Mondial: A Sparkling Family Affair
Mondial is an Australian family owned and operated jewellery business stretching back over 50 years and involving 3 generations.
The Mondial story began in 1962 when Fred and Maria Neuman opened a jewellery store called Carina Jewellers on Darlinghurst road in the East Sydney area known as Kings Cross, when it was a rather eclectic, vibrant and bohemian environment. With their European flair, eye for innovation and business ethic of hardwork and integrity, Carina became a landmark Sydney store in the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s for people looking for something different and jewellery inspired by the latest fashions from Europe. The shop itself was noteworthy for having a large mural façade created by influential ceramicist and Archibald Prize finalist Gerard Havekes, who was a friend of Fred and Maria’s.
In the mid 1970’s, the couple saw opportunities in transitioning from retail into wholesale and founded Neuman Jewellery Imports, a jewellery manufacturing business which over a period of 30 years or so was instrumental in growing and supporting some of the most recognised retailers in Australia. This venture led them overseas in search of new trends, ideas and the finest diamonds and gemstones, with which to create beautiful stock of a quality which was uncommon in Australia at that time.
By the late 70’s Neuman Imports was a major player on the local scene with better quality jewellery and Singapore, which had become a hub for Fred and Maria, was where they established Mondial Jewellers. The concept was a European sounding name for a boutique selling upmarket jewellery with a contemporary and Western aesthetic in an Asian environment. With innovation and promotion including exhibitions in Malaysia, the Mondial name built an enviable reputation for quality and luxury and counted the Sultan of Brunei amongst its clientele. Mondial in Singapore was sold but the upscale legacy continued when Mondial in Sydney was launched with the opening of the new Ritz Carlton in Double Bay in 1991.
Sadly, Maria passed away in 1989, just shy of her 50th birthday but not before she had designed Australia’s first range of jewellery inspired by and featuring rough Cognac coloured diamonds from the newly operational Argyle diamond mine. This range called “Wild Diamonds” was way ahead of its time and the Argyle diamonds became a passion of Fred’s and a focus of his business.
Mondial moved from the Ritz Carlton “Promenade” in Double Bay to “The Grand Walk” of the iconic Queen Victoria Building in 1993, where this year it celebrates a rare quarter of a century as one of the QVB’s oldest and most august tenants.
Fred was joined in the business by his 2 children Michael and Nadia, as well as his cousin Jacob, who emigrated to Australia in 1981. Jacob worked with Fred for over 35 years and learnt everything he knows about the business from Fred and Maria. He co-manages Mondial in the QVB with Michael. Michael studied gemmology in residence at the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and over the past 20 years in the business has made pink and other coloured diamonds his particular field of expertise. He has been a past director of the NSW branch of the JAA (jewellers Association of Australia) and is currently chairman of the DGA (Diamond Guild of Australia), a not for profit organisation of diamond jewellery professionals dedicated to promoting and exemplifying benchmarks of quality, expertise and integrity in the jewellery industry. Nadia, who inherited her mother’s creativity and flair for design, has established herself as one of Australia’s most awarded and talented jewellery designers. She manages the Mondial group’s second store, the eponymously named Mondial by Nadia Neuman in The Strand Arcade. Mondial by Nadia celebrated it’s 10th year in 2019 and has a well-established clientele who appreciate Nadia’s bold and innovative creations.
The grounding and shining example both Fred and Maria passed onto the family is evident in all aspects of the business — from the focus on customer service and satisfaction, to the quality of design, manufacturing and materials used.
Mondial, in the QVB, has the largest selection of pink Argyle diamonds in Australia. It has exhibited Argyle Pink Diamond Jewellery at Buckingham Palace as part of Queen Elizabeth the second’s Diamond Jubilee, launched Australia’s first range of Indigenous fine jewellery (designed in collaboration with indigenous designer Alison Page) and won “Retailer of the Year” for the whole Ipoh group (encompassing prime CBD retail locations such as the QVB, Strand, Galleries Victoria, Chifley Plaza etc) an unprecedented 3 times.
Fred Neuman was the inaugural recipient of the Jewellers Association of Australia’s Lifetime achievement award in 2014 for his outstanding contribution to the jewellery industry and his family business Mondial is proud to be carrying on in his footsteps.