Jewelry: Diamond Futures
Soon after Polish immigrant Sam Kwiat arrived on Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century, he began peddling loose diamonds and discovered his knack for identifying high-quality stones and selling them to the burgeoning audience of downtown jewelers. Kwiat later became one of the first suppliers to establish his business in what would become New York’s diamond district, where the company—which today employs his son, two grandsons, and five great-grandchildren—continues to operate. In addition to furnishing jewelry retailers and manufacturers with diamonds, it has, for the past five years, been producing its own pieces bearing the family name—which in Polish means “flower”—and displaying a corresponding design motif.
Seeking to bring a greater sense of fashion and glamour to its jewelry, Kwiat recently appointed as its chief designer Janice DeBell, who had spent 20 years at Tiffany & Co., and is now developing pieces with contemporary designs and colored gemstones. The company also hired high-profile celebrity stylist Lisa Michelle Boyd to design a collection of stylish diamond pieces, including a large gold and pavé diamond cuff and earrings shaped like leaves.
The release of Kwiat’s first collection five years ago followed the company’s late-1990s merger with M. Ferman, Roisen & Ferman, another large diamond supplier. The two companies already were related by marriage: Sam’s grandson Sheldon had married Jacques Roisen’s daughter years earlier. Today, Kwiat’s workshop employs 15 master diamond cutters and 30 jewelry craftsmen, along with the members of three generations of the Kwiat family. The patriarch now is Sam’s 89-year-old son, David, who continues to design jewelry, including one recently finished, finely detailed, vintage-style diamond floral pendant. “My grandfather studies a pile of stones, moves them around, and eventually comes up with an artistic design,” says Greg Kwiat, Sam’s 27-year-old great-grandson, who is learning the diamond trade from his grandfather as well as his uncle Sheldon and father, Lowell. “He says the diamonds tell him what to do.”
While the stones may instruct David, each generation of the family obviously exercises an influence on the Kwiat collection—from the classic white and yellow diamond amaryllis brooch to finely crafted limited-edition platinum and diamond watches to a 14-carat peridot pendant, which can be worn as a necklace or brooch, set in a sleek design accented with diamonds. “All three generations have input in what we do,” says Greg. “It’s a true family affair.”
His descendants’ latest diamond acquisitions surely would impress Sam, says Greg. Among Kwiat’s extraordinary cache of stones is a recently acquired 34-carat fancy–intense pink diamond, which the jeweler has set in an Edwardian-style platinum necklace worth more than $18 million. The stone is the largest fancy–intense pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America has ever certified.