Sophisticated Sparkle

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-By Kristy Attard

There is something magical about diamonds. They are forever beautiful, a timeless way to say “I love you” and every girl’s best friend. Diamonds have been capturing people’s hearts since ancient times when it was said that Cupid’s arrows were tipped with the glittering stones, and they are still casting the same spell on people today.

Many couples, fiancés and nervous boyfriends turn to Max Diamonds for something truly special, a handmade one of a kind diamond ring that they themselves designed. General Manager Alex Lane is passionate about her work helping customers design rings. “I really like the fact that I can do something creative for a job and dealing with people at a very happy time in their life is very special… and looking at diamonds everyday is an added bonus!”

Special Moments

Max Diamonds is a family owned, Australian business offering customers a luxurious custom design process for engagement and wedding rings. Gemmologist Maxwell Lane started his flagship Opal company, Gemtec in 1941, and a diamonds only division, Max Diamonds was launched in 2006 together with his daughter Alex. Besides custom designing rings, Max Diamonds is proud to offer customers wholesale loose diamonds, precious gemstones and a fine selection of jewellery from its showroom in Castlereagh Street, Sydney. Besides being General Manager, Ms Lane is also a certified diamond grader and jewellery designer. “I started working here about six years ago fulltime but I’ve been working on and off here since I was quite little, just helping out in the office.”

Designing an engagement or wedding ring is an emotional process and it can be overwhelming, particularly for men. “I would say first of all, have a think about what you want,” advises Ms Lane. Look online for ideas and jewellery trends, cut pictures out of magazines and think about budget. Let your imagination go wild and do some rough sketches. From that design inspiration, the staff at Max Diamonds can see what you are after and discuss it further with you. “What some other shops do is have you queue up to see somebody; it’s a bit rushed. You just walk in, you may be able to see someone or not. We work by appointment only so that each customer is given as much time as they need to sit down and talk to us.” Max Diamonds makes customers feel comfortable with a glass of French champagne, beer or an espresso ready on their arrival. Helping people relax and enjoy themselves helps makes it a memorable experience.” That extra touch of class and distinction makes Max Diamonds a little bit different from the rest.

Beyond the welcoming customer experience, the ability to design your own ring is surely Max Diamonds’ greatest point of difference. Any taste and budget can be accommodated – the team at Max Diamonds have had a few requests from customers looking to recreate vintage style rings. Antique and art deco designs are popular again, with couples wanting to recapture the romance and glamour of yesteryear. And of course, Kate Middleton’s classic sapphire and diamond engagement ring that belonged to the late Princess Diana has had a worldwide impact. Max Diamonds does source and sell sapphires as well as a wide range of precious stones including aquamarine, emerald and the dazzling opal. White gold and platinum is trendy along with glamorous pink diamonds. No matter what design customers dream up, the expert team at Max Diamonds can make it a reality.

Quality Creations

When it comes to buying diamonds, the price is often just as stunning as the stone. The highly professional team at Max Diamonds aims to work to almost any budget without compromising on quality. How much customers spend is for them to decide. “There’s no rule about this; a lot of people think that it’s supposed to be three months’ wages but that’s actually just a marketing ploy really,” says Ms Lane. “I think it should be whatever you’re comfortable with spending.”

No matter what sort of budget a customer has, at Max Diamonds everyone is made to feel welcome. “It’s a really special time in people’s lives and I’ve heard some horror stories about the way people can sometimes be treated if they don’t have enough money to spend in other places,” comments Ms Lane. A beautiful ring reflects the connection between the giver and receiver, not the price tag. “I just think it shouldn’t matter. Some of my favourite customers have been students without too many dollars to their name and I love hearing their stories just as much as anyone else’s. I really enjoy that part of it, actually meeting people and hearing how they met. That’s how we do things a little differently here.”

Max Diamonds puts a lifetime guarantee on the grade and quality of all its diamonds and has an international reputation for excellence. Customers can also have complete peace of mind knowing that all of the company’s diamonds are conflict free and ethically traded.

The quality of a diamond is determined by the 4Cs – cut, colour, carat weight and clarity. Cut refers to not only the shape of the diamond, but also its angles, facets and proportions. There are several different types of cut ranging from the unusual marquise to the sentimental heart cut. Everyone has a personal favourite. “Mine is a brilliant cut diamond,” says Ms Lane, “but everyone in the office has a different favourite – Melissa prefers the princess cuts and Robin likes emerald cuts the most.” Max Diamonds can supply diamonds in whatever shape customers desire, with most customers opting for a classic brilliant cut diamond.

There are also colour variations amongst diamonds, even with white diamonds. “It starts off with completely colourless which is a D and goes all the way down to Z so the most popular colour range that people choose is between D and H.” While white diamonds are always beautiful, coloured or ‘fancy’ diamonds can really make a statement. Women love pink diamonds for their feminine, romantic sparkle. All of the pink diamonds at Max come from Western Australia’s Argyle mine. Yellow or ‘canary’ diamonds are another gorgeous alternative or for something completely different, you can even try black diamonds.

The size of a diamond should suit the finger of the receiver and the budget of the buyer. Carat weight refers to the size of the stone, with larger stones being rarer. Diamonds are formed in nature so a majority of them are small bearing tiny flaws. A diamond’s flaws determine its clarity. “We only stock diamonds that are 100 per cent eye clean,” says Ms Lane. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare but do exist and customers can purchase them from Max.

Future Happiness

While the jewellery industry has definitely been shaken by the global financial crisis, business is strong at Max Diamonds. There is still a demand for engagement rings and buying quality diamonds at wholesale prices appeals to customers. Ms Lane comments that in some ways the global financial crisis has been good for the business but acknowledges that the diamond industry as a whole has definitely taken a big hit. “We’ve noticed a lot of stores closing down.”

A quick look at the Max Diamonds website will reveal glowing testimonials from customers as far away as the United States, Germany and Norway. Max Diamonds communicates with international customers by email, and this represents a potential area for future growth. Ms Lane is also hoping to open up additional stores. “Maybe in Melbourne and ideally it’d be lovely to open up one in New York… it’s always a possibility but at the moment we’re just focusing on our Sydney based clients.

“Like any business it has its ups and downs, its quiet months and more busy months.” The lead up to Christmas is always a challenging and busy time for Max Diamonds with many people planning to propose on Christmas day. Speaking of proposals, Ms Lane has this advice: “All the friends always ask for the story of how you got engaged. Put a bit of thought into it; it doesn’t have to be over the top but something meaningful would be my tip. And always ask the father of the bride if possible for permission and get down on one knee.”

When it comes to proposal stories, the team at Max Diamonds have heard it all. “I’ve had people hire a helicopter and spell out the proposal on a football pitch; I’ve had a customer bury a wooden chest and do a secret treasure hunt. Another one had a scavenger hunt all over the city complete with cupcakes in the bakery with clues on them and a limousine ride with fireworks at the end. Then you get the proposals where they ask when they’re sitting on the couch at home, and everything in between. I love hearing each one though; they’re always a little bit different.” Whatever the love story, Max Diamonds is proud to be a part of it, creating beautiful rings that will last a lifetime.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:26 AM AEDT