As a fresh graduate from GIA, there were many roads that I could have stepped foot on. Some of my classmates went on to work for Tiffany & Co., others as appraisers, and some in retail sales. For me though, it was my fortune to have landed a position for the one of the most influential men in the wholesale antique and estate jewelry industry. He was a very humble, honest, and proud man by the name of Larry Ford.
At that time, the antique jewelry industry was booming, and he had a shop at the center of Manhattan’s diamond district. Just about every dealer in the industry, whether they were local New Yorkers, or from London or LA, came to the counter to buy and sell with Larry. Some of the most magnificent jewelry passed through my hands during those times, from the rarest period jewelry to crown jewels that once belonged to European royalty.
The lived experience of working for Larry for so many years taught me countless lessons that I could have never learned from a textbook or professor. Not only did I learn the ins and outs of the industry, how to buy, sell, and barter, but I learned that a successful business must be built on integrity. Anyone who knew Larry would tell you that he was not only an antique jewelry expert, but even more so, he was a man of strong values, which I believe was the number one reason he achieved such success in the industry.
I remember clearly the day that a gentleman approached our counter to sell Larry an adorable diamond and onyx Art Deco fox brooch. He was asking a small price of $1,000. Larry knew it was worth much more than that, so he gave the man $2,000 for the brooch, and then sold it to a dealer friend of his for $3,000, which was still a very good price. I saw first hand what it really meant to think first for your customers, and second for yourself.
After spending a decade with Larry, I moved on to work as an appraiser, under a master appraiser by the name of Robert Aretz. Robert was also a man of very strong virtues, and a man of his word. Through him I learned that there is no replacement for honesty, even when it might be much easier to bend the truth and make an extra dollar. As large as the jewelry industry is in Manhattan, it is a closely knit network of relationships built on generations of trust. Trust is more valuable than flawless diamonds, and any genuine dealer will tell you that.
Working with jewelry was far from just an occupation for me, it grew into the greatest passion and joy of my life. Similar to how a wine connoisseur may travel the world in search of the rarest of wines, discovering magnificent and rare pieces of antique jewelry is an experience like none other for me. Throughout my time working for Larry and Robert, I had been building up my own collection of antique jewelry. After leaving my appraisal job a few years ago, I launched my own company and brand, Anna Lin Jewelry, so that I could share my love for beautiful and rare jewelry with the world.
—Anna Lin, G.G.