We caught up with Leigh Jay Nacht in mid-May to tell him he had, again, taken the #1 spot in our Diamond District NYC Top 10 Jewelers award. For those of you who don’t know jewelry stores in the NYC Diamond District, this outcome is absolutely huge. First because there are about 1500 diamond stores in and around 47th Street’s Jewelers Row, so to make it into the top 10 means you’re in the top 0.7%. Then to take the #1 spot – divide that by 10 and you come up with the top 0.07%?!? That’s amazing!! So, when we met with Leigh we wanted details, and most importantly wanted to know the secret to his success…
Leigh was an absolute gentleman when accepting his 2017/2018 award (pictured above) and we were, to say the least, a little in awe. His stats are terrific and they formed the basis to make it into the Top 10. For those who did not read our Top 10 Diamond District NYC Jeweler Review, here are the stats… First, “LJN” Inc. has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Yes, that is normally impressive anyway, and our records show that only 35 of the Diamond District NYC’s best stores have that distinction. Next, Leigh’s business has 60 YELP reviews. 54 of which are 5 star and four of which are four star. THAT is hard to achieve. The reason is that people are more prone to complain rather than compliment. Next, we were very impressed with his 11,249 Facebook likes. Yes, people can buy them; however 11,000+ is big. We also think LJN’s return policy is quite fair. 30 days, unless you had the piece designed it for you. Those stats are impressive, and they would have put Leigh into the Top Five just on the analytics alone, but the top reason? You the customer. We had numerous recommendations on the response form on this site. (that is the pop up that asks what you think about your jeweler). Interestingly most readers give “constructive criticism” on the form, but not Leigh’s customers, just multiple raving fans…
When we walked into Leigh’s business, our first impression was that the building was a pretty ordinary Diamond District design. It was undergoing some construction on the outside (many of them are), and it was a 1920’s era structure. Not much to talk about, because they are all pretty much the same in this part of Manhattan (except one, the World Gem Tower). When we got to the 9th floor of Leigh’s building the game changed. it was a lot like stumbling upon Kris Kringle’s toy factory – but for adults! After we went through the standard high security doors, we walked out onto the show room. There we saw an amazing array of jewelry, and behind that was a jeweler’s work area, and office, all set in an open loft with hardwood floors and tall ceilings. It was very cool.
Most of the owners of the Diamond District NYC’s best stores wanted to show us their jewelry. Which we of course love to see. But Leigh’s confidence in his craft came through loud and clear, and to be frank he was quite understated, (except as we walked passed his showroom cases, our jaw’s dropped). Leigh instead talked to us about his move to the new space, some of the architecture around the Diamond District, the changing jewelry business, the internet, and his start in the business in 1998. What was most obvious to us however was that Leigh possessed a “gentleman’s confidence” of someone who knew exactly what he was doing, combined with gravitas that is rare in any business, particularly a hyper competitive one like the NYC diamond trade. We suspect it is this combination that makes him so successful.
On to the interview…
Jonathan Winter: What is Leigh Jay Nacht known for?
Leigh Jay Nacht: Elegant, high quality, well-priced, vintage and vintage style engagement rings and bands. We’re also known for outstanding customer service in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Jonathan: Hence your ratings on YELP…
Leigh: I suppose that’s true. I haven’t checked lately.
Jonathan: Your diamonds look great, and the special diamond cuts made us look twice when we came to visit your shop. Can you please tell us about your jewelry?
Leigh: We offer all shapes and sizes of course, like many jewelers in town, but our specialty is vintage cuts such as Old European Cut diamonds.
Jonathan: We recently featured one of your rings in our article: 12 Jaw Dropping Engagement Rings from the NYC Diamond District [hyperlink]. Is that a European Cut diamond?
Leigh: Yes, it is a 2.53 carat, GIA certified, European Cut diamond, with H color and VS2 clarity. It is set on a slender art deco platinum setting with a pair of sleek diamond bullets. This combination makes it artistically interesting and also quite rare.
Jonathan: Normally when a person shows off their diamond, the settings is the background – it’s all about the diamond, but not here. Can you tell us about the settings?
Leigh: Well the center stone is still the main feature on most rings – particularly engagement rings; however, our settings are very special. They are replicas of originals that date from the early 1900s through to midcentury. They are exclusive styles which are crafted here in NYC.
Jonathan: We know why we chose you for the top spot. But we’d like to know what you think differentiates you from other Jewelers.
Leigh: We are unique in that we have both original vintage engagement rings and bands as well as our own collection of replicas of the originals which can be tailored to the client’s preference of metal and center stone options.
Jonathan: Are replicas structurally stronger than antiques?
Leigh: Generally, yes, but as with anything it depends; An original setting for the 1920s has limitations based on the jewelry architecture of the time. Replicas will look almost exactly the same, but the internal skeleton can be completely different. Sometimes the difference is dramatic in terms of wear and tear and diamond safety, sometimes it’s not.
Jonathan: Tell us about your typical customer
Leigh: He or she is looking for a unique and personal engagement ring that is either vintage or in the vintage style.
Jonathan: What else do you offer besides diamond jewelry
Leigh: Along with diamonds, we have colored stones rings including precious stones like sapphires and emeralds, as well as more pastel colors like amethyst purple, peridot green, and morganite pink.
Jonathan: What is your most popular type of jewelry?
Leigh: Definitely wedding bands and engagement rings.
Jonathan: What issues are jewelers facing today that they did not face when your business was formed?
Leigh: The jewelry business continues to get more competitive each year. This is excellent for consumers, and it also provides a good jeweler the opportunity to do better than most by providing an outstanding customer experience, great products and a great value.
Jonathan: Tell us about your staff…
Leigh: We all wear many hats! Visitors are helped by me of course, but also our excellent staff Kiesha, Winona or Yin. Kiesha is also our production manager. Winona is a graduate gemologist and sources all our diamonds. Yin is also our master photographer. We have a great crew.
After we left Leigh’s office, we started to think about the interview. Particularly how much time Leigh the discussion was spent on the human side of jewelry, versus the business side. This is was independently highlighted by the feedback of our site from his clientele. For them it was all about how Leigh understood their needs and matched those needs to the unique diamond engagement ring of their dreams. It is this deep understanding of human nature, along with a great diamond business that makes Leigh so successful.
Leigh has graciously agreed to expert post on our site on jewelry issues of the day. Look for articles directly from Leigh in the future.
Leigh Jay Nacht, Inc.
49 West 45th Street – Suite 902
New York, NY 10036
Disclosure: Jewelers.NYC receives no compensation from Leigh Jay Nacht, Inc.