True confessions: why blakeman’s fine jewelry fell hard for Christopher Designs’ diamonds
By Jennifer Heebner
Ben Blakeman remembers when he became a devotee of Christopher Designs: it was nine years ago and the day of his first diamond sale after joining his family’s Rogers, Ark – based Blakeman’s Fine Jewelry. His best friend of 30-plus years came in with his fiancée to shop for an engagement ring.
Blakeman, now president of the store, took them to the Christopher Designs case first.
Christopher Designs offers proprietary diamond cuts that deliver brighter, whiter stones with bigger looks for the money. Blakeman suspected that the brand might be a good fit for his friend, who was looking to impress his fiancée by getting the best value for his budget. As soon as his friend’s future wife slipped a long Crisscut Classic emerald-shape center stone ring onto her finger, she was obsessed!
She could see they would get a larger, brighter silhouette for their budget because of the innovative cut.
“She said, ‘I don’t need to see any more rings—this is the one for me,’” he recollects her saying. “That longer shape complemented her hand, and the brilliance factor was an eye-opening experience. Hearing and seeing how much they appreciated the cut and the look convinced me that the line was special.”
From that point on, Blakeman always took clients to the Christopher Designs case first. The brand also continued to build on its success with the debut of the L’Amour Crisscut diamond cuts, with larger polished bottom facets that act as mirrors to top faceting. This move brightens the stone and provides the look of a diamond that is 30–50 percent larger. Not surprisingly, many brides—all of whom want their ring to be unique and one of a kind—have noticed.
“L’Amour Crisscuts feel unique and special to women, and the guy actually gets a bigger look for the money,” says Blakeman.
Even the store’s longtime watch specialist Burt Wilkinson crosses over timepiece cases to sell L’Amour Crisscuts. “The great value and the unique aspect of the way they look and sparkle appeal most to brides,” he says.
At the beginning of the summer, a young couple snapped up Wilkinson’s favorite style, a 1.25 carat center L’Amour Crisscut. “It was one of the first rings I showed them,” he says.
Speedy sales are a phenomenon both Blakeman’s associates routinely experience. “Several times a month, couples come in and the lady sees a L’Amour and she doesn’t want to see anything else,” notes Wilkinson. Oftentimes, the design is the driver, with value and uniqueness cementing the purchase. “There’s no competition in that look,” he adds.
Jennifer Heebner Award-Winning Jewelry Journalist. WJA NY Metro Chap Pres. EIC: The Jewelry Book & JenniferHeebner.com. Writer: Rapaport & GemGuide. CPAA Exec Direc.