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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who Ate Our Lunch?

I was speaking with a friend recently, an erstwhile successful diamond dealer/broker, and he told me that his declining family business will probably suffice to marry off his children, but unfortunately it will no longer be a business his kids can actually go into. He said one thing he hopes his kids come to realize is that in business you have to be alert and change with the times.

Another friend from the same industry, also quite successful in diamonds in the past, is already 'out' of 47th Street, but he's not yet 'in' to another business.
He whiles away the time getting on his wife's nerves at home.

I met yet a third friend, from the jewelry business, in kosher gym in the middle of a business day. He was recently laid off, and cannot find anything else after spending his entire career in jewelry.

For generations, jewelry and precious stones have been uniquely Jewish businesses. Historians speculate that Jews always needed to be able to leave their venue fast, and take their fortune with them. Moreover, in medieval times, Jew were prohibited from crafts and landowning.

Twenty five years ago the predecessor to a B & H job was "schleifing", and the first thing a typical kolel alumnus learned was diamond cutting. It was a good career, and also a good preparation for related businesses.

So why is a Stanford MBA with no diamond or jewelry background running a company (Blue Nile - see NYT article here or here) that ranks only behind Tiffany and Company in diamond sales . . . a company that has largely bypassed 47th Street and is based in Seattle . . . a company that sold a dozen $50,000 diamond pieces and thousands of smaller ones last month alone . . . a company that has all but bankrupted the 'Main Street jewelers' who were the mainstay of 47th Street and its former army of traveling dealers, brokers, and salesman?

Mark Vadon, chairman of Blue Nile, did something that many on 47th Street could have done, as Martin Rappaport ( a shomer shabbos) did three decades back when he rationalized the diamond trade and market prices in the 1970's.

So why did Mark Vadon, MBA bring diamonds into the 21st century rather than Itche Sender Hasenczenik?


The internet is

(And parenthetically, why don't Hamodia and their ilk cover important and useful business news for our community such as this and leave it to the NYT?

Covering the internet is osur.)


Blogger TheProf said...

One of the main peeves that this blog has with the "gedolim-institution-jewish media" complex is their almost complete ostrich syndrome of pretending that the internet doesn't exist, albeit at the same time assuring all use or access to the internet. Interesting concept. Leapa brought out two different problems in our community today, banning all internet use and education in its use, even if it's commercially viable and useful...and the downsizing or disappearance of old traditional Jewish methods of parnosa for various reasons. The diamond and jewelry trade became more concentrated in very large companies and the business plain and simple changed away from the old time fractionalization that gave easy access to a nice parnosa. Problem is now, all these guys have no other career or talent other than diamonds or jewelry and are basically dead in the water at the ages of 45 and up. Ages when it is quite difficult if not impossible to either change careers or find a good paying job. Gets us back to another issue, secular education. to be discussed if Leapa decides to touch that touchy subject.

10:22 AM  

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orthodox jews and the internet.