Gemologist and jewellery designer Cindy Boudov behind the eponymous brand, has had a lifelong passion for shimmering stones. But it wasn’t until her senior years at university that she decided to fulfil her inherent dream. Exchanging law studies for an education in gemology at the Gemological Institute of America was a swop she has never regretted.
Based in Los Angeles, California, she today runs a private studio designing fine diamond jewellery, where every piece is handcrafted in a personal design process, making them truly unique objets d’art. And after more than 30 years working closely with all kinds of diamonds, she is still mesmerized by their magic.
– The study and science of a gem’s growth is absolutely amazing and fascinating! The fact that gem quality rocks are mined from the earth is truly quite mind boggling. What makes a rock a gem was always something that I found intriguing. The utter beauty, the extreme values and the rarity are all factors that went into my fascination with gems and gemology. Exchanging law school for gemology school was the best decision I ever made. I’ve never looked back.
What projects are you involved in right now?
– I am working on a “basics” line with one of our retail stores, Jake and Jones, in Santa Barbara. My line tends to lean towards one of a kind pieces, however we have been working hard to add several price-pointed, more everyday pieces, while still maintaining my brand’s feeling and look. We are also constantly working on new pieces and designs for the upcoming season. And with the Covid 19 we are looking for ways to bring the shopping experience you have in our studio to our shoppers online and through virtual avenues.
Describe your working process!
– I always begin with the centre stone. Diamonds, gems in general, have a life and a soul inside of them, a personality if you will. I spend a lot of time just looking at and playing with my stones learning about them and listening to what they want me to do with them. I know this sounds very strange … however, try it! They really do have a way of telling you what to do with them. Maybe not for everyone, but for me, they almost speak. After picking a gem, I lay it on a clean, white piece of paper and begin to sketch. I then meet with my jeweller to discuss what I want; the feeling, the thickness, the finish, etcetera. Sometimes we make a wax and sometimes we just cast the design from sketch. It really depends on the piece. And sometimes, although rarely, I don’t like the finished piece. Those are usually the pieces that sell immediately, funny enough.
Which part of your process is the most important one and why?
– The sale at the end is no doubt the most important one. Without selling my pieces, I have no way to continue creating. Other than that, the time I spend purchasing my gems is the most important part, as it is the gems themselves that motivate the whole process.
How do you choose what material to work with?
– I am a diamond expert and have worked closely with all kinds of diamonds for over 30 years, it’s what I know and love very much. I choose diamonds that I like and would want to wear myself. I only choose the finest specimens of the types I love; slice diamonds, rustic diamonds, rose cut diamonds, fancy coloured diamonds. This is where being a diamond specialist and GIA-certified gemmologist really come in handy. These diamonds are not traditional, and have qualities as part of their inherent nature where knowledge of diamonds and how they grow is essential. This gives me my edge over other designers in this category, in addition to my many years of experience.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing!
– I was born and raised in Venice Beach, California, way back in 1965. I have two older brothers who I am very close with still. My parents were divorced when I was two years old, but my Dad was extremely present in our lives and always there. Throughout my childhood we travelled extensively, leaving the country for three years when I was 14 to go to Europe and the Middle east. Settling in Israel for a year and a half at age 15 was definitely influential in my upbringing. I guess you could say my mother was extremely untraditional, but she was “high on life” and always did fun things with us. So, theatre, travel, music, and a non-traditional “hippie” education definitely moulded the non-traditional life I have led and, I’m told, still do today.
What were you like as a child, and in what way has your upbringing influenced your career choice?
– I was one who marched to my own drummer. I didn’t care too much about fads or what was in fashion, I tended to go my own way even when I was small. Being so untraditional, yet still being accepted and even applauded for my lack of conformity, very much allowed me to explore and express myself when designing my jewellery. I tend to make jewellery I like to wear. Not being a trained “designer” has many disadvantages, however, it also has many advantages. I don’t feel like I have to make my pieces look any particular way, only the way I like. I feel that this stems directly from my childhood times, allowing me the freedom to explore my own likes and dislikes in my work.
What does your daily life look like?
– My mornings are spent tending to my family, my husband and daughter who is 17, my animals and getting the house back in order from the day before. Then hopefully yoga or have a run, then off to my studio in Venice for designing and meeting with clients. Several times a week I meet with my jewellers to get an update on jobs in the shop, make any changes to pieces in works, and plan new pieces to come. Evenings are family time and, sometimes lovely sometimes not so lovely, dinner. At times I go back to my home office and do appraisals in the evening, or work on things I couldn’t get finished during the day, but trying hard not to do that too frequently. I try to leave the studio when I leave, but with your own small business, you’re truly always working.
That is so true. You are very productive, where do you get your energy?
– I try to age gracefully! I exercise, eat well, and try to get enough sleep. I do believe that food is a huge factor to our energy and how we feel, as well as to our productivity. I have eaten organic my whole life, from day one, and believe pesticides are designed to kill living creatures. They cannot be good for humans either, regardless of what we are told in this country. We place too much emphasis on the way things look, pretty much with everything here in America. I don’t care if my grapes have some brown spots. I’d rather that, to the enormous amounts of pesticides used in large scale, traditional, American farming.
What is your view on sustainability?
– If we want to have a beautiful world, we all need to do our part to not pollute, waste, and selfishly over indulge in the earth’s gifts. This is why we use only ethically mined gems, recycled metals, and keep manufacturing to as hand made as possible.
Which is usually the best moment of the day?
– I love the morning when it’s quiet and nobody is yet awake but me. It’s my ”me time” of the day, fleeting as it may be.
And the most boring?
– Preparing dinner night after night. I am a very simple eater myself, no red meat for over 40 years. However, my daughter and husband love to eat, so I do cook. Although I don’t love it, I don’t like eating out or ordering out very often so I cook . I find it boring and a chore!
What inspires you?
– Travel is a big inspiration. I travelled to Japan about a year ago, and fell in love with the culture. Unlike anywhere else I had ever been, I found the refined elegance, the sense of humour, and level of sophistication to be very alluring and inspirational. Also, the ocean/beach and people are a huge part of what inspire me. Not famous people, just everyday regular people.
If you didn’t live in Los Angeles, where would you live?
– I truly can’t imagine not living in Los Angeles, I love it here. I can find lots of things wrong with it, but when I try to think where I would go, I come back here. I love Venice, it’s my forever home. I will always spend a very large amount of my time in travel and exploration, but I do not think I would be happier anywhere else. Although we did consider the north shore of Kaui, Hawaii for a short while!
Tell us about your next project!
– We are trying to digest what we are learning during this Covid 19 time. I am grateful for the time to reflect, take stock, and think about that very question. We are striving to come back to our roots a little bit this year, to find the joy and love of creating and leave the business side of it a bit wilder as in the beginning. I want to trust my intuition in both creativity and business. To develop and nurture what I know to be true to me, my jewellery is amazing! It is very easy to doubt and question and loose faith. This year is our power of knowledge. Knowledge that we can weather storms, relish in our joys and achievements, provide the best for our clients, and persevere through adversity. We can do that! Boudov can do it! I can do it! I love each year of growth with this line and plan to do that for at least the next year.
How would you define your aesthetics?
– Eclectic, organic, with a modern twist. As for my own personal style in clothes and accessories, very funky eclectic, and very casual. Sometimes I like to dress up, but rarely.
The last item of clothing you added to your wardrobe?
– A really beautiful turquoise coloured jacket from Aviator Nation.
Your personal style signifiers?
– Pink eye glasses.
How do you combine your outfits with accessories?
– I wear my diamonds all the time, whether in yoga gear or dressing for the opera, I wear pretty much the same style of jewellery. However, I don’t normally wear my fascinator out on a regular basis, only on special occasions.
Favourite fashion designer?
– I love so many, but overall, I really am digging Rachel Comey right now, and Esther from Berlin.
Who are the style icons that inspires you?
– I adore Iris Apfel. She is true to only herself, while being very mindful and conscious, respectful and caring of the greater.
How much do you know about Sweden and the Swedish nature?
– I have been to Sweden, hiked the mountain, but I do not know very much about Swedish nature. I would love to learn more about it. In my mind it conjures icy cold, clean, mountains, crisp clean air. These are the words that come to my mind. I also have dear friends from Sweden.
Spontaneously, what do you know about cellulose/bio acetate?
– I don’t know much, but believe it is an environmentally conscious product.
Your favourite frame from Akenberg?
– I love the Jokkfall Crowberry Twist, but adore the Ahkka Forest Prince as well. Both are very chic, with interesting shapes. I love that you also are sustainably conscious in your company behaviour, this is a very important quality in where we do business on a personal and business level. Your company’s unique qualities will take you far.