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Celebrating 35 Years of Marina Mirage with John Calleija

This year, Marina Mirage is celebrating 35 years of business, and we couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this special occasion than to honour some of our wonderfully unique retailers who make shopping at Marina Mirage a magical experience.

John Calleija has been a major presence within the Marina Mirage community for years with his fellow retailers praising not only his incredible jewellery, but also his friendly demeanor. We sat down with John himself to reminisce about some of his favourite moments at Marina Mirage, and why our community holds a special place in his heart.

How long have you had a store at Marina Mirage?

We’ve been here for over 20 years, and I’ve been a jeweller for 42 years.

Is there a particular jewellery piece you’re especially proud of?

I don’t like to choose favourites, but if I had to it would be the Virtual Eros headpiece, as it really put us on the map as international jewellery designers, gaining so much international publicity that people contacted us from all over the world.

The Virtual Eros headpiece features 44 carats of brilliant diamonds and has even attracted the attention of Madonna, who named it her favourite design. It was showcased in the Alexander McQueen Spring 2000 collection, and we won the coveted De Beers International Diamond Design Award for the piece in the same year.

It’s still regarded throughout the world as one of the most daring and exquisite examples of contemporary jewellery design and to say winning the De Beers Diamond Design Award was exciting would be an understatement. The award is highly competitive, with over 2,500 designer entries and is known as the Oscars of the jewellery industry.

Of course, Argyle Pink Diamonds are what we’re famous for, representing the Argyle Mine in Western Australia which closed in 2020. The pink diamonds that we have now are the very last of them.

What do you love about running your business at Marina Mirage?

Marina Mirage is our core. We’ve had lots of fabulous years at Marina Mirage. You never know in the morning what’s going to happen that day. You could be just in the boutique and then suddenly someone will walk into the boutique, and you don’t have a clue who they are. It could be somebody who is caravanning around Australia in very casual clothes, and they’ll end up buying a million-dollar piece of jewellery – which happens and has happened before.

Clients come to us (and not just rockstars) but everybody from a young couple getting engaged to even a young schoolboy (who was about 14 years old) who did a lay buy of $20 a month on a pink diamond and now he owns a pink diamond!

What are some special moments you’ve had here at Marina Mirage?

One special moment was when we received the last one-carat Red Argyle Signature Tender Diamond. The 1.01ct radiant shape Argyle Bohème™ is one of the most coveted and rarest diamonds in the world.

Argyle Bohème™ was also the very last one-carat Red Tender Diamond to come from the Argyle Mine. Her fancy red colour is not only hypnotising, but also incomparable. She is one of only 35 fancy red diamonds ever offered in the 38-year history of the Argyle Tender.

Another special meeting involved a chance encounter several years ago between Zara Tindall and myself, which resulted in us creating a contemporary, timeless, and feminine jewellery collection. It’s currently showcased here in the boutique.

I also had a lady once say to me, “whenever I was feeling a bit down in life, I’d always pop into your store, and I’d feel so much better when I left.” She got to spend time with our crew, our team – she’d come in just to catch up! We love people coming in for a coffee, a champagne, or a wine.

What is it about the Marina Mirage community that you love the most?

The people and businesses. In essence, what makes the Marina Mirage community special is its capacity to bring people together, nurture relationships, and create a sense of shared identity and purpose. It provides a space where individuals can thrive, find support, and contribute to something larger than themselves.

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