This is a special year in Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers’ history: it marks the ten-year anniversary in the quaint town of Bernardsville, New Jersey. Since 2004, Edward and Faina have shared many special moments and supported the values that are important to their clients, friends, and family. This kindhearted attitude is apparent in all that they do. A responsible and sustainable approach to business allows them to give back to local organizations and individuals in their community. Edward and Faina believe that no matter what size the donation, they can make an impact on someone’s life.
During the State of the Union Address on January 28, 2014, President Obama recognized Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg along with other wounded soldiers. Remsburg was severely injured and left blind in one eye by a roadside bomb during his tenth deployment to Afghanistan. He and his father received a nearly two-minute standing ovation from those in attendance and it became clear that his story of courage and survival had captured hearts across America.
A sense of nostalgia overtook Faina as she witnessed Remsburg’s emotional moment unfold on television. Growing up in the former Soviet Union, both Faina and Edward have vivid memories from the various stories of the tragedies, and hardships of war that were told by their family members. Their parents witnessed the horrors of World War II having lost several loved ones. Each of their fathers had served in the military and fought against the Nazis.
Shortly after the broadcast, Faina began thinking about how to support, recognize, and thank the courageous men and women of the armed forces. What better way to honor their bravery than by hosting an all inclusive wedding that could be one of the happiest days of their life. She thought that Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers could provide the engagement and wedding rings, and was hoping that other local merchants would rally behind the idea.
Faina then presented her idea to various businesses, as well as the Bernardsville Chamber of Commerce, and it was met with great enthusiasm. The town quickly put the contest in motion, and searched for military couples in New Jersey. Local businesses and residents donated goods, services, and financial donations, to this amazing cause. As word of the contest spread around town, more and more donations came in. The grand prize grew much larger than intended, with the estimated value of over $50,000.
In order to be considered, military couples had to either be active or retired members of the Armed Forces and a New Jersey resident. The couples also had to create a video or brief essay detailing their love story, and why they should be awarded with the grand prize.
The contest committee reviewed all of the entries and had a difficult decision narrowing it to a group of five finalists. They gathered on a Saturday afternoon to review the entries, and the process proved to be extremely difficult. Caesar Mistretta, long time owner of J.M. Stringer Gallery, and president of Bernardsville Chamber of Commerce, revealed his sensitive side as he read the heart-wrenching stories. How would the committee choose? Ultimately, they decided on six contestants, who would participate in a town-wide scavenger hunt to determine the winner. The local merchants who donated the prizes became destinations during the hunt. The team that placed first would receive the all-inclusive American Dream Wedding.
The energy was high before the event, as several of the teams canvassed the town to learn about its local history. The highly anticipated scavenger hunt finally took place on the evening of October 2nd. Each couple was given a map and clues that would lead them from one place to another until they reached the final destination, Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers. Local townsfolk, merchants, friends and family proudly cheered on the six couples as they checked their maps and dashed towards each location. Team Stars and Team Stripes were neck-and-neck, and made a photo finish in the center of town.The results were too close to call. The winners would instead be announced at the “Taste of Bernardsville and Beyond” fundraiser a few days later.
In front of a packed house at the Olde Mill Inn, the grand prize was awarded to Nicole Russo and Sgt. John Ondish of Team Stars. Although John was stationed in Bahrain during the ceremony, Russo was able to bring him to Bernardsville via Skype. They ecstatically accepted the prize. “I was shaking and all I could think about was wearing my bridal gown and walking down the aisle,” said Russo.
As part of the grand prize, Sgt. Ondish and Russo received a Bernards Inn catered wedding, engagement ring and wedding bands from Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers, a wedding gown from Elizabeth Johns, a rehearsal dinner at The Olde Mill Inn, a DJ from Eclipse Events, photography by Stephen Taylor and videography by Generic Brand Human. Also included was a commissioned charcoal painting from J. M. Stringer Gallery of Fine Art, flowers by Laura Clare, makeup by Carla Fabrizi, hair styling by Salon Studio, a wedding cake by Cocoluxe, invitations by Bernardsville Print Center, chauffeur services by Lux, handbags by Le Fashion Cottage, alterations by Monetti Tailors, and bridal party costume jewelry by Bling.
Due to the generosity of sponsors and the overabundance of donations, not only would all of the finalists be receiving prizes, but there would be a second wedding as well! Raymond Royce and Katie Stelnick of Team Stripes received the second place prize and were pleasantly surprised. “I’m overwhelmed, and out of breath” said Royce. We’re awed by the generosity of this community and we’re eternally grateful.” The remaining four finalists each received a variety of prizes including a $500 check from the Chamber. The rest of the evening was spent celebrating and toasting to our brave military men and women. Every couple walked away a winner in the eyes of Bernardsville.
Edward and Faina along with the community look forward to the planning of both weddings that will happen in the upcoming year. Diamond Dream is excited to work with the winning couple to design the ring of their dreams as they begin a new stage in their life.
Despite there being only one grand prize winner, all of the participants could not be more grateful for this opportunity. It was rewarding to see how appreciative they were, even after knowing all they do for us. Since then, many have formed friendships with one another, as they share the wedding planning experience together.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of local businesses and residents of Bernardsville. Not only did the contest spotlight the courageous service of our military members, but it also demonstrated how one small town can come together to make a difference in the lives of others. Edward and Faina hope that by spreading this story, a chain reaction will begin and other towns will be inspired to carry out similar deeds.