Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, as the saying goes. However, not all diamonds are created equally. This week I met Ron Arbusman, the founder of fine jewelry brand, Ammrada. For Ron, diamonds are a family legacy. His expertise as a third-generation diamond purveyor led him to work with high-end clientele like Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co., Graff, and Cartier, among others.
In 2022, Ron pivoted from his family’s business and founded Ammrada. This luxury jewelry brand crafts timeless, contemporary pieces with the utmost sophistication. Ron’s vision was to create jewelry that struck the right balance of aspirational and practical. To create unique pieces, Ron takes a deliberate, artistic approach.
Ron and I chatted about his vision for Ammrada, upcoming trends, and our shared appreciation for vintage jewelry.
Ron, you have a background in the jewelry industry that stems from birth. As a third-generation diamond purveyor, how did your childhood shape your gemstone education?
At birth, [there] was more of [an emphasis on] gemstones [and] diamonds. You travel the world, you find items. A consumer would come in more with a budget than with anything in mind. [In the] 1980s, [I was] boxing and seeing vendors come in from around the world with their suitcases [of products].
[It is] very different [from] what [it is] today because the consumer is over educated. I think the end result is they’re not really getting what they want. They’re getting what’s at the top of the feed, but that feed is so cumbersome and saturated. The opinion keeps changing.
I think that’s a big reason why there’s that copy of the copy [because the] social influencer posts jewelry. That’s what’s trending, but it doesn’t mean it’s quality jewelry. I think [this] is where the industry is very heavy right now, in the female category. The social influencers who have zero industry experience, but they’re good on social media. What they could get their hands on is what they can tell their followers is trending, even if it’s not a good product.
What Ammrada tries to do is find products which are unique. [We] find raw materials that are unique and then make finished pieces that are designed around the center stone and around the production capability. [It offers] the customer a better product, like they used to have in the 1980s or in the 1990s.
What inspired you to start Ammrada?
Ammrada is more than anything, a person trying to make a living, to be honest. But going beyond that, it’s me being around jewelry my whole life knowing how it can be made well. It’s definitely unique. It has a throwback vibe to it. It has a lot of traditional craftsmanship.
It’s really an homage to the legacy brands. I feel like today they’re really the only ones that do it right because it takes so much more effort.
I was a diamond dealer for a decade. I sold a very niche, elevated product. A lot of it went to these legacy brands, which I learned so much from. [I realized] I can never make a living selling low-end products in volume. So I’ll focus on a better product and offer the consumer the best product I can. If you look at our backings, and you look at Van Cleefs backings, they’re very similar. If you look at our hinges and you look at Cartier’s hinges, they’re very similar.
I pay all the respect I can to 150 years of craftsmanship. I tried to learn as much as I [could] from big brands. Look at Oscar Heyman, the story behind them, [and] how they produce for these major brands. They also started by producing for other people and then they worked in their own brands.
How did you end up choosing the name Ammrada for your business? What does the name represent?
Ammrada is a mix of letters [that represent] my family. It’s three heart notes with a circle in the middle. Essentially, it’s who you are, where you come from, and the legacy you leave behind. I always tell people that for me, the heart note is myself and my wife, our parents, and our kids.
Besides being the brand’s founder, you’re also a creative director. Can you tell us about your creative process for jewelry design?
I’m a creative director, so I design a lot of the pieces, but more of them are created by our designers. We subcontract designers that work for major brands. We use the best materials. We want to focus on yellow gold to begin with. We have two high-end lines which are coming out now, which are more couture. But it’s all based on quality and wearability.
When we started Ammrada, there were all these questionnaires [about the company’s aesthetic]. One answer was practical. And the other one was high quality. And [people] said to me, Ron, generally they don’t go hand in hand. I said if she can’t wear with Lululemon and then also wear it to dinner, it shouldn’t be in [her] everyday life. Today, no one wants a piece of jewelry that’s worn once a year.
Since you’ve had a lifetime education in the jewelry industry, you must have seen tremendous changes. How has the jewelry industry transformed over the years?
It’s shrunken, and it’s become less unique. There [are] the TAFFINS and the Hemmerles that are keeping [jewelry] beautiful. A jeweler [who] studies botany for half a year in order to create a product line. That’s unique today, but in the past that was what people did in order get [their] creative juices flowing and create a proper line.
I think today everything is shrunken into the standard, [like the] solitaire engagement ring. You see these vintage pieces and there are no two that are alike. The focus on Ammrada is to be a little different [and] unique. Ammrada is not for everyone. It’s for those who admire our type of product. The uniqueness goes a long way to those who enjoy our product.
When we started mid-COVID, we felt like when you walk into a lot of these top retailers, there’s a copy of a copy of a copy there. We [want to] go back to the originals and try to recreate products that really have a sense of worth to [them].
What are some up-and-coming jewelry trends we should look out for?
The one we’re focused on is chunky yellow gold. It’s fun, it’s enjoyable. I think it definitely speaks to the times. Ammrada can evolve with the times because we’re always creating new pieces. Jewelry is expensive and chunky yellow gold speaks to that.
What should our readers keep in mind when shopping for fine jewelry?
Buy quality stuff. It’s not something [you should] leave in a drawer and forget about. It’s something [you should] enjoy. My father always told me to go to celebrations because you never know when the bad things happen. [When] you wear jewelry and you feel beautiful, you know you love it. So if you buy nice jewelry, wear it all the time and enjoy it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.