Q. What are your current titles/functions in the diamond industry, both private and organizational?
I am partners, with my brother, in Esskay Gems. In addition, for many years I have served in various roles on the board of the NY Diamond Dealers Club, and am currently the President of the Organization.
Q. Tell us about your journey in the diamond industry, how you began and where you are now.
As a second generation diamantaire, I have deep roots in the diamond industry. I joined my family’s diamond company, Esskay Gems, in 1985. Originally founded in 1942 as Sam Krischer Diamond Company, my father was a pioneering figure in the industry, starting one of the most important diamond factories in New York with nothing more than diamond wheels mounted on lawn mower motors. From those humble beginnings, the company became an institution that gave many of today’s most well-known diamantaires their start in the diamond trade.
We have grown into a company that is considered a fixture in the New York diamond market. We carry a large assortment of GIA graded diamonds as well as an inventory of non-graded diamonds in all shapes and sizes, each individually sourced by myself and my brother. Our retail and wholesale customers know that if an item is in demand in our market, not only do we have it in stock, but that it will be a gorgeous stone at a fair price.
Q. What is the current situation in US diamond and jewelry markets?
We are seeing strong demand in the US market across the board. Although there was some uncertainty in the market as pricing was sharply increasing, pricing has stabilized and there is both strong trading activity in the wholesale sector as well as strong demand from US retailers. With program goods in strong demand, we expect this upcoming season to continue this positive trend.
We are also seeing a renewed demand for investment-grade diamonds. This tracks with the general upsurge in capital allocated to alternative investment strategies in the US during this inflationary period.
Lastly, we are continuing to see the prices of laboratory grown diamonds fall both at wholesale and at retail. That this has occurred during a period of extraordinary growth in the value of natural diamonds over the same time period has been a significant driver in further differentiating these two product categories and their value propositions.
Q. How has Covid and the war in the Ukraine impacted the local diamond and jewelry industries?
Covid has shown the incredible resilience of the local diamond and jewelry industries. Our industry was a model of getting people back to work safely. As a result, our industry was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the increased demand for luxury goods during the latter half of Covid. Despite supply chain issues in many parts of the economy, as we have a strong local manufacturing industry, we were able to keep up with demand and more than recoup the losses of the first half of that year.
The pandemic also had the effect of shocking the production side of the diamond industry. While this had a very positive short-term effect in reducing the high inventory levels of wholesalers and retailers in the US, it has also helped rationalize diamond production on a go forward basis and has kept it matched to demand.
The war in Ukraine has had and continues to have a significant effect on the supply of diamonds. Small goods have dramatically increased in price, and supply uncertainty risks shortages in certain diamond categories. Although these changes have been significant, the trade has adapted to these changing conditions and continues to find ethical ways to effectively service our customers.
Q. Looking forward, how will the local industry fare during the second half of the year? In 2023?
Looking forward to the near future, I am very optimistic for the continued strength of our industry and the US market in particular. The last few years has seen right-sized production, healthy inventory levels for wholesalers and retailers, and continued evidence of the value proposition of natural diamonds. As household balance sheets in the US are still strong and well above 2019 levels, we expect that healthy demand will continue the positive trends we have seen in our market.
Q. What are the challenges and opportunities facing the US diamond and jewelry industries?
I think that both the challenge and opportunity in today’s diamond market is one and the same. To the extent that our segment of the diamond industry can move in sync and work together will determine the continued strength of our industry. Our industry is unique. Every supplier in our industry, no matter how large or small, must come to the market to fill orders. We are all interdependent and moreover dependent on the health of that market. Only by working together can our industry continue to flourish.
Q. Tell us about your interests/family and anything else you would like to add.
As I mentioned, our family has been in the business since 1942. My brother and I strongly believe in this business and have both brought our children into the business to be the third generation of Krischers in the diamond trade. My father not only trained us and left us a flourishing business, but most importantly, he left us his good name. A name that has opened doors to us all over the world and is the basis of our success. At the end of the day, we care about this business and its long-term viability because, uniquely, it is an industry that rewards integrity. That is why we have brought the next generation to continue the Esskay legacy, which is what we hope to leave to our children.