Many firms in Manhattan's Diamond District have been passed down from parent to child and some date back four generations. But mom-and-pop jewelry operations have dwindled as major brands like Cartier, De Beers and Van Cleef & Arpels dominate the market with worldwide advertising and marketing campaigns.
The William Goldberg Diamond Corp. aims to fuse the business methods of both. Goldberg, who died in 2003, founded his namesake firm in 1973 after being a partner in diamond-cutting company Goldberg & Weiss, which he helped start in 1952.
With a penchant for diamonds and gemstones, Goldberg began selling small stones such as tapered baguettes. Eventually he became a go-to person for important colored and colorless diamonds and acquired extraordinary stones. They included the 136-carat Queen of Holland diamond, the 30-carat Blue Lili diamond, the 89-carat Guinea Star and the D flawless Premier Rose diamond, which Goldberg acquired, cut and polished in 1978.
Goldberg left the business to his family. His son, Saul, took over as president; his daughter, Eve, and son-in-law, Barry Berg, are both executive vice presidents, and his widow, Lili, is treasurer. In 2006, the City of New York named West 48th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues "William Goldberg Way."
"My father went door-to-door selling baguettes," said Eve Goldberg. "We were diamond manufacturers. It was basically selling loose goods in a mounting. We've come a long way."
To shore up its diamond supply, William Goldberg formed a joint venture with Leo Schachter Diamonds, a Diamond Trading Co. Sightholder, in 2004. The contract has been renewed for another three years. This spring, the firm is opening a new facility in Gabarone, Botswana, to cut stones from 5 carats and above and employ as many as 20 workers. William Goldberg projects the factory will put out 1,200 carats of diamonds a month.
William Goldberg wholesales diamonds for major brands and also sells privately in its West 48th Street headquarters. But the focus will turn from loose stones and wholesale selling to finished jewelry pieces, many of which are made on the premises. The firm wants to brand its name, similar to Harry Winston and Graff. The brand is now broken down into 80 percent jewelry and 20 percent loose stones. Five years ago only 40 percent of the sales came from jewelry and 60 percent from loose stones. The company is targeting $150 million in sales this year."We're a jewelry house, we're no longer a diamond house," Berg said.
Within three years, the company intends to only supply jewelry and loose stones above 10 carats.
"This movement has been in the works for 20 years," Saul Goldberg said. "People would approach us at the Basel show and say 'We can't put loose diamonds around our necks.' Our history in stones translates into fantastic jewelry."
William Goldberg's clients come from around the world and are predominantly international. Russia, China, the Middle East, India and Europe are its most important markets in order of importance.
To help build the brand name, the company has employed a number of strategies. A luxurious upstairs selling salon is being established on East 48th Street, where clients may come on an appointment basis. There are also plans to open a traditional storefront in the Ginza district in Tokyo and other markets.
In 2006, the company tapped Lauren Bergman as its creative director. Bergman previously worked for the now defunct Vivid Collection. Styles range from elaborate mixed-cut diamond chandelier earrings to intricate bracelets with prices in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The company also has done one-off partnerships with designers. In 2005, William Goldberg tapped Narciso Rodriguez to design a bracelet featuring Goldberg's proprietary Ashoka diamond cut. Last year, it collaborated with L'Wren Scott on a pair of rough diamond cuffs that Nicole Kidman wore to the Academy Awards.
"My father always said that no matter what we make, quality is the most important thing," Eve Goldberg said.
Saul Goldberg recalled another motto his father lived by and that he has adopted: "As long as you can afford them, buy as many diamonds as you can."
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
After showing in front of the Eiffel Tower for his last two women’s ready-to-wear collection, it looks like @anthonyvaccarello may be heading to the Big Apple. Sources say the designer will stage his next @ysl show in NYC on June 6. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion