By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Sharon Lehew is in the business of making dreams come true.
As the general sales manager of Robbins Brothers: The Engagement Ring Store, Lehew shines when she describes why the business specializes in engagement rings and engagement diamonds.
“A lot of people say, ‘What does that mean? Don’t they go together?’ she says,
“Eventually, yes. However, our diamond buyers actually fly across the world to hand select the diamonds for their visual beauty and brilliance.”
Robbins Brothers opened four years ago in the Scottsdale Airpark area; Lehew has been with the company since 1992. She knows the ins and outs of the industry.
Located in the Airpark area, Robbins Brothers isn’t interested in run-of-the-mill diamonds. At other stores, diamond dealers send what they have in stock. They arrive, they cut and check and “that’s it.”
“No one has ever looked at them,” Lehew adds. “If a diamond isn’t visually beautiful and brilliant, we get rid of it. We say no to nine out of every 10 diamonds.”
“We just pick all the diamonds and then once the diamonds are selected, then we go, OK, let’s see if we agree on the color, the clarity, how well it’s cut, the carat weight, and then decide on a fair price.”
That process, she says, ensures that every woman who selects a diamond from Robbins Brothers will get one that was selected from the “most beautiful diamonds that are out there.”
“Many couples see the difference in our diamonds, versus others,” she adds.
Lehew explains there are 38.5 million factors that go into making one diamond. The four Cs equate to rarity and rarity affects expense.
“That’s why, after you pick the prettiest diamond, you want to know, ‘OK, do we agree on the clarity and the color, carat and weight?’
“The other part is the room. We say, ‘engagement ring specialists’ and ‘engagement diamond specialists.’ We use all the tools with the diamonds.”
The 90-year-old business was founded in the 1920s in Seattle when Ben Tipp opened a jewelry store offering jewelry for every occasion. His son, Eugene Robbins, purchased a new store, William Pitt Jewelers in Pasadena. Robbins’ sons, Skip and Steve, took over the company’s management. Baby Boomers in need of rings and jewelry necessitated expansion and by the 1970s the single store became a regional chain.
Skip and Steve decided to carry on the family’s trademark customer service and opened Robbins Brothers: World’s Biggest Engagement Ring Store” in Fullerton, California. Now known as Robbins Brothers: The Engagement Ring Store, the chain has 15 locations in California, Texas, Washington and Arizona.
That customer service offers a hands-on approach to shopping. Meeting rooms along the perimeter of the showroom allow shoppers the chance to thoroughly look at their diamond(s) before purchasing.
They put the diamond on the scale and verify the weight. Guests then put the diamond under a gem scope and view the natural markets, and if they match the certificate. The process is fun because shoppers can self-discover what they like about each diamond. Each diamond has, what Lehew calls, “personality traits.”
“They also have the color gradient trace so they can lay it sideways so they can see the true color. They use the tweezers and check the diamond. We teach them really quickly and then they get to drive it.
“It’s just really fun. It’s a whole different way of doing it. It’s not like somebody is just coming in here and taking the diamond out and showing it to them, handing it to them and they’re wondering what they’re looking at.”
Lehew compares it to twins. At first it’s hard to tell them apart, but as you get to know their mannerisms and personalities, it’s not tough.
“Diamonds have a similar effect on people,” Lehew says. “They can put them all out there and they can have the same grading and all be beautiful and brilliant, but for some reason, they’ll see which one they liked the most and it’ll speak to them. There’s something in that personality of the diamond—the beauty, the sparkle or the characteristic that makes them go, ‘Wow.’”
Robbins Brothers carries the equivalent of 20 jewelry stores. The designers it works with have the same quality control practices.
“You can see all the different designers’ styles and we don’t carry every designer,” she says. “We have a nice selection of designers and we chose them because they have the same quality control in mind that we do.”
Lehew describes Robbins Brothers’ warranty as top notch. Diamonds come with a lifetime diamond warranty. If a side diamond becomes dislodged, Robbins Brothers will set an appointment with the customer and jeweler and the diamond will be reset and replaced within an hour. The only caveat is diamond owners must bring their ring in for a check-up annually.
“It’s a six-point inspection,” she says. “The jeweler will check every single nook and cranny on the rings, the prongs and wearability.
“Chipped diamonds can be repolished, but that’s not what we prefer. If it’s beyond repair, they get to keep their diamond, and have it reset on us. If there’s an upgrade wanted, we give them 10% more than what they paid for for their diamond.
“We just want to make people happy.”
7435 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, Scottdale,