- November 7, 2021
Doron Rozen was flipping a four-carat rough diamond up and down in his hand, much like you would treat a dime-store marble.
Rozen opened Diamonds by Doron in May at the San Marco Plaza (8225 Nature's Way) in Lakewood Ranch, and he was sitting in the back of his business, explaining the differences between his store and others in the retail end of the diamond business.
He obviously could see that I am a mall shopper, so it wouldn't be likely I would ever be a customer. I'm the guy who stands behind a salesman and nods his head as he says, "Can you see the great color?"
Oh yeah, baby. Do you gift wrap?
This is an entirely different level of distinction, and a nice fit for Lakewood Ranch residents of means.
Meanwhile, that rough diamond didn't have much to do with the conversation, except to provide Rozen with some mild amusement.
When he was finished taking care of this reporter's questions, Rozen nonchalantly twisted his wrist a bit, and then launched the diamond the length of an 8-foot desk. On the far end was a small box, which contained two other rough diamonds. The diamond Rozen had sent skyward fell out of the sky, landing right between the other two.
My eyes were locked on this maneuver, because I had thought of the many times I had missed the restroom trash can, from short distance, with a wad of rolled up paper towel. I was thinking if I had been so inclined to "hit the box" with a rough diamond, I might have overshot the box completely and landed the projectile in a sink's drain.
Certainly, a lifetime of dealing with diamonds leaves Rozen with extreme confidence when it comes to handling the precious stone, which he does much like Stephen Curry handles a basketball.
Why not? At 66, Rozen has been cutting, polishing, buying and selling diamonds since he was 13 in Tel Aviv, Israel. His grandfather, Phillip Levinegar, and father, Matiyhu Rozen, were both in the business and it was only natural he would follow along.
Young Rozen, however, did have a dream of racing catamarans, at least until the day he saw the diamond business was going to be far greater at paying the bills.
At 13, Rozen learned the diamond cutting side of the business from master David Goldfarb. He was moving up in the business quickly, but at 17, he joined an Israeli special forces unit that chased terrorists. If he hadn't been shot twice, he would have joined his unit in the raid on Entebbe Airport on July 4, 1976.
Instead, when Rozen left the military after four years, he took his skills to New York City to learn more cutting skills, and the financial side of the business, from cutter Sam Horowitz and from stocking Harry Winston Collections.
In 1979, Rozen discussed with a friend, Benzi Zedikov, about breaking away to start their own business. They each put together $10,000, and made a bold, $20,000 offer for a 10 carat rough diamond that a distributor told them wasn't worth the money. Even so, he sold it to them.
"I was an expert in Brazilian diamonds," Rozen said. "I said the stone would be a D color (the highest grade in diamonds) and, sure enough, the stone was very high color. We ended up making $200,000 profit."
They had proven to themselves that knowledge was king, so they moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1981, started a diamond business, and they still are partners today, although Zedikov works out of Israel. They ran their business in Memphis for 41 years.
All the background is important as Rozen has never been afraid to take chances, which is important in the diamond business. What has set him apart from others in the same line of work is the tremendous amount of work he does to reduce his risk.
Even now, Rozen said he only sleeps about three hours a night as much of the night he takes care of his overseas duties. Last week, he led a syndicate that bid $1.5 million on a rough diamond in Hong Kong.
Rozen said he has built a reputation for specializing in "problematic rough diamonds and how to turn them into a gem."
His grandfather was a master, staring at rough diamonds for days, weeks, months and even longer to figure out how to get the best yield. Rozen calls it "opening windows." It's all about seeing a rough diamond's potential, or lack of. The diamonds are cut and cleaved to make spectacular creations.
Rozen, who has been married to his wife Linda for 39 years, doesn't cut any diamonds here in Lakewood Ranch, so he flies every two weeks to Tel Aviv and Antwerp, Belgium to oversee the process.
"There is nothing like me in this area," he said with pride. "I buy directly from the mine. My diamonds are cut in Israel."
I asked Rozen why he remains in the business. He loves to play golf and has played dozens of PGA Tour celebrity events, pairing with the likes of pros Chris DiMarco, David Toms and John Daly, along with celebrities Joe Theismann, Yogi Berra, Michael Jordan, Glen Campbell, Samuel Jackson and Johnny Bench. His good friend Maury Povich is his regular partner. He could be playing all the time.
"I like the chase," he said. "During COVID, I was climbing the walls. I played golf every day, but I wanted to work. My dad, my grandpa, they bother worked well into their 80s. It's good for the mind."
It would have been good for my mind to try the diamond toss, but I thought better of asking. It's almost Christmas, so I was headed to the mall.