Impassioned entrepreneur, Zameer Kassam, prompting men to entirely rethink engagement rings through bespoke ‘secret story-driven’ designs; singularly ushers in brazen new era in fine jewelry category
It’s been said that “few jewelers—if any—can boast that a Federal Reserve honcho sits on its advisory board”—let alone head it up. But this is a powerful truth for the audacious and fashion-forward entrepreneur Zameer Kassam, whose eponymous fine jewelry business is being advised by his former Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan, now chief executive of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and a former vice chairman of investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Kaplan’s interest is entirely understandable given the ingenuity of the endeavor, as Kassam’s business model “takes ‘bespoke’ to a new level”—and in a way that’s uniquely resonating with men in particular.
Indeed Kassam is prompting men to entirely rethink engagement rings through “secret story-driven” designs and, in the process, is singularly ushering in a brazen new era in fine jewelry category. Today, Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry (ZKFJ) works with men who seek entirely original, dream-worthy engagement rings (ranging in price from $10K to “the sky’s the limit”) that that artfully take stock of a couple’s journey in matchless form. ZKFJ clients are struck by the uniqueness of its method, the personal nature of which caters to this desire for something entirely original, reveling in the opportunity to infuse details of their personal love stories into a piece of meaningful fine jewelry.
There are no glass cases at Kassam’s fine jewelry business. In fact, there isn’t even a store. Instead, this bold and brilliant young entrepreneur’s approach to jewelry is ushering in a new engagement ring era. One where the process of procuring a ring is far more personalized and intimate, and the “Four C’s” are no longer the singular gold standard by which to acquire that so-called “perfect piece.” Instead, his enormously distinctive rings are steeped in meaning, actually telling a couple’s personal love story and holding intimate secrets about a couple. Perhaps a hidden gemstone tells of the moment they met; a tiny carving signifies an important part of her heritage; strategically-placed shapes resemble the marital venue architecture; or a clandestine code that celebrates the moment he realized she was the one or a challenge they overcame together—moments that have made their unity stronger and depended their connection. With this, every ring is one-of-a-kind, wholly designed around a couples own love story—its historical path and its future promises—to serve as a stunning symbolism-laden narrative of a couple’s lives together. Kassam’s company has instituted a new story-driven standard where the sentimental meaning and reverence for the groom’s deeper-seeded thoughtfulness trumps even the monetary value of the ring in the heart and mind of the recipient…and all who gaze upon it.
Now with his vision realized amid a global client roster, Kassam is shaking up industry complacency. He’s single-handedly changing both the way men shop for engagement rings and what’s become a far more expressive end result of his “labor of love.” Already, in February, Zameer placed third in VOGUE Magazine’s annual list of the most “dream-worthy engagement rings” – ahead of iconic brands such as Van Clef, Graff, and David Yurman. Not bad for a brand that was just launched in 2012.
The Personalized & Perfectionist Process
In a highly personalized process that takes anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months and beyond, Zameer and his team follow three important client-centric steps:
1) Tutorial: A 30 minute conversation detailing the most important criteria to keep in mind when searching for the perfect diamond or other gemstone—and pitfalls to avoid.
2) Discovery: An hour-long casual discussion that covers important and meaningful details of the client’s love story.
3) Storytelling: Zameer and his team share diamond/gemstone options and ideas for the design infused with elements of their individual story. Perhaps a hidden gemstone tells of the moment they met; a tiny carving signifies an important part of her heritage; or a clandestine code celebrates the moment he realized she was the one.
Unlike the traditional, routine process of buying jewelry that is often stressful, transactional and unimaginative, the ZKFJ method is extremely personal, engaging and notably less time consuming than conventional ring procurement—an endeavor that’s become decidedly conformist. First, ZKFJ does not have a retail location. Rather, the process starts with Zameer and his team of Storytellers traversing the globe to meet in-person with a client (and the client only, no fiancée/friends/relatives), perhaps over a scotch in a plush hotel lobby if not his Midtown Manhattan design studio. Here the Storyteller gains a full understanding of the client’s needs, in his voice, and learns about their own unique love story. The client need not have an “epic” or “over-the-top” love story to tell, but rather provide simple details applicable to every couple. The Storyteller adeptly navigates the conversation to delve deeply into areas that hold great meaning for the client and couple, to identify and extract the most momentous happenings, occasions and locations to commemorate.
Zameer then takes those inspirations to a ZKFJ Gemologist who, with Zameer’s close oversight, scours the earth for exquisite diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and other gemstones worthy of the specific story. Zameer often travels himself to view the final options, venturing as far as Botswana, Afghanistan and Australia in search of the perfect gemstone. Through painstaking testing, each option must meet exacting standards relative to fire, life, brilliance and other uncompromising benchmarks. Zameer himself then brings the story to life in sketches that realize a classic and timeless aesthetic to be coveted through the ages. Ultimately, a ZKFJ Artisan hand-sculpts the physical heirloom jewel, sometimes requiring over one hundred hours of hand fabrication to perfect. All ZKFJ pieces are crafted in New York City using the finest materials available, and the client is engaged throughout the entire process from start to finish.
The Exceptional Extras
The design process culminates in more than a deeply meaningful piece of jewelry to be cherished and admired forever. Beautiful keepsake art in the form of hand-written notes and sketches, as well as photography of the finished piece, are gifted to the couple. In some cases, ZKFJ is honored to host a celebration to debut the jewel and congratulate the couple. Each event is designed around the client, their lifestyle and their love story. All of these efforts capture the personalized process, and elements curated thereto, for the family to enjoy forever. By telling a couple’s special story, a ZKFJ jewel is far more meaningful than typical jewelry; it is a piece of family history. Over time, as other celebratory milestones are chronicled with ZKFJ, the suite of jewels can capture the holistic story of a family and a life well-lived for generations to come.
The Ingenious and Idealistic Designer
Zameer Kassam has been hailed as “no ordinary jeweler” and was anointed by VOGUE as an “iconic” designer with a “timeless, classic” aesthetic. Zameer’s love affair with jewelry began in his teens while working at his family jewelry business in Vancouver, Canada. After honing his business skills as an analyst at McKinsey & Company, and later with MTV Networks International, Zameer wholeheartedly reentered the world of fine jewelry. While at Harvard Business School, he conducted research projects that took him to the diamond mines of Botswana and South Africa, the production labs of India, the trading centers of Israel and Belgium, and the luxury boutiques of 5th Avenue and Bond Street. Upon graduation, he joined De Beers Louis Vuitton where he served as the head of their global bridal business, working with some of the finest artisans and most exceptional jewels of our time. It was during his tenure at De Beers that Zameer realized jewelry is about so much more than incredibly beautiful gemstones or the excitement of wearing a magnificent piece; it is about celebrating life’s most important moments in a way that will last forever.In 2011, this passion led him to create his own high-end bespoke brand, Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry.
Today, Zameer and his team have created more than 600 remarkable story-driven fine jewelry pieces for private clients around the world. Each of these projects tells the client’s meaningful story in subtle, discreet details that are weaved into the designs—stories that deserve nothing less than an uncompromising level of quality.
The Spoils of Success
ZKFJ’s unique and endearing approach has captured global attention. The company recently announced a partnership with De Beers’ brand of beautiful, rare and responsibly-sourced diamonds, Forevermark. The two entities recently unveiled the Zameer Kassam custom-made engagement rings set with Forevermark diamonds and the launch of a related microsite, http://zameerkassam.com/forevermark, that provides details on the unique Zameer Kassam process, how a ring can tell a story and this exciting partnership. Less than one percent of the world’s diamonds are eligible to become a Forevermark diamond, each carefully chosen for its fire, life and brilliance. Moreover, Forevermark diamonds are only available at select exclusive jewelers who are passionate about utilizing and creating the finest designs inspired by these exceptional diamonds.
“We have always scoured the earth to find extraordinary gemstones for our clients,” said Zameer. “With this Forevermark partnership, we can proudly offer our clients the world’s finest diamonds. Moreover, I am deeply passionate about the impact these diamonds have on the countries they come from, having conducted field research in Botswana while a student at Harvard University. My entire team is excited to support diamonds that are responsibly-sourced and truly worthy of the couple’s story.”
Charles Stanley, president of Forevermark US, noted, “We are pleased to be partnering with Zameer Kassam Fine Jewelry to offer a new way to showcase Forevermark diamonds. Both brands tell a story that enhances the meaning of a diamond engagement ring and makes it that much more special for the wearer.”
Forevermark is the diamond brand from The De Beers Group of Companies, and it benefits from over 128 years of diamond expertise. Forevermark diamonds are carefully selected and are beautifully crafted by a select group of diamantaires. They are exclusively available from select authorized Forevermark Jewelers.