Personalities

This Is What a Diamond Dealer’s Engagement Ring Looks Like (It’s as Spectacular as You Might Expect)

Los Angeles. Sept. 4, 2020. When the daughter of a diamantaire gets engaged, you better believe that diamond engagement ring is going to be special. So, when Melanie Goldfiner, director of business development for Rahaminov Diamonds, owned by parents Amir and Tamara Goldfiner, got engaged, the selection of the diamond for her ring was a big deal. And the size of her center stone? Equally impressive.

But let’s start with the couple before diving into details of the ring. Melanie Goldfiner met her now fiancé, Daniel, her freshman year at the University of California Los Angeles. He was a few years older and they spoke only briefly. Five years later, Goldfiner was flipping through profiles on the JSwipe app (“It’s like the Jewish Tinder,” she says) when she saw a familiar face: Daniel’s. They connected and chatted on the app, then met for drinks that led to dinner. They dated, became exclusive, and fell in love. Three years later, they discussed marriage but not details of when an engagement would occur.

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Then the pandemic hit and Rahaminov offices, like many other businesses, closed. It was during this time that Daniel, a mobile engineer, decided to propose. But before enlisting Rahaminov’s help in securing a diamond, he first called Amir and Tamara with another request: Could he have their daughter’s hand in marriage?

“My wife and I were sitting outside next to our pool when he called me at the end of March,” recollects Amir. “He said, ‘Thank you for raising such a beautiful daughter, I would like your permission to marry her.’ I started crying.”

With parental permission secured, the hunt for the stone began. While Rahaminov routinely has a large inventory of diamonds on hand, the right stone for Melanie’s engagement ring wasn’t in stock. It wasn’t because her choice was a surprise—everybody at Rahaminov knew what she wanted.

“She always kept me posted on what she wanted,” says Nicol Goldfiner Barlev, Melanie’s sister, who runs production and design with their mom. “I have a whiteboard on the wall in front of my desk where she wrote down her ring size and style she wanted, just in case he ever asked.”

And what she wanted was an elongated emerald cut upwards of two carats in size with a double halo design.

When Daniel rang Nicol about the ring, that size stone wasn’t in inventory, so it took a few weeks before she, and eventually her dad (who pitched in to help source), could find one.

“It’s really important that a girl is happy with her ring, but especially in this industry; we knew she would be picky,” says Barlev.

Because of the quarantine, finding the stone wasn’t as easy as some might think. The family didn’t want to choose one that was too deep or too shallow in cut. Ultimately, they turned up options and narrowed down choices for Daniel. “He just wanted her to be happy,” notes Barlev.

Proof of that directive was obvious in his decision. Amir offered him a beautiful 1.8 ct. center stone, but Daniel said he wanted to give her a bigger diamond. The final choice? A 2.90 ct. G-color, VS1-clarity elongated emerald cut with a double-sided halo in 18k white gold. Rahaminov’s own bench jewelers (safely) returned to work to craft the ring. The shank is plain (no diamonds at all).

“I told Melanie she couldn’t have diamonds on her band because she is tough on her jewelry,” says Nicol. “Her band is thick and plain to fit her lifestyle. A lot of girls today want a band as thin as they can get with stones all around. It’s a beautiful look, but not the right kind of ring for Melanie.”

And why not platinum, the rarest of the metals, for such a special ring? Practicality. “Gold is a little stronger than platinum and holds the diamonds better. If we were just making a plain solitaire, we probably would have gone with platinum, where you don’t lose metal over time. But with a super pavé-intense look, we like to err on the side of caution by using 18k gold.”

Once the ring was ready, Daniel held onto it until one fine day in May, the 15th. He and his would-be bride were taking lots of walks for exercise since their gym was closed, so he coordinated with friends to make the proposal.

As they headed outside on a waterfront near their Southern California home to stroll, Daniel brought binoculars. Melanie didn’t think much about it since her beau was a gadget guy. As they walked, he looked through the binoculars across the water to a residential area opposite their location. He told her, “I think I see our friends,” a believable statement given they did have friends who lived in that direction. Daniel encouraged her to take a peek.

As she did, squinting to adjust her sight, she saw what Daniel had planned: his brother holding up a banner reading, “Will You Marry Me?” Nearby friends were concealed by bushes to snap photos. Daniel then got down on one knee and proposed.

“I was completely surprised,” says Melanie.

“We were so happy we didn’t have to postpone the ring design because of COVID-19,” adds Barlev. “Love is alive. It was a good distraction during quarantine.”

Melanie Rahaminov and her fiance, Daniel

Melanie Goldfiner and her fiancé, Daniel

Melanie Rahaminov and her fiance, Daniel

Melanie Goldfiner being proposed to by her fiancé, Daniel

Melanie Rahaminov and her fiance, Daniel
Melanie Rahaminov’s engagement ring, made by her family’s firm: A 2.90 ct. G-color, VS1-clarity elongated emerald cut with a double-sided halo in 18k white gold.

Melanie Goldfiner’s engagement ring, made by her family’s firm: A 2.90 ct. G-color, VS1-clarity elongated emerald cut with a double-sided halo in 18k white gold. (The photo angle doesn’t reveal the second halo.)


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Personalities

Have You Heard About the Alex Sepkus Jewelry Van (Down by the River)?

Upstate New York. Aug. 26, 2020. Jeffrey Feero is at it again. First it was his dark comedic take on the pandemic, and now it’s how to sell jewelry during it. Enter, the van.

Feero, one of the principals at the helm of the New York City–based jewelry brand Alex Sepkus, bought a used 2002 Dodge Ram van with 204,000 miles on it and pimped it out for light living and road trips for the jewelry brand. The van’s interior has a Porta Potty, a freezer and refrigerator, a pressure cooker, and a two-burner stove. Additional amenities include an outdoor shower, a fire pit, and a popup tent. He parks at campsites at night to cook and sleep. Feero made about $11,000 worth of renovations to the van; the last thing he wanted to do during the pandemic was get on an airplane, stay in a hotel, or go to a restaurant.

The jewelry van from Alex Sepkus is for pandemic road trip

“I could easily spend that much on airplanes in a typical summer,” he says. “I’m saving a ton of money on rentals and gas, which will help because this will be a thinner year. Plus, the novelty of this matches the weird times.”

The van’s exterior, meanwhile, serves as advertising for Alex Sepkus, with magnetic graphics. For real. An industry friend asked him if he was insane, driving around with pictures of jewelry emblazoned on the sides. His response? Relax, they’re only visible when Feero is parked at a store. Before he leaves and returns to campsites, he swaps them out for signs for his blueberry farm. He even brings blueberry bushes with him to cement the ruse with nosy neighbors.

Van customized by Alex Sepkus jewelry for road trips

“I’ve never stayed at an RV park, but the other campers all want to know way too much about you,” he says.

To date, he’s taken a 10-day, 2,200-mile trip to Wisconsin and back, and there’s a second one being planned. Customers are happy to have Feero visit since his means of travel doesn’t put anybody at risk of virus exposure. They’ve even sold a few jewels. At one Midwest shop, Feero and the owner did a zoom presentation with a client, closing the sale in person on her porch. Everyone was socially distanced and wearing masks. That trip netted $30,000.

Van customized by Alex Sepkus jewelry for road trips

“Some people’s choices now are based on fear, but I can’t sit home and hide,” he says. “It used to be that retailers were sick of seeing dealers walk through the door, but now they’re happy to see someone. We have to do something creative to find business. If you’re waiting for the old way to come back, you’re crazy.”

Another peer rang Feero to say he admired his gumption. Feero’s reply? “I have no choice; I don’t want to starve.”

Van customized by Alex Sepkus jewelry for road trips

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Personalities

Meet Jewelry Designer Cora Sheibani and Her Gloriously Graphic (and Hard-to-Find) Gold Jewels

London. Aug. 24, 2020. Cora Sheibani has been bringing bold and colorful jewels to life for 18 years from the U.K. The founder of the same-name design house loves telling a story through graphic incarnations of themes like cacti, cupcakes, or eyes, the final pieces celebrating the vibrant hues and volume of art from the 1960s and 1970s.

Jewelry designer Cora Sheibani

Jewelry designer Cora Sheibani

“I’m obsessed with shape and color,” she explains in a phone interview. “My jewelry is heavy and solid, made in Switzerland and France, and my aim is not to maximize effect for profit—it’s made for how the jewelry feels when worn.”

Sheibani’s art-rich background paved an exciting path for her high-end offerings to take shape. Raised by an art dealer and design collector, Sheibani had childhood experiences as one of a kind as her jewelry, such as sitting as a model for Andy Warhol and painting with Jean-Michel Basquiat as a toddler. She studied art history at New York University and attended GIA in London before sketching out her own line and collaborating with goldsmiths in tune with her visual sensibility to bring them to life. Much of her work is cast, though pieces in Valence and Valence Plus are fabricated out of wire.

Voice by VicenzaOro

“I could not work with just anyone, I only work with those goldsmiths whom I feel understand my sensibility to shape and color and have a similar aesthetic,” she says. “Otherwise the interpretation is always wrong.”

Sheibani’s signature style of volume and color are evident in her Copper Mould collection, ice cream rings, frames, clouds, and more. In these works, plump symmetrical objects are made by thoughtful master jewelers in Switzerland and France; some pieces, like her Pudding ring from Copper Mould, are assembled with screws for ease of possible repair down the road. Gemstones of choice include hard stones like agate and nephrite jade but also faceted rocks like diamonds.

“I enjoy working with hard stones as much as diamonds,” she says. “Hard stones are not dainty, and I’m inspired by the graphic nature of them.”

Where to find Sheibani’s fantastic creations? Check her website for private exhibitions or reach out to her to set up an appointment to view jewels in person. The specialness of her jewelry—retail prices start at £5,000—doesn’t lend itself to online sales, nor does she wholesale to stores (save for the occasional gallery that offers a small selection of works for a limited time). No design is ever replicated in the same colors, and Sheibani travels worldwide to meet collectors for private shows. “When I was younger, I was told to make my pieces cheaper for wholesale, but I didn’t, and I think that has set me apart,” she says. “I’m still able to make very fine, well-made jewelry—it’s hard to find jewelry made to this standard. I appeal to a small market. I’m more of a destination jeweler.”

Pudding ring* in 18k rose gold with 20.65 cts. t.w. of pink opal and pink sapphire, $8,900; email info@corasheibani.com for purchase

Pudding ring* in 18k rose gold with 20.65 cts. t.w. of pink opal and pink sapphire, $8,900; email info@corasheibani.com for purchase (*Components are held in place by a concealed screw.)

Black Blizzard Cloud earrings in 18k white gold with black rhodium and 1.7 cts. t.w. spinels, $10,100; email info@corasheibani.com for purchase

Black Blizzard Cloud earrings in 18k white gold with black rhodium and 1.7 cts. t.w. spinels, $10,100; email info@corasheibani.com for purchase

Texan Cactus bracelet in 18k yellow gold has 137.2 grams of gold with 4.22 cts. t.w. tsavorites, $32,800; email info@corasheibani.com for purchase

Texan Cactus bracelet in 18k yellow gold has 137.2 grams of gold with 4.22 cts. t.w. tsavorites, $32,800; email info@corasheibani.com for purchase


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Personalities

Meet Shana Gulati of Shana Gulati Jewelry

New York City. Aug. 20, 2020. Shana Gulati of the eponymous jewelry design firm puts a modern twist on traditional Indian jewelry-making. Gulati sets upcycled diamond slices—tiny “residue” diamonds from Polki (flat-cut diamonds) designs—into sterling silver and 18k gold jewels in mosaic patterns held together by a proprietary resin-like substance.

“I found beauty in garbage,” she jokes about her signature look, one she spied in her home country of India and expanded on. Gulati unveiled her collection in 2012 after abandoning a career in law. After earning her JD and a master’s in international law, she struggled to find work despite her advanced degrees. Was she now overqualified for most positions? “I felt like the universe might be trying to tell me something,” she recollects.

In a moment of frustration and while venting to a friend, the pal urged her to take a more serious look at a gift that Gulati had dismissed as superfluous—her ability to turn something ugly into a something beautiful and coveted. “She told me, ‘You always put things together in the most beautiful ways,’” says Gulati.

Reluctant but intrigued, Gulati sat down with a sketch pad, inspired by a love of jewelry fostered by her own culture. “Polki means not the perfect cut,” she notes. “Polki diamonds are cut in uneven ways and thick slices, but my slices are much lighter and are byproducts of other cut diamonds. No two jewels can ever be same.”

With her family’s support, she started turning out pieces named after loved ones like her grandmother Veera and personal connections, including street names in Paris and New York City, where she resides part time. Everything, including packaging, is made in India, where Gulati shares her design ideas with jewelry artists who bring her pieces to life. Most of her jewelry is cast.

The bulk of her uncut stones, meanwhile, come from India from a manufacturer she’s worked with for eight years. Others are sourced from Australia and Canada. Diamonds take center stage in most designs, though the occasional pink sapphire or aquamarine has been known to appear. “Design has more to do with color scheme and aesthetic than anything else,” she says.

Retail prices start under $100. Find Gulati’s work in stores worldwide and in her own e-shop.

Jewelry designer Shana Gulati

Jewelry designer Shana Gulati

Julia studs in 18k gold vermeil with uncut diamonds, aquamarine, and silver resin, $188; available online at Shana Gulati

Julia studs in 18k gold vermeil with uncut diamonds, aquamarine, and silver resin, $188; available online at Shana Gulati

Arsha ring OS in oxidized sterling silver with uncut diamonds, champagne diamonds, and black resin, $298; available online at Shana Gulati

Arsha ring OS in oxidized sterling silver with uncut diamonds, champagne diamonds, and black resin, $298; available online at Shana Gulati

Halki necklace in 18k gold vermeil with uncut diamonds, aquamarine, and silver resin, $548; available online at Shana Gulati

Halki necklace in 18k gold vermeil with uncut diamonds, aquamarine, and silver resin, $548; available online at Shana Gulati


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