Bucking the trend of online-buying, Diamonds on the Rock at 5640 La Jolla Blvd., stands solidly in place as a bastion of personalized service and customer care. Owner Debra Levine makes sure of that.
"Because diamonds are so unique," she explained. "They're not something you can just 'order up.' If you're buying a diamond, you want quality and service, and someone to help you with knowledgeable recommendations and tips on style and wear-ability — which are totally different. You can have something that looks really great, but the wear-ability is just not practical. Also, when you buy online, you don't have the owner to look you in the face after you tell them all the stones fell out because of this or that ... you're missing the personal touch, which is what I like to provide."
Diamonds on the Rock opened in 2015 with quality diamond rings, jewelry, wholesale diamonds, estate jewelry, vintage jewelry and customized pieces. The store also handles repairs and appraisals.
Levine, who said she grew up in the jewelry business, owns the store with her son, David. Her grandfather was a jeweler in New York and opened his first store in 1919. Her dad also owned a jewelry store, which Levine worked at after college and before attending The Gemological Institute of America, which is now in Carlsbad, but at the time was located in Santa Monica.
Before opening her store on La Jolla Boulevard, Levine said she was a diamond grader and also taught a course on diamonds. She ran a wholesale diamond-importing business with her husband and worked at other jewelry stores before breaking out on her own.
Now after four years, she explained: "I'm always fine-tuning my inventory, seeing what is popular. People still like a lot of custom, unique pieces. As far as engagement rings, people are changing their style preferences. Yellow gold is getting popular again. Rose gold, too."
She added that customers are interested in a more delicate, layered look in jewelry these days. Simple designs are coming back, replacing the big halo-style rings. "They want diamond rings with just a few stones on the side — like clothing, the styles change."
Since Diamonds on the Rock is located between La Jolla and Pacific Beach , clientele comes from both directions. She said sees more people coming in from Pacific Beach wanting engagement rings, and more people from La Jolla buying jewelry or redesigning their rings. "It's all referrals, so I'm getting many more now. People who were engaged two years ago are now getting married and need wedding rings. And they bring their friends, so it's just growing. I keep on doing better and better," she said with a smile.
Levine is now selling lab-created diamonds, which are diamonds grown above ground and have the same chemical and physical properties of natural, mined diamonds. The process of growing such a diamond starts with high-quality diamond "seeds" that are grown from pure carbon, then placed in a microwave Chemical Vapor Deposition chamber, which is kind of like a diamond greenhouse. Hydrogen and methane gas are introduced into the chamber and ignited into a plasma ball under high heat. The diamond grows layer by layer within about 12 weeks, then is cut and polished just like a mined diamond.
She said the cost of lab-created diamonds is 30-percent less than mined diamonds, and it's hard to tell the difference. Some customers are attracted to lab-grown diamonds because they're created above ground with less environmental impact. Levine added that it's all about giving her customers new choices and options.
She credits her steady success to her personable and sincere approach: "I look out for my customers. When I'm selecting a diamond, I want to make sure that it's the best one. I do really care. And I think people get that."
• Diamonds on the Rock is located at 5640 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla. Showroom hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; Sunday by appointment; closed Mondays. (858) 750-2190. diamondsontherock.com
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