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 Lerner Diamonds expands in UK market  

Ayelet Lerner, a fifth-generation diamond trader, explains to Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough why the UK is a good fit for Lerner Diamonds, which has established a strong presence in the US market over decades.
 Q. Ayelet, Lerner Diamonds plans to expand its presence in the UK market. What will you be offering to UK diamond wholesalers and retailers and how will you reach out to them?

A. We would like to offer the UK the same type of high quality service that we have been offering our American customers for over 30 years and in more recent times in the UK.

This involves a full diamond service enabling the customer to order exactly what they need and have someone trustworthy, experienced and very well connected sourcing diamonds for them.
We work with most of Antwerp’s diamond offices, both big and small, and Antwerp’s many diamond brokers.
A recent picture where Ayelet’s customer in Wales had a wonderful client evening and wanted her to come and speak to the end customers more about diamonds, the story of her family in diamonds, and Antwerp. A beautiful evening!

Our daily work consists of filling our clients’ orders and negotiating the best deals for them, knowing who to contact for different kinds of goods and having the skill to source great looking diamonds at the best market value.

We are lucky enough to be an office in Antwerp with a very good reputation, and people are keen to do business with us.

This means that we get advantageous pricing and are able to source exactly what our customers need.

Essentially what this means for our UK customers is that they email us their orders. This can range from a couple of carats of a specific size of calibrated small diamonds for jewellery, to some measured tapered baguettes, all the way to great looking 1-carat budget diamonds or larger certified diamonds.

The entire Antwerp market is at our fingertips and we are willing to work hard for each and every order. We also have hands on access to diamonds in Israel and Mumbai.

Every diamond is carefully inspected in our office and can be described to our customers when necessary.

The Lerner family in their Antwerp office, currently all active in the business

Our clients receive weekly or bi-weekly shipments from us and when it’s more urgent they can have the goods on their desk the next day.

The logistics involved in working with the UK are really excellent.

Today many buyers have become more inclined to hunt for the best deal when it comes to their diamond buying but this can often be time consuming and not necessarily effective.
Our customers have been working with us for many years and recognise that their interest is always our top priority, because it’s not only about making this sale but about growing our businesses together.

In terms of reaching out, we have increased our presence. I visit London on a monthly basis building new business relationships.

We also exhibit at the Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair (BrilliAnt) in January and always take part in Antwerp Diamond experiences which are hosted in Antwerp by AWDC giving European buyers a chance to meet strong suppliers in Antwerp.

Q. Why should wholesalers and retailers turn to Lerner Diamonds as their diamond buyer? What are your current strengths as a company, and where are you most active geographically?

A. Over the years we have really fine-tuned our ability to provide a very unique service to both wholesalers and retailers.

We speak their language. We are able to serve them in a way that really gives their business added value and are open to learn about their businesses to see how best to serve them.

This can range from guiding them in some of the purchases to giving diamond sales training to their sales staff.

Our diamond service is proactive and all-encompassing and we have seen that this formula is really successful in the UK.

It is also definitely worth mentioning that all the diamonds come from Antwerp and are sourced by a fifth-generation diamond company.

Every diamond that is bought has been carefully hand-picked for the end customer.
This picture showing the working day, was taken very recently. These are small diamonds Lerner Diamonds are working on which will be in this Christmas’s jewellery in the United States. The small bags show the level of detail that goes into the work. The bags marked in red are the diamonds that Lerner Diamonds will be rejecting as they do not pass quality control. All of these diamonds are carefully checked for size, colour and quality. This is the kind of work Lerner Diamonds believe should not have to be done by the jeweller.

Our company is mainly active in the United States and the UK. These are actually not such different markets. In terms of volume, yes the difference is substantial, but with regards to recognising good value they have much in common.

Q. Why have you chosen to raise the priority of the UK market at a time of uncertainty over Brexit and the economic outlook of this market?

A. It is true that there are certain question marks with regards to Brexit and how it will impact business between Antwerp and the UK and we are following the developments closely.
We feel confident that trade agreements will be put in place in order to maintain these business ties.

The UK is a very natural choice for us.

I spent 10 years living there, first at boarding school and then at university in London.
I feel very connected to the UK.  Now that we have seen first-hand what our business can offer there, I feel it’s a good time to rekindle that connection.

Q. What is the history of Lerner Diamonds? How far back does the family heritage in the diamond business extend?

A. We are blessed with a wonderful rich history which actually comes from both sides of my family.

From my mother’s side I am a fifth-generation diamond trader.

My great grandfather came to Antwerp from Poland at the turn of the century and worked in diamonds with his brothers until they had to flee Antwerp due to the war.

My grandfather, Paul Morgenstein, ended up in New York and built himself a successful business in diamonds, going out on the road for the first time in the 1950s to sell.

He also had an exceptional understanding for budget diamonds with great sparkle which he passed down to my mother. We call it the school of ‘Grandpa’.

From my father’s side, his father Max Lerner ran a factory in Israel which employed over 80 workers. He sat at the wheel himself too.

Max Lerner at the wheel in the factory in 1945

My parents, Joy & Gavriel, built a successful business together here in Antwerp over 35 years ago servicing American clients on a weekly basis for many years.

From both sides the names Lerner and Morgenstein were always associated with strong values and great reputations, something my parents have passed on to me and I hope to continue that legacy.

Yahalom is a trade magazine in Israel. They had a feature on ‘Generation to generation’ and interviewed Ayelet’s uncle and cousin in Tel Aviv.
Q. How is the polished diamond trade changing around the world? What, in your view, will be the future for Antwerp as a diamond centre?

A. There is no doubt that the polished diamond trade has gone through radical changes over the past 15 years and continues to change.

My parents used to have between one and three clients sitting with them weekly from the United States.

Today almost no American clients come to Antwerp at all. Diamond buying behaviour has changed across the board from wholesaler to jeweller to the end consumer, and we have had to adapt to that which has been very challenging but I believe we are on the right track.

Luckily our business was always based on service so we still have something fantastic to offer and that is what we have chosen to zone into. The real diamond needs of our customers, whatever those may be -- and serving them in the absolute best way that we can.

My parents and I are strong believers in Antwerp, and Antwerp has definitely had to fight for its place as a diamond centre, in the same way that many diamond companies are fighting to be able to stay in this business.

Paul Morgenstein in his diamond office in New York in the 80’s

We have a strong organisation representing us -- ‘AWDC’ - Antwerp World Diamond Centre, who are making great strides in continuing to attract business here and in promoting Antwerp for the diamond centre that it is.

Both logistically and geographically we are in a top spot, which enables us to easily do business around the world.

Q. Lerner Diamonds exhibited at the BrilliAnt edition of Antwerp Diamond Trade Fair for the first time in January 2017. How did that fair go for you and will you be exhibiting again at BrilliAnt at the end of January 2018?

A. We are definitely planning to be a regular feature at the BrilliAnt show in Antwerp.

This show is an excellent opportunity for us to meet new potential customers and brings both wholesalers and jewellers from all over Europe. It also gives Antwerp a chance to shine.



You can contact Ayelet at Lerner Diamonds on





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