My grandfather Bert was a manufacturing jeweler. He had an office located at 62 West 47th Street in NYC. My grandmother Helen Horn had a retail jewelry booth on the corner of 47th and 6th Avenue in NYC, where she sold the jewelry that Bert designed. In addition, my grandparents purchased jewelry, diamonds and watches from the public. My Uncle Stanley - my mother’s brother was a diamond setter, who worked together with Bert and Helen. Jewelry, antiques and collectibles are just in my blood.
Valuable Antiques Find a New Home
My dad was a pharmacist. When he semi-retired from his profession, he discovered his true passion - his love of antiques, especially when he came across valuable antiques.
While most kids have bicycles, sports equipment and even a car or two in the garage, mine was converted into an antique store - lined with showcases of valuable antiques. Quickly outgrowing the garage in 1970, “Horses Head Antiques” of Valley Stream, NY opened its doors, providing clients with an honest and reputable place to buy and sell estate jewelry, antiques and collectibles.
My parents Bruce and Harriet Blank always had integrity and strong working ethics. Through their love and guidance, I learned to set goals, and have respect and compassion for those around me. My parents never rested, they loved attending, buying and selling at flea markets and trade shows. Mom and dad built wonderful relationships with their clients. They enjoyed the whole experience - that’s probably why they were so successful.
Diamond Grading and Evaluation Certification
And so, the story continues… my dad wanted more. So, he went to the Gemological Institute of America, becoming certified in diamond grading and evaluation. Now, he was also in, “the business”, opening the door to many jewelry discussions between my grandfather and dad.
My grandfather was a wealth of information, 99.99% of the time. To this day, I remember a heated discussion between him and my dad regarding a rose diamond, which my parents came upon. Is a rose diamond a diamond? My grandfather said, “No” and my dad said, “Yes” - strongly! Truth be told, a rose diamond is a diamond. In fact, it was one of the first diamonds fashioned into jewelry. It is a flat (no pavilion), faceted on the top only diamond, that looks like a mountain. Boy, I can still hear them arguing, of course it was discussed lovingly.
Now, it was my time, time for me to think about my future. I remember telling my parents that I would never go into, “the business”, despite my fascination with items discarded in the trash by others. You see, as a boy, I remember delivering newspapers and being amazed at what was thrown away at the end of the driveway. Looking down from my bushel basket of newspapers, I remember seeing a pair of gold eyeglasses, and antique Chinese Mudman figurines, which were worth $50 - $100. Yes, I was intrigued. My first of many valuable antiques.
Becoming a Graduate Gemologist
I graduated from Stony Brook with an undergraduate degree in Psychology. On my way home from graduation, my mom asked the all-important question, “So, what are you going to do with that degree?” For the first time, I was speechless - I had no idea. Of course, mom had an idea; she told me about the Gemological Institute of America, located in NYC. I went for an interview - just to see if I liked it, and I did! I applied, attended and graduated with the only passing grade of 100%. Now, following in my dad’s footsteps, I too was certified in diamond grading and evaluation, and continued at GIA, to become a G.G. - Graduate Gemologist.
My dad, Bruce Blank was simply amazing, a true expert in diamonds. His passion shined brightly, in fact he glowed when working with his clients. Feeling the same passion, I was now ready to utilize my education and invaluable experiences to begin my career. I applied to one of the world’s renowned auction houses - Christie’s Auction House. I remember the interview process - it still makes me smile today. I was handed an emerald, and told to evaluate it. Fortunately, I knew that the one tiny inclusion revealed that it had to be a synthetic emerald - the shape of the crystal gave it away. I was hired immediately!
I had the opportunity to study for six months in NYC and London, before becoming head of the jewelry department of Christie’s East, located on East 67th Street in NYC. I immersed myself at Christie’s for one year, working with jewelry, silver and watches. I remember the thrill of selling my first pink diamond. I was hooked.
My journey continues and has led me to successfully build National Estate Jewelers of East Brunswick, NJ. Proudly, I am the third generation who fell in love with estate jewelry, antiques and collectibles.
Come visit and let me spark your interest in this magical industry. National Estate Jewelers is conveniently located at 212 NJ-18 in East Brunswick, next to the FedEx office. Stop in or call 732-257-GOLD (4653).