Bling Bling, Baby


Yeah, I had a million bucks on my hand yesterday morning on the set of “Worldwide Exchange.”

Andrew Block, COO of renowned Jacob & Co. Jewelers, brought it for me. Notice that I say “brought” it, not bought it. I wish I could say it was a gift (perhaps for Bastille Day? or a Happy Monday?) but, alas, it seems diamonds are not this girl’s best friend.

But they are still a huge draw for some, Block said, and despite the recession consumers continue to shell out for high-priced items. The spending pulse index rose to 8.2 percent in June, which is also peak season for weddings and anniversaries and which may have helped boost growth and luxury sales and jewelry sales.

The luxury market hasn’t receded as other markets, Block said, in part because retail therapy—especially on splurge items—is always in season. “You buy it when you feel bad, you buy it when you feel good,” he said.

For a quarter of a century, Jacob & Co. has been the ultimate luxury jeweler, blinging out celebs including Beyonce, Kanye West and Sir Elton John. For years, the pop culture trend has been showy pieces, the blingier the better. But in recent years, Block said, consumers are drawn toward more subtle items, albeit still with hefty price tags.

“I think the only shift that we've seen is that there's a little more discretion in purchasing,” he said. “People aren't as flashy as they used to be.”

Wait—not as flashy? He told me that while he was helping me into a 22-carat radiant-cut diamond valued at $900,000. Hardly understated, if you ask me.

“It’s understated elegance,” he said, adding that the price comes from the craftsmanship: Every diamond is hand-set and perfectly matched. “Everything here is so labor intensive,” Block said. “It's not difficult to justify the price, but it's hard to understand. For the layman it's like, ‘I can't do $900,000.’”

Luckily for Jacob & Co., the layman isn’t the one to whom they’re catering. So I (reluctantly) take the ring off and give it back.


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