If you live in the New York City tri-state area and have been in the market for a natural diamond engagement ring in the last decade, there is a good chance you have heard of Josh Levkoff. Maybe you sat down with Levkoff at his office in New York to design your dream ring or saw some gorgeous custom creations on his Instagram. If you weren’t in the market for a diamond ring recently, maybe you saw his diamonds walking the red carpet or down a New York Fashion Week runway. In a new interview, Only Natural Diamonds had the chance to delve into Levkoff’s fascinating story, from his unconventional entry into the jewelry business to his collaboration with renowned fashion designer Christian Siriano.
Levkoff’s journey into the diamond jewelry business is unlike most jewelers, who inherited the trade or come from a family of jewelers. Levkoff’s path was almost coincidental, but his passion for it was always there, even when he didn’t understand it. He began as a young boy with a fascination for rocks, attending rock shows and collecting various stones. His interest in geology led him to dream of becoming an archaeologist. According to Levkoff, as a kid, it was the only job he knew where he could work with rocks and minerals. However, fate had a different plan in store for him. Levkoff’s father, who is half Israeli, had recently reconnected with an old Army buddy who happened to work at a diamond company in Israel. Levkoff had just graduated with a finance degree and had always wanted to go to Israel. Simultaneously, his father’s friend offered him that opportunity with an apprenticeship there. With a sense of adventure and a thirst for knowledge, the young Levkoff seized the opportunity and embarked on a journey that would ultimately shape his future.
Levkoff spent eleven months in Israel, immersing himself in the intricacies of the diamond trade. His passion for the industry grew, leading him to pursue further education. He then went to New York City and attended the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), earning his Graduate Diamond degree. He later worked for a diamond company for nearly two years but envisioned creating his own path in the jewelry world. In 2009, he ventured out to establish his jewelry business. He was ‘engagement age’ himself, so his journey began by catering to the needs of friends and young couples seeking engagement rings. Word of mouth spread quickly, earning him a reputation as ‘the neighborhood jeweler.’ Levkoff strived to be a part of his client’s life milestones, from engagements to anniversaries and beyond. This approach solidified his clientele and reflected his genuine passion for creating jewelry that celebrates life’s most precious moments.
For years, Levkoff’s business model revolved around custom-made orders, primarily engagement rings and wedding bands, with a private office as his base. This approach resonated with his initial clientele, who appreciated the personal touch and bespoke designs. However, a chance encounter with famous fashion designer Christian Siriano in Westport, Connecticut, where Levkoff had moved for his family, marked a turning point. Siriano, known for his elegant and chic fashion designs, invited Levkoff to join The Collective West, a high-end, multi-faceted retail space that Siriano would soon be opening.
Initially hesitant about retail, Levkoff embraced the opportunity, adapting his business to include a retail component. His participation in The Collective West signifies a significant evolution from a private jeweler to a public retail presence. The space also allowed for the growth of repurposing client’s jewelry. Clients bring in heirloom pieces, seeking to breathe new life into them. This approach honors the lasting and sentimental value of diamond jewelry and reflects his commitment to service and personalization. He embraced the new space as a retail store, an event venue, and an extension of his office. With seven showcases filled with fine fashion jewelry, Levkoff was ready to explore new horizons.
The collaboration and friendship with Siriano also opened doors to the glamorous world of red carpets and fashion shows. Thanks to Siriano’s extensive fashion and entertainment industry network, Levkoff’s pieces have graced prestigious events like the Met Gala, Oscars, and SAG Awards. This partnership extends to New York Fashion Week, where Levkoff has been instrumental in accessorizing Siriano’s collections on the runway. Levkoff worked closely with Siriano for each fashion show to curate jewelry pieces that complemented the collection’s theme. Whether it was a ballerina-inspired show or an ode to Audrey Hepburn‘s rose garden, Levkoff brought his expertise to the table, selecting or even custom crafting pieces that would accentuate the designer’s vision.
The behind-the-scenes process was a whirlwind of creativity and last-minute adjustments. Models tried on the jewelry minutes before hitting the runway, resulting in on-the-fly alterations to ensure a perfect fit. These adrenaline-fueled moments were a testament to Levkoff’s dedication to delivering exceptional jewelry that enhanced extraordinary fashion.
As Levkoff looks ahead, he’s exploring exciting possibilities. Some of his ambitions are to create his own jewelry line and venture into the growing world of men’s jewelry. He’s even considering collaborating with Siriano on a line of jewelry. He believes that fine jewelry has the power to make people feel good and encourages everyone to celebrate it. Levkoff’s story is more than just about diamonds and jewelry; it’s about the beauty of following a childhood passion, the art of personal touch in a commercial world, and the serendipitous connections that shape our paths.