In Conversation with Deborah Symond O’Neil

We are thrilled to partner with Deborah Symond O’Neil, Founder and Director of Australian fashion retailer Mode Sportif and lover of all things beauty and style, for our April Important Jewels auction. Here, we get to know Deborah and find out about her favourite ways to accessorise (hint, diamonds!).

How would you describe your personal jewellery style?
I’m not afraid to have fun with jewellery, which means how I wear jewellery changes between, day, evening, and events. My personal collection features a mix of minimal, sculptural, vibrant, statement, and simple pieces and I absolutely love pairing my outfits to my jewellery. Jewellery has the power to transform a look and create a mood.

Jewels have been worn as talismans for millennia across many cultures. Why do you think jewellery is so powerful and personal?
Jewellery is a way to showcase individual style and personality. Whether old or new, jewellery can carry a rich history, tell a story, spark conversation, and recall memories. Jewellery is as powerful as it is beautiful.

What is your personal favourite piece from the April Important Jewels collection at Leonard Joel? 
As we shot this feature, the moment I wore the Bulgari suite, I knew it was my favourite piece from the collection. The coloured sapphires transform an outfit and make an incredible statement. The way the necklace falls is so unique, it’s simply magical!

Describe a typical outfit for you, and how you would accessorise it.
I love to play with fashion, so my everyday outfit is always a bit different, but I love to layer my jewellery, wearing two necklaces together in varying lengths, or a stack of bracelets in different shapes. I tend to choose one focal point for day-to-day jewellery. Either making a statement with my necklace or earrings depending on the neckline, cut, and aesthetic of the outfit.

Congratulations on your daughter’s christening! What jewellery piece would you choose for her to treasure as an heirloom? 
Thank you, it was such a special day! I passed down my grandmother’s vintage Cartier watch to Violet for her christening, and my mother passed on the pearl earrings she gave me for my 21st birthday, to Violet. I love how jewellery can connect people and is timeless through the generations.

What’s one staple piece of jewellery that you think every woman should have in her jewellery box?
Why a diamond ring, of course!

Is there a special piece of jewellery in your collection that you could tell us about?
My husband designed my engagement ring with a jeweller in Sydney, and when he proposed to me, he passed on a book filled with his original sketches and the design process. It’s my most treasured piece.

Images: Deborah Symond O’Neil wearing her favourite pieces from the April Important Jewels Auction at Leonard Joel
Photography: Oliver Begg
Stylist: Marina Afonina
Hair and makeup: Filomena Natoli


March 2023