Dropping Jewels: 3 Tips for Breaking Into the Diamond Industry

Ken and Nicole Black of Philadelphia Diamond Co. share success and innovation

(Image: Philadelphia Diamond Co.)
(Image: Philadelphia Diamond Co.)

Power couple Kenyatta and Nicole Black are the driving force behind the Philadelphia Diamond Co., and they’ve recently completed their latest innovation: introducing the Queen Cut® diamond, a rectangular-shaped diamond covered with facets that sets itself apart from your usual princess, cushion, or round cuts.

For more than a decade, the two have worked together to build a company in an industry that often caters to consumers of color who enjoy a bit of bling, but reflects few behind the business of cultivating, designing, and selling diamond jewelry.

Kenyatta, who grew up in a family jewelry business, brings more than 15 years of experience in design, repair, and replacements to the company, while Nicole adds her corporate marketing savvy, making the two quite the duo to reckon with in the industry.

BlackEnterprise.com caught up with the Blacks as they turn special focus on their latest innovation to get a few tips on how to break into the diamond business:

Watch the consumer and find out what you can offer that is unique and has potential for longevity. “In 15 years, we’ve grown steadily. Our high, prior to the 2008 recession, was close to about a half-million dollars in revenue,” Nicole says. “We reinvented and focused the business on what people are still buying today. Previously, we were a broad scale jewelry store, so we sold earrings and tennis bracelets—whatever you wanted in jewelry. … We looked at what part of the industry is still growing, and people will always get engaged, they’re still falling in love and they’re still getting married.” The company offers an affordable, luxury-customized experience for couples to make their special day (and engagement rings) unique and unforgettable. Nicole says their revenue is set to hit $1.5 million after the shift in their offerings.

Get educated and work in the industry to gain structured experience and build credibility. Kenyatta not only built up his knowledge while working for his family’s jewelry company, but he’s also a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America who has worked for national brands including Bailey, Banks & Biddle, Littman Jewelers, and Zales. “I love working with my hands in terms of design, and I attended a jewelry design school as well to learn how it’s all engineered and how you keep a good balance in jewelry. Just getting the experience in working for a lot of different companies and putting in my own ideas and designs [contributes to] what we do today.”

Strengthen relationships in the industry by getting to know the top players and attending industry-related events. “It is an industry that is not well-known unless you’re into it. It’s very closed and very relational,” Nicole says. “Philadelphia has one of the oldest—if not the—oldest Jewelers Row. These jewelers go back generations.” The couple has also been able to spark and build relationships based on the customized process of what they offer, working with a select group of cutters, diamond suppliers, and other industry leaders who they collaborate with for the final product. “Having mentors [is also important],” Nicole adds.