There are more than four c’s when it comes to buying diamonds at Atlanta Diamond Company. Color, clarity, cut and carats is the universally accepted standard for assessing diamond quality as developed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), but Ken Black would add cost and certification to that list.
Black has spent 15 years serving and educating customers in Philadelphia on the finer points of diamond buying. Now the second generation jeweler has brought his knowledge and know how to Atlanta.
“We are really transparent about everything. If you are not educated you can be taken advantage of,” said Black’s wife, Nicole, with whom he opened Atlanta Diamond Company in March.
Diamonds have a complex history and the average individual may find it overwhelming to a buy or create a custom diamond design. Black said he wanted to create a place where customers felt as comfortable as possible during the process. “Jewelers had the same reputation as car dealers,” Black said. And it wasn’t a reputation he found appealing. “I’m not a salesman,” he added.
He was 13 when he first considered joining the jewelry industry. It was the family trade and Black who had an insider’s view to the dealings between suppliers and sellers of gems decided there had to be better ways of doing things. He wanted to understand the difference between certain stones and their chemical composition and he wanted to engage his artistic nature so he studied at GIA before returning to work in the family business.
While continuing to build his knowledge and experience, Black would also design jewelry for his wife who at the time worked in corporate America.
Whenever Nicole Black wore her husband’s creations to work her colleagues would ask if he could make something for them. Soon, she was hosting co-workers at their home for jewelry consultations. “I thought, ‘This is weird,’” she said. So in 2002, Philadelphia Diamond Company was born.
Bringing the studio to Atlanta seemed like a logical next step and they found themselves fielding local requests for designs even before the studio was officially open.
While the company specializes in engagement rings and wedding bands, Black does custom designs of any sort. On display in the Atlanta space are examples of styles inspired by the Tiffany Atlas ring with Roman numerals marking dates of personal significance. There is also the Lace collection which requires a process of creating a web-like ring in a single cast that is so delicate Black compares it to casting a spider web.
The appointment only model allows them to work closely with clients to design the perfect item and whether it is a $500 necklace as one client recently requested or a $15,000 engagement ring, the process is the same.
Most clients have done some research before coming in and may have ideas about what they want. Black likes to establish a client’s budget at the start to be sure he or she is working within their range. The bulk of the budget goes toward the center stone. Once that has been selected, Black helps customers decide on a mounting and metal. He also encourages customers to add a signature touch to their final design such as an inscription or initials.
All of the design work is done in Atlanta or Philadelphia offering a flexible turnaround time in some cases as quickly as 24 hours though most designs are delivered in one to two weeks.
While diamonds still rule, Black has had more requests for green emerald and black diamond creations as well as tanzanite and sapphire, particularly in engagement rings.
In addition to creating new designs, Atlanta Diamond Company also performs repairs and re-designs of existing jewelry. Black even created a new diamond cut, the “Queen” cut which he debuted several years ago in Philadelphia. For the same cost of a Princess cut, clients can get a larger Queen cut diamond with more facets to maximize brilliance.
Black hopes new clients in Atlanta will have experiences similar to their longtime customers in Philadelphia. “It is a good feeling when you come out wearing a piece of art you designed,” Black said. “We have a personal relationship with people.”