Meridian Industrial

TRAVELING TO BELGIUM FOR THE PERFECT DIAMOND

1/30/2020 | Allison Litera

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Michael Szwed enjoys the thrill of the hunt…for the perfect diamond, that is. He isn’t interested in any ordinary diamonds. He specifically travels to Antwerp, Belgium, the “diamond capital of the world”, to hand-select them for his clients. He first learned about the Antwerp Diamond Broker Program while he was still working for his family’s jewelry store.

“Michael Szwed Jewelers is a member of the largest jewelry-buying group in world called the Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO),” says Szwed. “The IJO consists of approximately 800 independent retail jewelers throughout the United States and Canada. Being a member of the IJO has allowed me to have the opportunity to participate in the Antwerp Diamond Broker Program.”

Szwed reminisces about going to his first IJO show in Boston.

“I was a young kid coming out of college, excited to help my family’s business grow. Sure enough, there was an independent seminar about going to Antwerp. After I joined the IJO, I started having conversations with them about going to Antwerp.”

Since 2012, Szwed has owned and operated his Longmeadow, MA store. He comes from a line of jewelry experts, so it was only natural that he developed a career as a jeweler himself.

On his most recent trip to Antwerp, Belgium in October 2019, Szwed had the pleasure of hand-selecting diamonds 14 GO LOCAL FEBRUARY 2020 for three clients looking to create a custom piece for someone special. He submits a list of specifics for his clients two weeks prior to traveling to Antwerp. By this time, clients have already committed to their purchases.

“The inventory in Antwerp is so vast,” says Szwed. “There is so much variety. A lot of the best diamond cutters and stones travel through Antwerp.” He visits various diamond houses in Antwerp; all offering different cuts, quality, colors, and more. Once selected, the diamonds get shipped directly back to the Longmeadow store.

Client Alex D. purchased a loose diamond from Szwed’s visit to Antwerp as a gift for his wife to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary.

“I surprised her with a loose diamond,” Alex describes. “When I purchased it, I gave [Szwed] parameters and sure enough he found several stones and called me from Antwerp and gave me the pros and cons of each.” From there, Alex gifted the handpicked diamond to his wife and asked her what she wanted to do with it. “She decided on a ring and I gave the final piece to her on our anniversary weekend. She picked a beautiful setting with stones on the side.” Alex was wowed by Szwed’s professionalism and presentation.

“When [he] presented the diamond to me, I received a hardcover book with the story of our diamond. We also got a bottle of champagne, diamond-shaped chocolates from Belgium, and a thumb drive with the video story of the diamond selection process.” A video is made for each customer that shows Szwed picking their actual diamond in Antwerp.

“What I do for every couple that I travel to Antwerp for is I take a personal video with the diamond house owner so they can see the journey of their diamond,” says Szwed. He also makes sure to stop at Goossen’s Chocolatier for diamond-shaped chocolates.

“In our opinion, this is the top chocolatier in Antwerp,” says Szwed. “I have to make my stop there and make sure I can get there and get chocolates for my customers. I buy diamond-shaped chocolates that have sugar sparkles with white chocolate and fudge on the inside. The chocolates travel with me on the flight personally.”

“[Szwed] is the most professional jeweler I have worked with in my entire life,” adds Alex. “When people buy things like diamonds, it’s a blind process. We trusted him because he made every step in the process so easy. We had so many options with flexibility and cost.”

Another client, Jason M., came to Szwed looking to create an engagement ring.

“He brought in a picture of a very unique design that his fiancée-to-be had given to him,” says Szwed. Jason says, “The ring was special because of how it was selected overseas in Antwerp. My experience working with Michael was unbelievable. His ability to gain your trust, his attention to detail, and his outgoing personality really made you feel more like a friend than a customer. After shopping around at different jewelers, I am happy I chose to work with Michael. His emphasis was more on quality than pricing. He took the most time to educate me about what I was buying and helped me understand pricing and had a certain level that he was comfortable selling before compromising quality. He is a higher-end salesman and went the extra mile to help me make an educated purchase. My fiancée and I were just absolutely blown away by the final result. The size, quality, and cut of the stone exceeded both our expectations.”

Customer Pete C. worked with Szwed to give his wife a gift she always wanted for her 40th birthday: a yellow gold diamond pendant necklace.

“For as long as I’ve known my wife, she has always wanted a diamond necklace,” Pete says. “I had a very good picture of what it would look like in my mind. Michael did a great job showing me examples and a picture of what it would look like. When I saw the final product, I was like, ‘yes, this is perfect.’ It was exactly what my wife was looking for.” Pete also had great things to say about his time working with Szwed.

“Michael was pleasant beyond the service side of it,” he says. “If you have an idea of what you’d like to get, just go in and talk to him. He is extremely knowledgeable and talks you through it. He made the process easy and does a very good job of showing you your ideas. I think very highly of Michael.” And of course, Pete’s wife loved the final piece.

“My wife was shocked and completely surprised that she was getting the diamond pendant that she always wanted,” Pete says. He surprised her with the necklace during a weekend in New York City in December and gave it to her right near the ice rink at Rockefeller Center.

Aside from getting the opportunity to travel to Antwerp, Szwed’s favorite part of the jewelry-making process is “being a small part in such an important moment in our customers’ lives,” he says. “We have the opportunity to help our customer present the perfect engagement ring, anniversary pendant, or birthstone ring [to someone special]. Diamonds are for all different occasions.” And the Antwerp diamonds surely add the “wow” factor that Szwed enjoys so much. After the finished product is gifted or presented to its recipient, he loves to hear the presentation stories.

“Creating these relationships with people is what it’s all about,” he says. And on top of that, all of the small detailed things he adds to the process makes those customers’ experiences that much more special. So, what’s next for Szwed? “I am going back to Antwerp in April,” he smiles.

Michael Szwed Jewelers is located at 807 Williams Street • Longmeadow, MA
For more information call 413- 567-7977 or go to michaelszwedjewelers.com

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