Leviev, which specialises in selling some of the world’s largest and most important diamonds, opened its first global boutique on Bond Street in 2006. Richard Weinberg is the man at the helm. Here, the charismatic CEO tells square mile why the mark-up on diamonds isn’t as big as most people imagine, how to get hold of a 100-carat stone, and why you have to be nuts to sell large diamonds…
On The History Of Leviev
Leviev is relatively new as a retail brand – this particular store on Bond Street was the very first to open, about six years ago – but the company’s history dates back almost 100 years. Our beginnings were in the wholesale side of the business, and in cutting and polishing very large diamonds. Leviev is one of the biggest ‘sightholders’ in the world, which means we get our diamonds direct from De Beers. Each particular sightholder obtains rough stones that can be polished according to their speciality – we obtain very, very large white diamonds and also we getsome important coloured stones as well.
Having said that, outside of what we already take from De Beers we also own some mines of our own in South Africa, where we take the diamonds directly out of the ground and cut and polish them as well; not many companies in the world have that degree of vertical integration. This has its challenges, but for me, at the retail end of the business, it is superb, because we have at our fingertips almost anything you could want.
On The Market For Very Large Diamonds
We happen to be on one of the best shopping streets in the world, but if you are in the market for a very important diamond – I’m talking 20-, 50- or even 100-carats – there are very few places you can walk into and ask for a 50 carat diamond. If you come into our store, we can actually show you two or three from stock. If you want a 100-carat diamond – d-flawless, the very best you can get – we actually have it in stock, sitting locked in my safe upstairs. To be able to do that is almost unique; there are maybe only one or two companies anywhere in the world where it’s possible to do that in store.
On Having To Be Crazy To Sell Diamonds
What I do is a little bit nuts. In an ordinary world, if you can make something for five pounds and sell it for ten or 15 pounds, that’s great. But if I have a diamond that cost us one, two or five million dollars, unfortunately – and I know people don’t understand this – you can’t ask $15m for it; it just doesn’t work like that. If I make a little ring and it costs me £1,000 to make, I could maybe get £2,000 or £2,500 for it, but if I’ve got a diamond that costs me $10m, there’s no way I can ask $20m for it – the customer would walk out the door. But in my company we love diamonds – so we are nuts enough to take a diamond that costs $10m and hold it in stock. It might take me three years to sell it, and even if I sell it for 3-4% profit, that’s a lot of little rings. A real businessman might say that’s not a proper business and I could have got more by investing the money; and they’re right, but if you want to be a large jeweller and hold stones like that, that’s what you have to do.
On Why No One Has Ever Cheated Him
The most important thing in this business is trust, and I love that about it. It’s the only business left in the world where if you came in and spent £10,000 or £1m on a diamond I would let you take it away with you, give you my bank account and tell you to send me the money. If you went into a shop to buy a suit or a shirt and said “thanks, I’ll come back and pay you tomorrow,” they would think you were mad, but that’s what we do, even if I don’t know you. What I do is a psychology, and it’s what I love – we deal with people all over the world, and no one has ever cheated me.
On Why No One Needs Jewellery
I always tell my clients that jewellery is a wonderful luxury – and I’m afraid nowadays it’s a very expensive commodity – but no one needs it. You’ve got to eat, you’ve got to have a house to live in – there are certain things in this world that you do need, and jewellery isn’t one of them. So when you come into our store it is a bit special; it is a treat.
And just think how wealthy these people have to be. If you want to spend a million dollars on a whim on a Friday afternoon you’re not worth a million dollars – you’re worth an awful lot more, because no one spends even 10% of their wealth just like that. We operate in something of a rarefied environment; we have fascinating people coming in; and we are surrounded by beautiful things, so we’re very fortunate.
Leviev, 31 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4QH; leviev.com