Marketing Technology, Inc. Blog

Diamond Retailer Grows Business With Great Service And Beautiful Jewelry

Posted by Linda Greenwald

Protea Diamonds • Beautiful Jewelry • Personal Attention • Great Service • Repeat Customers

I asked Anthony Taitz, owner of Protea Diamonds in Arlington, Va., to talk about his background and success  as a diamond jewelry retailer in the Washington, D.C. metro area.  

Q&A with Anthony Taitz of Protea Diamonds, Arlington, VA  

      Love Is In The Air

Protea Diamonds Logo Diamond Wedding Bands
Anthony Taitz, Protea Diamonds

Where did you first learn the diamond jewelry trade?

I learned the diamond jewelry trade in Johannesburg, South Africa. When I finished compulsory military service, I was offered a position in our family business to learn diamond cutting.

I spent three years learning to polish round and fancy diamonds as well as sorting rough diamonds, marking diamonds, cleaving diamonds, and dealing with wholesale clients all over the world. I was extremely lucky to have been taught by my former brother-in-law Moshe Duek who is one of the world’s most knowledgeable people on polished diamonds.

The diamond business is, normally passed down from generation to generation, and I feel very lucky having learned the trade as it is a complex industry, and people usually have to pay to learn every aspect of the trade. 

As a young adult, you moved to the U.S. from Johannesburg, South Africa. What U.S. city did you first live in and what was your first job?

In 1983 I moved to Dallas, TX to work for Protea Diamonds USA, which at the time had wholesale offices in New York, Atlanta, and Dallas, and a team of 16 salespeople on the road. My job was selling loose diamonds to jewelry stores throughout the United States. 

You married, became a U.S. citizen, had children and started your own business - Protea Diamonds in Arlington, VA more than 28 years ago.  What do you like about living in the Washington, D.C. metro area? 

The main reason I moved to Washington, DC was because my wife (who I met in Dallas, TX) moved here and I, like a lovesick puppy, followed her. Washington was central to a lot of the territories I was working as a wholesaler. What I love about Washington is its proximity to New York, the ocean, the mountains, as well as the fact that it is a cosmopolitan city with lots of culture and museums.

Did you have any retail experience before opening Protea Diamonds? 

From a very young age, I used to help my dad in his business. He had a business, Union Army Stores, which was in downtown Johannesburg at the corner of Loveday & Marshall Streets, selling overalls and gum boots to the mining companies. While working at Protea Diamonds South Africa, I used to sell to busloads of tourists who came to visit our diamond cutting factory. 

I understand that you are good at honey-do and handy man type projects such as fixing the dryer, fixing electronics and so on.  Did you learn these skills growing up? 

I’ve always been very good with my hands. My late father had a workshop with a lathe and many other tools, so from a young age I was always busy fixing things. This now translates to jewelry design and repair work where I have learned skills such as mold-making, soldering, setting, sizing, and crafting pieces of jewelry.

What are some interests outside of work that you pursue for fun? 

I enjoy photography; as a kid I had my own darkroom. I enjoy playing acoustic guitar. My passion, however, is fishing. I am a member of the Potomac Smallmouth Bass Fishing Club and have built my own motorized kayak.
Protea Diamonds:  Engagement Rings, Wedding Bands, Diamond Jewelry And Jewelry Repair

Why did you decide to open Protea Diamonds?

After working on straight commission for three years, I decided to live the American Dream and open my own business. It was also an opportunity to become an American citizen, and this had always been my dream since childhood. 

Has Protea Diamonds always been a “by appointment” retailer?

Yes. While travelling the country as a wholesaler, visiting thousands of jewelry stores, I realized that most stores had a salesperson on commission who was not very knowledgeable, trying to push products onto anybody who walked in the door.
I realized there was an opportunity for a boutique-style jewelry store where you have an intimate setting, dealing with the customer in a more personal way. 

Your retail diamond business faces a lot of competition from other diamond retailers, department stores and online retailers. What are Protea Diamonds market niches? 

While selling wholesale diamonds, I realized when I would visit stores in remote places that there was no competition. Hence, there was also very little business to be done. I personally believe that competition is good for business. 
The Washington area has a very educated clientele where couples tend to have high-paying jobs and are very savvy. 
My strength is educating the clientele, and offering designer jewelry at fantastic prices. Protea Diamonds has been written up many times as one of the best places to buy a diamond in the Washington area. 

What items are first-time customers interested in buying? 

Classic Engagement Ring    

Most first time customers come in for engagement rings and wedding bands.

 What items are repeat customers interested in buying?

After most men have finished spending thousands of dollars with me, they always say “I won't be seeing you for a while.” 
Time after time, they come back for anniversaries, birthdays, and baby presents. They normally buy diamond earrings, diamond bracelets, diamond pendants, and anniversary bands. 

What jewelry do women buy for themselves from Protea Diamonds?

We have a lot of enterprising female customers who do not wait around for their other halves to buy them gifts. They often buy themselves right-hand-rings or diamond stud earrings. 

What do you keep on hand and what do you have custom made?

We carry an extensive inventory of designer jewelry in many different styles—antique, pavé and micropavé, modern, three-stone, channel or shared-prong. 
All the rings we have in-store are live (precious metal and diamond, as opposed to “metal” and cubic zirconia) and rings are made-to-order for each client, based on finger size and chosen diamond. 
We keep an inventory of diamond stud earrings, pendants, and bracelets for immediate delivery. We have the ability to do custom jewelry, should our clients have something specific that they want made.

Do you sell jewelry other than diamond jewelry?

Yes, we try to stick to the colors of the American flag (Rubies, Diamonds, and Sapphires), as these have a hardness of 10 on the Moh’s Scale and are more durable for everyday jewelry wear. We do sell other precious gems such as emeralds, opals, tanzanites, tsavorites, and pearls. The only thing we do not deal with is watches.

What are the steps involved in buying an engagement ring or other jewelry from Protea Diamonds? 

People usually call or email us to set up an appointment. We discuss their desires, establish a budget, and give them options for their particular needs. We work with all budgets and strive for quality without sales pressure. 

What is the biggest diamond you’ve ever handled or sold?

When I was an apprentice in South Africa, I personally transported (in my pocket) a ten-carat fancy intense pink diamond valued at $8 million in todays prices. The largest diamond I ever sold was to a Senator—it was a 12 carat emerald cut, F/VVS1, for $220,000.

Tell us about your jewelry repair business. What types of jewelry do you repair? 

Most of our jewelry never needs repair, however, because jewelry is worn on a daily basis occasionally people need repairs done or rings resized. We repair all jewelry we sell. We can, on a case-by-case basis, repair jewelry from other vendors as well. 

Can you share the love story of one of your clients?

One of our clients wanted to propose underwater on a scuba diving trip. After advising him that taking a $10,000 ring to the bottom of the ocean was a risky idea, I made a duplicate silver ring with a cubic zirconia for him to carry out his scuba proposal as planned. He then presented her with the real diamond ring over a candlelit dinner. 

Promoting Protea Diamonds

How would you describe the Protea Diamonds Brand? 

In life you have doctors, accountants, and jewelers. Some are just better than others.
I am the only diamond cutter and bench jeweler in the Washington, DC area. My passion for quality jewelry, attention to detail, and customer service is unparalleled. 

For someone interested in contacting Protea Diamonds for an appointment - what is the best way to reach you?

Give us a call at (703) 536-9822, or email us: Our toll-free number is (800) 333-8339. 
For Diamond Engagement Rings, Wedding Bands, Diamond Jewelry and Repairs – by appointment 
Contact: Anthony Taitz, Protea Diamonds

For Internet Marketing and Website Development Services
Contact: Linda Greenwald, Marketing Technology, Inc.

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