking for sooner.
“We have to uphold the brand’s historic values while pushing the boundaries of luxury,” Bishop says. “Change is the only constant, but our core values remain unchanged.”