Siblings create Cushla Whiting jewellery brand from diamond business of their father, former NZ All Black Peter Whiting | #daitngscams | #lovescams

Ten years on, the company’s “bread and butter” is still bespoke engagement and wedding rings. But over the past year, Cushla has developed a range of ready-to-wear fine jewellery. Each piece is designed to be worn for a lifetime, and so the look is timeless: a curbed bracelet set with a single brilliant-cut diamond, tennis necklaces in varying cuts, gold hoop earrings that recall Cushla’s architecture training.

Nobody is more surprised than Cushla that she’s in business with her siblings. “As kids they called us ‘the fighting Whitings’,” she says. “And to be honest, when we started the business we did have a swear jar. But we haven’t used it for a long time.”

The showroom began almost like a salon. “It was like hanging out with the Whiting family,” says Anna. “We would have these loose stones out and Hamish would meet people and just talk them through it all; it was very casual.” That relaxed sensibility has continued. “We are serious about the job but we are never stuffy or snobby,” says Cushla. “That’s probably a Kiwi thing.”

Peter Whiting (centre rear) plays for the All Blacks against South Africa in 1976. AP

Their father is still concerned that his children have taken on too much risk, says Anna. “Every time Dad calls us he’s like, ‘What are the figures, what are the figures?’ and then a bit later he’ll ask us all how we are. He used to worry about his business, now he’s worried about ours.”

He needn’t worry. “One of my favourite stories is when Hamish came to us about eight years ago, wanting to buy these teal sapphires from Nigeria,” says Cushla. “He was nervous that it was a scam, but he persisted. He knew he wanted them. We tried to warn him off, we thought it sounded really dodgy.”

Gemologist Hamish Whiting. 

Hamish defied his sisters, paid for the stones with his own money and received the shipment – a gorgeous box of perfectly cut teal sapphires, now a signature stone of the brand.

“And I just love that,” says Cushla. “Sometimes we are still the fighting Whitings, but we do figure out a way to work together in the end. Hamish never follows the crowd and that has been our saving grace many times.”

“But,” adds Anna, “it’s still probably a good thing he doesn’t live in the country.”

The winter issue of Fin Magazine is out on Friday, May 12 inside The Australian Financial Review.

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