It is 10 pm in Denver, CO. I am currently in Tel Aviv, Israel where it is 7 am the next day, and I am wide awake and ready to go to work and grab a bite to eat. I love Mediterranean breakfasts. As I eat the many tasty foods, I speak with my wife on my cell before she goes to sleep. She tells me of a snowstorm going on in Denver. In Tel Aviv it is sunny and warm with robin-egg-blue skies and a gentle breeze coming in off the Mediterranean Sea. She jokes that I plan my trips overseas to avoid shoveling. Her voice is the first voice I hear in the morning, and the last I hear before I go to sleep while on my many overseas trips to Israel and India.
Now my attention turns to the reason I am here. I go through my check lists one last time. I am the Loose Diamond Buyer for Shane Co. I work for Tom Shane, so I have to be prepared. Buying diamonds is one of the major callings in my life.
At this moment Tom is in Bangkok, Thailand buying colored sapphires. We exchange a quick email and I jump into a taxi and am off to Ramat Gan, the industrial center of Tel Aviv. I have made over 80 trips for Shane Co. in over 13 years as Tom’s diamond buyer in order to supply our stores such as our Nashville location. I even lived in Tel Aviv for a year and a half. That was an interesting time and I will tell you about it another time.
As I enter the chaotically managed security of the Israeli Diamond Bourse I am instantly recognized and fast tracked through to the elevators that will take me to many of the elite diamond cutters in the world. As I enter the first office I am greeted with a hug by the owner of one of the diamond cutting firms. Working with the owners of these firms allows Shane Co. to have buying privilege shared by few. I like to say our diamonds are from the hand of the maker to the hand of our customer. We catch up a little and he tells me how his son is doing in the Israeli Defense Forces and the challenges he and his wife are having with their teenage daughter. Each country I visit has its own cultural nuances and in this business knowing the unique etiquette for each country and remaining firm to our needs as a company are one of the many interesting aspects of my job.
Now, it is time for business. The diamonds I will be carefully examining have been held in a safe just for Shane Co. I begin thoroughly evaluating hundreds of loose diamonds with my special loupe and a pair of tweezers that I have had for years (funny how you become attached to such things). The diamond offices can get very noisy at times. Negotiations can get a little fierce, but that is all part of the job. More than anything it is the Shane’s family reputation and the familiarity that they have with these diamond-cutting companies that allows me to be successful.
Looking at hundreds of diamonds I reject a notable percentage for reasons of our standards of quality. This is sometimes exasperating to the firms I work with. Because of the fact that I know these diamonds will be purchased from us for major life events like engagements and anniversaries, I bear down and select the brightest and best for each carat weight and quality. The better we buy, the better our customers buy.
Comparing the measures of diamond quality is not just letters and numbers for us. Two diamonds can have the same carat weight, color and clarity but look very, very different. We buy for exact quality specs but Shane Co. diamonds must have the “wow” factor of brightness and beauty. Every diamond we buy is hand selected, which means that we closely analyze every diamond, unlike most of the corporate jewelers.
This job is intensely personal to me. The diamonds I buy today will be hand selected by one of our customers as they choose both a dazzling loose diamond and one of the hundreds of mountings to create something wholly unique for the one they love.
As the business day draws to a close I am slightly fatigued. Back from a quick dinner, I am just about ready for bed. I have a chuckle as my wife bemoans the continuing snow and wishes me a good night’s sleep although with jet lag we all know that is hardly possible.