Charismatic and assertive, Gabriel Jacobs aka Gabe shouts loudly into his phone inside the diamond district foothold Rafaello & Co. Today, the jeweler, famous for being the on-call bling designer for all your favorite artists, is furious at the recent release of the movie Uncut Gems featuring Adam Sandler because of the strong likeness to himself and familiar synopsis about a New York City jeweler's relentless grind. Despite his phone ringing off the hook, he calms down enough to share the story of his craft and shows us the collection he's made to honor Craft Syndicate, the creative accelerator for aspiring artists.
"The strong move quiet. It's the weak ones that are loud and always seeking attention."
Gabe is the boss and you better recognize his game. He curses whenever he wants, shoots death stares at any employee doing something annoying, and has no problem telling people to, more or less, shut up if they're saying (or singing) something that bothers him inside his shop. A man walks in to show him a bag of diamonds worth over 10 million dollars and he gives his stamp of approval. The seasoned jewelry seller recalls, "I've been in this game since I was a teenager. I was fifteen maybe sixteen and had no interest in the family business whatsoever. But like all things that you grow up around, it made an impression on me. Sooner or later I was selling jewelry."
As an adolescence accepting his fate to be a jeweler after his father and grandfather, he decided to craft the industry to his taste. Surrounded by chains and custom jewelry pieces in the form of Air Jordans, he remembers the first custom chain he made with his cousin to include emerald inlays, the first of its kind. Jacobs was into culture. He hustled in clubs, selling jewelry to rappers while they were partying. When his stock didn't meet the needs of an artist, he created custom pieces. After years of closing deals, Gabe found himself with a giant star-studded roster holding more names than the Bible's intro. Rappers loved his persistent nature. Jacobs tells us, "People like my in-your-face attitude. They trust me with their money to make the crazy things. Now you have jewelry makers on Instagram promoting themselves, the game is so much easier these days." Although Rafaello & Co. is one of the first stores in New York to cater to a clientele of rappers and personalities, Gabriel lays low and does very little marketing. He says emphatically, "The strong move quiet. It's the weak ones that are loud and always seeking attention."
Now decades later, Gabe is hands down an expert when it comes to diamonds. He takes the time to lecture us on diamond cuts and how the market is trending. When asked what's next, he reminds us he's a creative, "I'm always looking to do new things for clients, things no one has ever done or seen." The statement soon leads him to remember the era of spinning chains and how, in an effort to make a spinning globe chain at the request of a rapper, he had to take one piece to his uncle, an engineer, to finesse technical details. In the end, the spinning globe chain had to be battery-powered from the center of the globe. The gold piece still exists today in the hands of one famous red-haired rapper.
Since mastering the jewelry market, Gabe has plans to also become an actor. "I was born to be an actor. I just have the personality." Although he plans to be an actor, Gabe notes he'll never give up his jewelry business. It's one that's been in the family for decades ever since his family immigrated from Russia. When asked for advice for aspiring jewelry makers, he gives us the hard truth, "You need a lot of money for this business. Not only that, imagine what goes on in this world. People used to kill for gold and silver. What do you think they do now?" As the tough reality dawned on our crew, Complex took to admiring the tricked out Craft Syndicate collection in silence.
Check it out below and be sure to peep into Rafaello and Co. on 47th street between 5th and 6th avenue for a chance to spot Gabe stepping on someone's neck and, of course, all the drip.