Industry veteran launches a new Jewellery brand – Neil Ventura

Industry veteran launches a new Jewellery brand – Neil Ventura

We recently had the privilege of interviewing Neil Ventura, Owner of Ventura Fine Jewellery. As a seasoned global leader, Neil has a successful history as CEO and board member, with expertise in business building, digital technologies, innovation, sustainability, and team-building.

At Ventura Fine Jewellery House, an ‘Appointment Only’ approach is adopted to serve private clients and make stunning show-stopper jewelry pieces. In this session, the veteran industry leader, Neil Ventura shares about his jewelry house, their services, and his vision for leaving behind the business legacy.

The Beginning

We started the interview by asking, “Can you walk us through your professional journey and how it led to where you are today?”

Neil Ventura

Neil Ventura shared, “After spending my career this far in the diamond sector, I have recently established Ventura Fine Jewellery with my business partners – a 3rd generation jeweler and gemstone expert; and a talented creative designer. Our stylish, colorful designs combine artistry, brilliant craftsmanship, and responsible sourcing, and we offer high jewelry pieces; seasonal collections; and full bespoke services – all with an uncompromising approach to quality’’.

This has been a lifelong career ambition – my grandfather was a jeweler and he piqued my interest in the industry at a young age. So, whilst I was too young to take over his business when he passed away, I narrowed down my initial career choices to a jewelry-making apprenticeship in Hatton Garden in London, or to join the market leader in diamonds, De Beers, with the promise of international travel. I chose De Beers and my story starts there.

Over the next 34 years, I had the opportunity to live and work all over the world with extensive stints in Africa, India, Europe, and the Far East, where I spent a lot of my career. Along the way, I had the chance to run several business divisions for the De Beers group – initially a regional sales business in Asia Pacific. I then stepped up to run a global trading business that needed a turnaround and transformation. We transformed our trading model, selling rough diamonds through online auctions in January 2008 – an industry first.”

He added, “We went on to establish a global leading auction business which acted as a catalyst for change across the wider diamond sector. I joined the De Beers Executive Committee in 2015 and went on to spend the last five years of my career with De Beers as Executive Vice President of Strategy and Innovation. Alongside developing the group’s strategy, I also set up a corporate innovation system for De Beers to compete in various sectors, including mining and retail, and helped them generate impactful ideas.

In addition to my responsibilities, I oversaw the establishment of Lightbox, a lab-grown jewelry business, and a blockchain-based trust platform for diamonds. These startups are now expanding. After 34 years in the diamond industry, I decided to launch my own jewelry business, Ventura Fine Jewellery, following in my grandfather’s footsteps. Currently, I am also involved in shaping the next phase of my career with other projects, alongside investment and advisory work.”

Balancing Long-term and Short-term Objectives

We were eager to learn about the approaches adopted by Neil Ventura to balance his business goals and visions. So, we asked, “How do you balance long-term vision with short-term operational needs?”

Neil Ventura shared, “I believe it’s crucial to articulate a long-term vision to inspire teams and overcome challenges. However, it is equally important to focus on short-term needs and continuously improve efficiency while exploring new elements to support the future state of the business.

Whilst not a hard and fast rule, I tend to try and spend circa 70% of my time on improving today, and circa 30% of my time building towards tomorrow, flexing around this rough time allocation as circumstances dictate. This sort of balanced approach between managing today and building tomorrow is something I heavily subscribe to, and that has featured consistently throughout my career.

Both in the way I approached my former corporate roles; and also now as an entrepreneur, advisor, and investor. This ethos is providing a solid business foundation for Ventura Fine Jewellery as we develop the business model both regionally and ultimately, globally.”

Current Offerings And Additions

Eager to learn more about the services offered by Neil Ventura’s company and if they are planning to add new products, we inquired, “Tell us more about your services and if you are planning to add something new in the future.”

Neil Ventura shared, “Our ambition at Ventura Fine Jewellery is to elevate the way modern, high-quality jewelry is experienced, and to offer a very bespoke, personalized service to every client we proudly design and create jewelry for. We become our clients’ ‘trusted guide’ through the process, using the wealth of knowledge, understanding, and pedigree my business partners and I have gained from working in the global diamond and gemstone jewelry markets over several decades.

The foundation of the business is our full-spectrum bespoke offering, from the simplest of designs to high-end creations. In addition to our bespoke offering, we bring to market our seasonal collections and one-off high jewelry pieces crafted with a – timeless-contemporary edge. Whatever we design, we aim to make jewelry with energy, personality, and a point of view that will revitalize how our clients look; enabling them to communicate a personal statement and as we like to say: ‘to look a little less like everyone else’.

Ventura Fine Jewellery is expanding to Dubai in the coming months. We are also seeking collaboration opportunities and focusing on sustainability in our business, including responsible sourcing and innovative materials. Additionally, we are constantly exploring technology initiatives to enhance the client experience.”

Assessing The Trends

Neil Ventura

We further asked, “What methods do you use to analyze market trends, and how have these influenced your business decisions?”

Neil Ventura shared, “As we set up Ventura Fine Jewellery, I find myself using a simplified version of the framework and tools that I put in place during my corporate life. With so many individual developments unfolding every day, it’s really useful to have a tool to be able to track a lot of these developments. Some of the tools available today can even help you understand the connections between these individual signals.

Sometimes these individual signals don’t go anywhere but often they combine to form interesting patterns, some of which go on to become full-blown trends – like climate change or a tech-led disruptive trend. In all cases though, the signals tend to be brewing for a very long time and this backstory can be fascinating to track.”

“For example, lab-grown diamonds have become a prominent trend in the diamond industry, seemingly appearing out of nowhere in recent years. However, their origins date back to the 1950s when the first diamond was created in a lab. This individual signal eventually merged with others to form a pattern, leading to the emergence of this trend. This pattern of evolution applies to other technologies and disruptive stories as well.

To anticipate and stay ahead of market trends, I analyze signals and patterns early on to avoid being late to the game. Instead of focusing solely on our industry, I believe it’s more valuable to explore adjacent and distant markets to gain insights into potential developments and possibilities. When making decisions related to trends, I prefer taking progressive steps. Initially, I become an early adopter, learning through practical experimentation. Based on that knowledge, I then decide whether to further develop an idea, pivot based on new information, or save the learning for later. I tend to advocate adopting similar approaches through my advisory work.” He added.

Reshaping Businesses: Digital Transformation

To learn more about the perspective of Neil Ventura on the impact of technology in his industry, we asked, “How has digital transformation affected your business model? What emerging technologies do you believe will have the most significant impact on your industry in the next five years?”

Neil Ventura responded, “Firstly, I am a huge advocate for innovation, and most innovation today is digital. I am also a fan of transformation, as established company mortality rates serve as a constant reminder of the need to transform existing businesses or risk losing relevance, often accelerated by disruptive new entrants. Transformation is a poorly defined, yet widely used term; I see it as a profound change in something that delivers a step change in performance. 

But digital efforts don’t always have to be transformative. Small developments that make a difference for customers can still be valuable. Achieving transformation through one overarching program is difficult. Transformation happens when a portfolio of carefully considered smaller initiatives come together over time. I am most excited about blockchain and generative AI. I have firsthand experience with blockchain as I had executive responsibility for the Tracr™ platform at De Beers. Platforms like Tracr, offer provenance, traceability, and storytelling, and I think platforms like this have the potential to transform the luxury space.”

Neil Ventura added, “And it is a movement that is already well underway. AI is also a real game-changer and the rate of innovation is already a testament to that. In the luxury world, AI is already changing and enhancing the creative work of designers; numerous marketing activities from product descriptions to marketing campaigns; and the retail experience. And despite the great progress made to date, we are only at the outset of the developments with both of these technology domains.  

At Ventura Fine Jewellery I fully intend to integrate aspects of both of these technology domains into our offerings and want to do so in ways that remain client-led and client-focused. I advocate for the same in my advisory work across the luxury and natural resource spaces.”

Employee Satisfaction

To ensure the success of any business, prioritizing employee satisfaction is paramount. We asked, “What strategies do you implement to maintain high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction?”

Neil Ventura replied, “In my experience, one thing that helps with employee engagement is co-creating a sense of mission with them, aligned to a compelling future state for the business. For example, when we embarked upon the auction model back in 2008 at De Beers, a real sense of mission to be the first in the industry was created, and the team moved mountains in just three months to get to the start line.

On top of this, I believe two other aspects assist with satisfaction. Firstly, it’s always important to have fun. This is often underrated or even frowned upon in some settings, but a work environment with no sense of fun is in my view a dire place to spend most of your waking hours. Secondly, wherever possible it’s important to try and constantly create opportunities for people to learn and explore new things so they can grow, and you can grow with them. I think a mission plus fun, learning, and growth is a good formula for success.”

A Reputable Brand, We asked Neil Ventura

Lastly, we asked, “How do you want your business to be remembered, and what steps are you taking to secure that legacy?”

Neil Ventura concluded, “On a professional level I would like to be remembered as having built a unique and respected fine jewelry brand that played its small part in changing how jewelry is experienced for the benefit of those wearing it, but also for the industry as a whole. And to achieve this with my lifelong partner, who is a designer and the creative force behind the brand, is a unique and very special opportunity. It’s baby steps right now for us here at Ventura Fine Jewellery, but we are actively trying to move towards that every day.

I have been very fortunate throughout my career thus far to have amassed a great deal of global knowledge, experience, skills, and understanding; alongside a ‘black book’ of exceptional global contacts, and so I think it’s important that I use this platform I have created over the last several decades to bring about some positive change, and help others to find their voices for them to contribute to that change as well. It’s an exciting time for me, and for Ventura Fine Jewellery, and I am relishing it.”

Follow Neil Ventura on LinkedIn.

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