insider goods

What to Buy to Look Like: A Diamond District Jewelry Dealer

Photo: Courtesy of A24

Status can be a funny thing. Of course, it is most obviously expressed through shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting when you start to observe the more subtle signals — the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And, of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series “Insider Goods,” we’re talking to members of different tribes (some with their real names, some anonymously) to learn about the niche status items among Broadway actors, ballerinas, or brain surgeons

Today, we hear from Isaac Nektalov, president of Sashka Jewelry, and Kedem Deletis, owner of 47th Diamond District Corp. on the jewelers loupes, watches, and microscopes that are popular among dealers in the Diamond District.   

Jewelers are similar to surgeons and priests in that we deal with everybody — the good and the bad, they all come to us sooner or later. I look at literally hundreds of pieces a week, and I need to identify them, whether they’re good pieces, bad pieces, or forgeries. My specialty is in older pieces, and one-of-a-kind pieces. I’ve seen a piece that was owned by Czar Nicholas II that was like a $10 million sapphire, and I’ve seen the biggest collection of Fabergé in the United States. Since a lot of what we do is estate and antique pieces, it’s a lot of detective work where I have to be able to look at something and see the history and tell the age. There are so many indicators when you look at a jewel, like how it’s worn, the patina, or the cut of the diamond, all those little things. There’s a lot of forgeries on the market, and some really good forgeries, so it takes a lot of experience to tell. You can acquire a feel for a real piece, but you also need the right tools. For the detective work, GemOro makes some of the top microscopes on the market. —Kedem Deletis, owner of 47th Diamond District Corp.

We use a whole variety of tools, from tweezers to loupes, which are the glass things that look like little magnifying glasses. We have a bunch of those with different magnifications. Bausch and Lomb puts out jeweler’s loupes — we use theirs, they work well. A lot of people in the industry purchase these loupes and then engrave their company’s names on them for advertising. —Isaac Nektalov, president of Sashka Jewelry

A lot of the tools in the trade are tools that were not meant for jewelry in the first place. Torchlights for hiking, for instance, are actually very useful for looking at gemstones. When you’re assessing a gemstone, you need to look at the inclusions, which are the imperfections in the stone. Sometimes the microscope is good, but doesn’t show you enough to see the inclusions, and a flashlight will. I use this tiny, tiny handheld keychain LED for getting into the nooks and crannies. —K.D.

The scales that we use are either for diamonds or for gold, or sometimes both. If you’re in the diamond business, like we are, you’re using a smaller scale, like this one. If you’re purchasing gold off the street and you’re buying scrap, then you’ll need something bigger. —I.N.

ACME Cargo Wardrobe

Depending on how much inventory you’re putting in, and how much weight the floor can support, the vaults you use can be anything from a short little safe to a very, very big megasafe. Some people have walk-in vaults. We choose a safe usually by what its rating is. There are certain ratings that mean the safe is very hard to get into — insurance companies generally require you to purchase safes of a certain safety caliber. There are many safe companies out there such as Acme, Chatwood-Milner, Treasury, and almost all the safes are serviced and installed in the district by Lacka Safe Co. — I.N. [Editor’s note: Lacka Safe Co. is currently closed; in 2017 was rumored to be involved in an inside-job jewelry heist.] 

There actually used to be an old magazine in Miami published for jewelers only called Hidden Society. They had regular industry updates, jewelry gossip, and so on. But the name of the magazine — basically it means that most jewelers choose to blend in. The old generation, my generation, are pretty conservative, and wear suits or business casual. The new generation has their style — you can tell the new generation by the way they dress. On the street, they seem to have an affinity for big diamond watches or diamond chains. On average, the old-timer jeweler would not be wearing stuff that would be considered fancy or gaudy. I wear a Rolex and a chain, with a couple of charms on the chain that have meaning. The majority of jewelers and diamond dealers I know wear Submariners. It’s a great watch, it’s a simple-looking watch. It’s a workhorse. I have a jeweler friend who’s been wearing the same Submariner for about 40 years. — K.D.

I’m in retail so I dress a little nicer — the guy setting diamonds doesn’t need to wear a suit and tie. I like to wear Armani or Hugo Boss. It’s just a classic look, traditional. —I.N.

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What to Buy to Look Like: A Diamond District Jewelry Dealer