When the now globally famous Icebox Diamonds & Watches began in Atlanta in 2006, the pool of jewelers specializing in “hip-hop jewelry” was relatively small. The market for fully diamond-set chains, extra-large diamond pendants and custom diamond watches was confined almost exclusively to successful hip-hop artists. Fast forward to 2022, hip-hop music dominates the pop charts and with the help of Icebox’s influence, “hip-hop jewelry” is not only in the mainstream, it shapes the fine jewelry world.
Mo, Rafi and Zahir Jooma, the three brothers who own and operate Icebox Diamonds & Watches, leaned into Atlanta’s unique and artistic culture when developing the Icebox brand. As Rafi says, “Atlanta is the land of opportunity for creative individuals.” Big fans of the music genre, the three brothers recognized hip-hop’s importance in the Atlanta scene and decided to try everything to break into it. In the early days, they would frequent Atlanta nightlife spots and recording studios, introducing themselves and passing out business cards with the hopes of having luck with the right people.
In 2009, after gaining some traction, they closed their more traditional jewelry store in the North Atlanta area of Gwinnett and opened Icebox Diamonds and Watches in the heart of the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, where it remains today.
The brothers agree that a pivotal moment for Icebox was in 2009 when they were approached by legendary hip-hop artist T-Pain in 2009 to custom make what is now one of the most iconic pieces of jewelry ever made: the “Big Ass Chain”. Weighing over ten pounds and with almost 200 carats of natural diamonds, few pieces could be more over the top. According to T-Pain, the piece was made it purely because a stranger dared him he wouldn’t do it, a story that makes the piece all the more iconic. Needless to say, droves of high-profile clients followed, turning Icebox into a hotspot for Atlanta talent and a must-stop for celebrities passing through.
The no-compromise attitude toward client relations is a practice that stands out in driving the success of Icebox. Rafi says, “We find ways to never say no.” Whether you want food or drinks while you shop, your barber brought in for a cut, or even a pop-up shop at your “ice”-themed birthday party like Lil Baby, Icebox will make it happen. The comfort level their customers feel while shopping is immediately apparent. Major celebrities will hang out for hours, looking at and learning about natural diamonds.
Zahir, who works on the design, says, “We are known for making the impossible possible.” Sometimes hundreds of design hours are spent on the custom diamond creations for which Icebox is known.
Social media is to thank for the millions of people worldwide who know Icebox despite never having visited Atlanta. Between Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, Icebox has around 12 million followers. They’ve racked up almost 400 million YouTube views and well over 106 million TikTok likes—social influence at the level of the world’s largest and most famous jewelry stores—all without paying to boost their content. Icebox’s videos, which most often feature the rich and famous shopping and making big purchases, get millions of views and can be as promotionally beneficial to the featured artists as they are for Icebox themselves. Natural diamonds are the ultimate luxury item, and according to T-Pain, until you’ve splurged on natural diamonds at Icebox, “I don’t think you really made it as an artist.”
Since it opened, Icebox has successfully catered to the hip-hop and men’s jewelry niche, which, a decade or so later, is no longer a niche. Nothing better proves that Icebox has transcended into mainstream pop culture than the jeweler’s partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue; the luxury department stores are hosting Icebox boutiques around the country. Mo says he “thinks Saks recognizes that we play a big part in pop culture.” After testing the concept in Saks Atlanta, Icebox and Saks plan to expand the concept and continue to satisfy the growing demand for diamond jewelry that was once thought unconventional.