If you have been reading Gem Hunt for awhile know you know we like lifting the veil on the instagram stars that love diamonds like @champagnegem or @the_diamonds_girl so this week we give you the man behind @icerock_diamonds. With this interview, we have pro-tips from one of Los Angeles's best private jewelers and added bonus we like saying we got advice from the ice man himself. His favorite cut of diamond is pear and he is full of words of wisdom for those looking thrown down on a diamond purchase.
First, tell us about your background?
I was born in Israel and moved to the States about 14 years ago and have been in the diamond business since almost day one of moving here. I originally came to the U.S. to travel, but a family member who was in the industry suggested I give the business a try. At that point, I knew literally nothing about diamonds or this business – my father is a farmer and my mother is a teacher, so working in jewelry was never a thought that crossed my mind.
In the beginning, I was completely mesmerized by the beauty and sparkle of diamonds and at the same time quite shocked by the trade itself. To me, seeing a dealer buying a diamond for $100,000 without a blink of an eye blew my mind. Over time, my understanding of not only the trade grew, but also my interest in the more technical aspects of diamonds, like cutting, grading and what aspects add to a diamond’s value and beauty. I especially enjoyed learning how cut can affect not only the look but also the value of a stone.
Working for a few good companies early in my career really opened doors to the best and most well-respected diamond companies in the world. The diamond business is built entirely on reputation and relationships. A good reputation and strong relationships are everything to someone in my line of work. So, after several years of working for other people, I decided to start out on my own. I started IceRock eight years ago and my specialty is large stones. I also do a lot of work with private customers on custom pieces.
Why should people buy diamonds from a private dealer vs. a big company?
I think there are a few very important things working with a private dealer can give you that a retail experience cannot. Firstly, nothing can beat the personal experience of working "one on one" with someone. When walking into a big company/chain, you don't always know who you are dealing with. You may work with an employee who just started working there yesterday or who is leaving the company tomorrow. You also don’t know how deep their knowledge of stones and jewelry may be – surprisingly, many salespeople are not well educated in what they are selling. Plus, you may not end up working with the same salesperson over multiple visits or long enough to develop a rapport, which is incredibly important.
When dealing with a private dealer you know that he personally stands behind his brand and he will do everything he can in order to satisfy you, the client. You get personal, private service as well as guidance and advice if needed. Another key advantage is access to a vast inventory of stones as a private dealer usually knows a lot of people in the industry and can source almost any diamond a client wants. In contrast, retail stores typically take longer to arrange a few stones for a customer to see in person while a diamond dealer can oftentimes arrange a viewing in a matter of hours.
But even more importantly, one of the main reasons a person decides to go to a private dealer versus a retail store is the price. Private dealers offer far better pricing than a retail store can. A retail store has a high overhead so they need a high-profit margin while a diamond dealer who doesn’t have to pay for the storefront or the staff can sell for a quick and small profit in order to make the deal.
What should we look for when buying a quality diamond ring?
The obvious things are color, cut, and clarity, though I always tell clients to not get overly hung up on the technical aspects. That takes the romance out of the whole process. Don’t throw those things out of the window, but buy something you love the look of and that you feel something for and you can almost never go wrong.
That being said, while buying a nice diamond is obviously a huge part of buying a ring, a lot of people only think about the diamond and totally overlook the ring itself. A lot of rings these days are mass produced or very cheaply made with very little concern for quality or detail. The average person may not notice a low quality or poorly made mounting, but it does really make a difference. I don’t like to use off-the-shelf mountings for my customers if I can avoid it and I don’t work with jewelers who take shortcuts or are unskilled and do sloppy work. I work with an amazing jeweler who custom makes all of my rings. A well-made ring should be the perfect companion to your diamond. After spending all of that time and energy picking the ideal stone, you want the perfect ring to go with it!
Why do you love diamonds?
First off, I love the idea that something that took millions of years to create and that humans figured out how to pull from the earth and manipulate, can turn into the beautiful, sparkly stones we so highly value today. To me, that’s amazing. Frankly, I love the way they look. Over the years I’ve worked in the business, I have come to truly appreciate a beautiful stone. I appreciate the craftsmanship that went into cutting and polishing it and I love the fire, sparkle, and romance of diamonds.
What is your opinion on lab diamonds?
The subject of lab diamonds is a very hot subject in the industry these days. In general, I am not against them but I really must stress that the consumer must know what he is buying. Many people are swayed by the idea that lab diamonds are often made of the same material (carbon) as a natural diamond, therefore, thinking they must be exactly the same. What they may not understand is that just because they are made of the same material does not make the end product identical to what nature created both with regard to beauty and durability. After all, on the one hand you are looking at a product that was created by humans using technology in a short period of time versus something that was formed in the earth over millions of years.
In the past, lab grown diamonds were not specified as such on GIA certificates, which caused a lot of aggravation within the industry. Not knowing what you were working with made the trade tricky and difficult to know what you were working with. That left a lot of people within the industry with a negative opinion of lab diamonds.
In the end, the consumer needs to decide what they want and works in their budget. I do see a future for the lab-grown diamond business, though honestly I don’t believe a lab diamond can or will ever replace what nature created.
What is your favorite cut of diamond?
I would honestly have to say Pear shape diamonds are my favorite. The look of a perfect Pear shape is elegant and sexy so it’s a no-brainer for me.
Interested in working with this amazing jeweler- Sam of Icerock Diamonds? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to mention Gem Hunt to get the best experiance.