What do we want from a great shopping experience? Fabulous merchandise, extraordinary prices, ideal location. Add in the best in customer service, and you’ve got Ultra Diamonds, right in the heart of the shopper’s paradise known as Woodbury Common.
What sets this store above and beyond the other great venues in this vast outlet center is manager Alan Siegel, and the way he leads his team of dedicated professionals. “We want to make our customers happy,” he explains. “It’s our goal to have everyone walk out the door smiling. This is the philosophy of our CEO Danny Marks, and it really works.”
As you walk into the shop, you immediately see the cases of Peter Lam jewelry ($899 and up). Ultra Diamonds is the exclusive U.S. carrier for this well respected Hong Kong designer. All of Lam’s jewelry is handcrafted; exquisitely cut diamonds are set in 18kt. gold or platinum. There are several showcases, each with the name of a design theme. The Orbit collection, for example, is described as “the embodiment of two people whose love revolves around one another. It is about being at the center of one’s universe.” The jewelry is as romantic as the description.
Walking through the store, it’s almost impossible to decide which item to feature first, but it makes sense to start with the most popular gemstone. Quite naturally, up to 80% of the store’s business comes from customers seeking the best value in diamonds. This is a popular destination for engagement rings. The one that really caught my eye was 2.05 carats, set in 14kt gold ($28,000). It had exceptional clarity, was nearly colorless, and it sparkled clear across the room.
This fancy cut from Canada comes, of course, with a certificate of authenticity. Better yet, it can be traced, since it has a laser inscribed code on the side. There are many sizes of diamonds in the store; all were chosen to ensure the best quality for the money spent.
“Sooner or later, you’re going to need a pair of diamond studs,” Alan smiles as he leads me to a counter with earrings that range upward from a total weight of .10 carats set in 14kt gold ($88), perfect for a child’s first pair. Most enticing is a pair of studs of four carats total weight, set in 14kt gold ($35,000). These are perfect for day into evening, and could easily be worn by a lady or a really cool gentleman.
Diamonds in exotic colors are all the rage now. Who could just walk past the one and one-half carat natural yellow and white diamond earrings in 18 kt. gold ($4999)? I learned a lot from Siegel about the jewelry he carries. When I asked if he had any “chocolate” diamonds, he smiled and said “No, but we have café diamonds. Chocolate is a registered name, from another company.”
I was concerned about whether or not the prices might go up as the price of gold soars. “Fortunately,” he assured me, “we have a lot of inventory, so our clients don’t have to worry about the fluctuations in the gold market.”
While the finest in gold and diamonds is available, lower priced items also sell well. For those who can’t quite manage the men’s bracelet in 14kt, with 13.10 carats of diamonds ($14,000), there are less expensive styles in sterling silver ($179). All of these bracelets would certainly look good on a woman, too.
Everyone wants a Tanzanite piece, and Ultra Diamonds has some real beauties. They carry a breathtaking pendant, which has been a big seller. Done in 14kt gold, with 7.3 carats of Tanzanite and .62 carats of diamonds ($8300), it’s nearly irresistible.
Another eye popper is the Tanzanite ring which is done in 18 kt. white gold, with 9.39 carats of Tanzanite, and 2.33 carats of diamonds ($15,000). The color on these two pieces is spectacular, a saturated violetish-blue, with the look of luxurious velvet.
There really is something for everyone. For the hippest shoppers, there are trendy Shamballa bracelets ($89- $149), black macramé and dazzling bead combinations that are popular in the hip-hop world. My local jewelry store sells these for over $200, proof positive of the good deals available at Ultra Diamonds. A word to the wise: make sure you know how to remove your bracelet before you leave the store. I wore mine for three days before someone showed me how to take it off. Incidentally, it was just fine after multiple showers and a lot of computer pounding.
A belt style bracelet of cubic zirconia in sterling silver ($499) (opening photo) was splashy enough to wear to the fanciest New Year’s Eve party.There’s a jeweler on site five days a week; he can reset diamonds while you wait, or change that watch battery you’ve been meaning to get around to.
Eight associates work at Ultra Diamonds Woodbury. Each has had extensive training to become a certified Diamontologist. Their knowledge of the stock is most impressive; one suggested that I check out the Invicta watches, which are worn by professional divers. They have oversize faces, and come in a chic yellow “lunch bucket” style box. Definitely the gift for the man who has everything.
One reason that Ultra Diamonds works so well is that an entrepreneurial spirit is encouraged in the mangers. Not only is there a fully stocked clearance corner full of goodies, but Alan Siegel always makes sure there’s something terrific happening every day in his store. There are Ultimate Deals, and ever changing specials. For the Labor Day weekend, there will be a “buy more, save more” event.
But for me, the best news of the day was that my favorite associate, Iris Moreno, has been promoted to be the manager of a store opening soon in Paramus, N.J., and I can’t wait. Before long she, like Alan Siegel, will be making decisions that are sure to please jewelry lovers in the area. Promoting from within, encouraging the best employees to climb the corporate Ultra Diamonds ladder; now that’s good business.
Ultra Diamonds at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
344 Red Apple Court, Space 344; Central Valley, NY 10917; 845-928-3892
Please note: product availability and prices are subject to change.
Photo credit: John Warner
Michall Jeffers and her husband, photographer John Warner, enjoy chronicling their shopping expeditions together in her words and his images. Michall writes extensively, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. www.michalljeffers.com