07 May DAVID GOTLIB: AN INTERVIEW WITH THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND
In early 2017, third-generation and Antwerp-based diamantaire, DAVID GOTLIB turned his passion for cufflinks into a refreshingly new approach to bespoke diamond cufflinks. His ambition was to create exclusive and timeless jewelry pieces for men, which merged the family-inherited diamond expertise with both traditional and contemporary cufflink designs.
We sat down with David Gotlib, founder of the eponymous brand in his Antwerp office, in the heart of the Antwerp diamond district.
David, what is your professional background?
David: I was born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium. My family has been active in the Antwerp diamond trade since after the Second World War. I joined the family business after having completed my university studies.
Can you tell us a bit more about what it entails to be a diamond trader?
David: I have been trading rough and polished diamonds for 15 years now. We source, buy and sell nature’s most precious treasures, in their rough, uncut form, but also the final, polished product. I travel frequently on buying and selling trips and I opened our New York sales office in 2011.
Managing a diamond company is not quite the same as running a jewelry design and manufacturing business, what is your experience in setting up and running DAVID GOTLIB?
David: Through my career as a trader I learnt how to run and financially manage a company, but operating a different kind of business, was and is a big part of the challenge. Wholesale diamond trading and the jewelry business are related, so not entirely different, and I consider it an enrichment for both my businesses to have a more in-depth knowledge on all aspects, from mine to jewelry piece. The element I cherish perhaps the most in setting up DAVID GOTLIB is the excitement and buzz of designing and expressing my creativity.
Does Antwerp still play a leading role in the diamond industry?
David: : It really does. Antwerp is the heart of the global diamond industry. Every day, tens of thousands of diamonds arrive in and are shipped from Antwerp to all corners of the globe. Today, there is a huge business in rough diamonds, 86% of the world’s rough diamond production passes through Antwerp. Actually, all the world’s large rough mining entities are represented here. Antwerp has the finest diamond traders, craftsmen and laboratories in the world, and the finest diamonds, which are still polished here, in the diamond capital.
Have you always been interested in diamonds?
David: Diamonds are part of our family DNA, I was literally born and bred amidst diamonds. Our diamond legacy started when my grandfather came back to Belgium after the terrible ordeals of the Second World War. He had lost everything, didn’t even have a penny to his name. Fortunately, he received generous help from Camille Huysmans, then Mayor of Antwerp, who advised him to become a diamond cutter. Mayor Huysmans also helped organize support for his training and education.
My grandfather thankfully seized this opportunity and started his own business. Through hard work, it became one of the successful, established diamond firms in Antwerp. My father followed in his footsteps and then he in turn first started his own diamond business about 40 years ago. The two firms later merged, and my grandfather and father worked closely together.
I joined the family business 17 years ago and 9 years ago I became a partner. Thanks to good fortune and our joint efforts our business has now grown into becoming one of the principal players in Antwerp in rough and polished diamonds.
Your trading experience is a great business background, but what about technical and experience when it comes to diamonds?
David: In our industry it is not uncommon that the youngsters in the family business have to learn the trade in all its facets, from sorting rough parcels to cleaving and polishing, and it wasn’t any different for me. While I was in college and during vacations, I spent all my spare time in a diamond factory learning how to cut and polish diamonds. This did not only add to my passion for diamonds, but also reinforced my business background with technical expertise. Over time I became more familiar with all the stages of the diamond business, from mining to marketing.
Where did you get the idea to create a line of diamond cufflinks?
David: I always had an ambition to develop a new, design-focused, creative business line. Creating something new excites me. But, for the first few years there was just too much to learn and absorb in the day-to-day business and time became very scarce as my responsibilities and family grew.
But the desire to create and design never subsided. Then, a particularly personal, emotional experience convinced me to stop dreaming and start designing. 25 years ago, I was on holiday in Switzerland with my parents. They were looking for a very special gift for my grandfather’s birthday. After a long search, they stumbled upon a beautiful pair of cufflinks. The cufflinks were stunning, displaying true craftsmanship.
Fast forward to 2 years ago, when my son celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, his 13tth birthday. By this time my grandfather had passed away and the day before the celebrations, my grandmother came to me and she gave me the very same cufflinks my parents had bought for her husband 25 years earlier. She wanted me to have them, and to wear them during my son’s Bar Mitzvah.
This gesture touched me deeply. Those cufflinks gave me such a special feeling that I decided there and then that I wanted to capture those emotions and share them with others. I set to work to use my experience in diamond trading and the technical expertise I had accumulated to create similar, special experiences through diamond cufflinks that can inspire and give joy and pleasure.
In your opinion, are diamond cufflinks the ideal gift?
David: Yes, I believe they really are. In fact, in the old days, cufflinks would almost always be given as a gift, generally marking a special occasion. Cufflinks make superb gifts for family members, loved ones, friends, business relations and colleagues. They are a very personal gift, but in a subtle way. Unlike most gadgets or accessories, diamond cufflinks never go out of fashion. If you buy well, they are absolutely timeless collectibles and they will retain their value. We also see, more and more people are buying jewelry for themselves, rather than “waiting” for someone to buy it for them. Cufflinks are a great match with that trend too, they are perfect to add a touch of personality to your look, expressing your individuality.
And DAVID GOTLIB cufflinks in particular?
David: We offer a range of exquisite cufflinks that are really exceptional. DAVID GOTLIB is about Antwerp-designed, meticulously handcrafted cufflinks, with diamonds, nature’s most precious and rare gift in a lead role. Through our cufflinks, you can offer yourself, a loved one or a significant person, a truly splendid gift, a unique experience, and a wonderful memory to cherish. That is what DAVID GOTLIB is all about.
Can you tell us a bit more about the designs?
David: : Today, we have six stunning collections that offer a wide variety of exquisite designs; we have classic combinations of diamonds and precious stones in the Prado Collection, or more ethereal symbolism in the Logos of Life pieces. Our Life is Beautiful collection on the other hand is more of a colorful homage to nature, while the Oh My Game and Let’s Party cufflinks are a touch more frivolous or even bold. Our latest collection, Gold Rush is more minimalist, combining a more rugged, unfinished feel with the refinement of a perfect, solitaire diamond. To me, that is the beauty of cufflinks, every man can enjoy a set of beautiful diamond cufflinks that suits his own style and mood: we have days and times when we may appreciate the classic look, and other times when a more informal style or daredevil look is the appropriate one. Cufflinks are actually very versatile, and despite what many people think, are not reserved exclusively for formal wear, as I call it, “The Tuxedo Myth”. The designs are very diverse, but they have one thing in common: each of our cufflinks features the timeless beauty of carefully selected and perfectly finished natural diamonds. This is what makes DAVID GOTLIB truly stand out.
What inspires you in the creative process of designing a new collection?
David: Well, I think design inspiration is infinite, the sources of ideas and motifs are literally everywhere. One of the advantages of working in an industry with such a distinct, multicultural and international character is that I get to travel the world and see so many wonderful places. Inspiration can come from a stroll along the beach, a visit to a museum, a walk through a busy urban space, flipping through a fashion magazine, a 10 hour flight doodling with the clouds as company, observing people – the next design idea can come from anywhere, really.
Where can people buy DAVID GOTLIB?
David: The collections of DAVID GOTLIB are sold in select stores across the world, in Chicago, Miami, New York, London, Puerto Banuz, and our latest location, the Ritz Hotel in Paris, but also online on www.davidgotlib.be. We take great care in providing our clients a unique product and experience which is why we are closely involved in every single stage of the production process, from design to handcrafting the pieces and delivering them to our customers. Our goal is to bring them the highest quality possible, superb craftsmanship, supply chain integrity and a buying experience that is as memorable as our cufflinks are.
Curious about our designs?
Are you curious about our exclusive cufflink designs? Be sure to explore our collection!