When I learned the art of making fine jewelry, I just fell in love with it. I always knew I wanted something of my own. And I have been so fortunate to meld these two desires together.”
These are words of devotion, and a man clearly in love with what he does. Edward Shapiro and his wife Faina run one of the most sophisticated businesses in Bernardsville, Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers. He is an artisan, she is a businesswoman, they are buyers, proprietors, sales professionals, accountants, and designers. In other words, they do it all.
They’ve proven that if you love what you do, it’s not work. Edward’s love affair began in the early Eighties when he took an apprenticeship with a jeweler in New York City. It was a production shop where he became intimately familiar with the various techniques by which fine jewelry is made. “I started from the bottom,” Edward says. To begin as an apprentice wasn’t easy, but after working for free for the first few months, the owner, and Edward’s boss, recognized the good work his young apprentice produced and agreed to give him a salary—a generous $2.50 an hour!
As his interest deepened, Edward started to take work home, laboring in the evening hours after already having put in a full day. “I bought myself a jeweler’s bench and tools, and worked nights in order to sharpen my skills,” he says of that time. Edward hadn’t been in this country long, emigrating as a 19-year-old with his family from Ukraine to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1979 and four years later to New York City. He fondly recalls that first summer and how enthralled he was with Manhattan. “All I wanted to do was get to know New York City,” he says. Edward soon found he was doing just that, seizing the opportunity to apprentice that fall. It would set the course for the rest of his life.
Edward took a liking to his burgeoning profession immediately and little by little began fashioning his own line of jewelry, shopping it around to area stores for sale. The owner of the factory where he was working noticed Edward’s entrepreneurial spirit, as well as his talent, and offered him the chance to open a retail operation. Edward thought of the name Diamond Dream Jewelers for his new business and opened his doors in 1985 in Fairfield, New Jersey. Edward was living in Manhattan at the time and commutng seven days a week by bus to New Jersey to run the shop, handling everything, from stocking to cleaning to ordering merchandise. It was about this time that Edward met Faina.
Together, over the next 15 years, they expanded to four additional stores. With the increased retail operation however came increased management and administrative responsibilities. “Our involvement in the company changed dramatically,” says Edward of running five locations. “We lost touch with what was most important to us: our customers. We wanted to know their desires and how to make them happy,” Faina said. “That was when we decided to get back to a business where we could work together, each providing expertise and serving a loyal clientele.”
With that thought in mind, they decided to focus exclusively on their Bernardsville store. With more than seven years in town, Faina and Edward have come to be widely respected throughout the community, known for their stellar merchandise, their impeccable service, and, most of all, their warmth. Their dedication to their town is easily evidenced by the transformation they made to their current store in the heart of Bernardsville on Mine Brook Road-Route 202- near the intersection with Mt. Airy Road and Anderson Hill Road.
We constantly evaluate our collections and we’re in our store almost every day to assist our customers and see first-hand what people want and what interests them,” says Edward of his and Faina’s present schedule, one that seems to suit them perfectly. “When not in the store, we travel to trade shows, from Europe to those throughout the U.S., attending seminars and meeting with vendors so we can keep abreast of the trends and be aware of the newest and most desirable pieces out there to offer our customers.” And those desirable pieces are in abundance in the showcases inside. The shop carries very selective, sought-after collections, and those possessing a long legacy of craftsmanship.
They offer the most exclusive collections, such as Breguet watches, the full line of Buccellati, including jewelry, watches, and silver, as well as Pomellato.
But the hand-crafted pieces designed by Edward himself are their specialty. His training as an artist and master jeweler comes into play every week as he is asked to create engagement and wedding rings, pieces for anniversaries, or even jewelry to celebrate the birth of a child or the anniversary of a first date. His enthusiasm for the beauty he creates shines through: “I love looking at something in the rough, and watching the raw stones and metal coming together into something beautiful,” Edward tells of his craft. “Every time it happens, I get excited.”
Their loyal clientele is evidence of Edward and Faina’s constant attention to detail and customer service, pushing well beyond the borders of Bernardsville and the surrounding area. Some of their clients have stayed with Diamond Dream since its opening 20+ years ago; the couple has even sold pieces to the grandchildren of their original customers. Edward and Faina go out of their way to accommodate most every need, including maintaining client wish lists.
Recently, one client called while on a business trip in Europe. Realizing he would be out of town for his anniversary, he needed a special gift in short order. Edward quickly made some suggestions from the wish list of the gentleman’s wife, e-mailed photographs of the choices, the gentleman made a decision, and Edward personally delivered the gift to the door—along with a card and, unbeknownst to his client, flowers. “I’ve done this on a number of occasions,” he says in his customary unassuming manner. He and Faina feel very fortunate to share in special moments like these in their client’s lives, creating fine jewelry that is passed down from generation to generation.