Haute Living Sits down with Jacob the Jeweler

Jacob Arabo doesn’t just make timepieces. He adorns the arms of the rich and powerful.

Arabo’s flawless attention to detail and consistent execution of his unique timepieces has established Jacob & Co. as the most sought after jewelry and watch manufacturer for top clients around the world. The brand’s hugely diverse clientele, first made popular by athletes and rappers, has grown to include royal families, Hollywood celebrities, musicians, politicians, business leaders and true timepiece connoisseurs. This highly powerful client base has chosen Jacob & Co. as their go-to for high-end watches, jewelry and diamonds for more than 25 years.

His love for design began early. During his teenage years, the Uzbekistan-born Arabo decided to head to America to pursue his dream of becoming a watch and jewelry designer.

“Designing has been my passion since I was a child,” Arabo said. “I was mesmerized by my mother and sister’s jewelry; they would watch me as I would take pieces apart and reconstruct them.”  By age 17, Arabo was designing jewelry and had enrolled in a six-month jewelry course where he “fell in love with the power and emotion of diamonds and gold.”

After the course, Arabo began an internship with  a local jewelry manufacturer, which led to a full-time position as a designer. Arabo soon set out on his own.

“I started from the ground up and by the time I was 21 years old, I had my own small manufacturing operation designing custom jewelry for my private clients,” he said.

Rather than moving to another major metropolitan area like Miami, Las Vegas or Beverly Hills, Arabo knew he wanted to be in New York. First located on 47th Street, Arabo was able to build his business before opening up his $12.2 million flagship store on 57th Street between Madison and Park, a prime retail locale.

“New York is the one city in the world where you can find so many different cultures and backgrounds,” he said. “New York is a special place; it is the launch pad for many who have aspired to reach new heights. It is also the jewelry manufacturing center of America. I found so many of my clients live in New York and it is the home of so many of the world’s iconic jewelers. No other city could offer me so many opportunities.”

Another key component of his success is his design theory. Each watch or piece of jewelry is created with the buyer in mind, produced specifically for the individual’s personal style.  According to Arabo, there is no single defining aesthetic of his pieces.

“I design for everyone, I don’t have a specific look, and my consistency is in the quality,” he said. “My inspiration comes from many different things; sometimes the customer becomes the icon of my inspiration and what I create is a reflection of their personality. I like to style my clients and make everyone feel like a star.”

Arabo also alters his designs to reflect his varying clientele.

“It could be to a royal figure head that must wear classical and vintage looks, a corporate business person who needs finesse in design and requires day-to-evening appropriate jewelry and Hollywood celebrities who are extremely fashion conscious, not afraid to wear bold designs or require stunning red carpet jewels and so on,” he said.

His Old World techniques such as the exacting art and science of gem cutting and polishing and the crafting of precious metals into flawless settings are what make Jacob & Co. truly unique.  Each jewel, infused with diamonds, sparkles more than the next. Jacob & Co. has also been commissioned to do special items such as bridal collections, baby monogrammed spoons, writing instruments, luxury car logos, even diamond-encrusted salt and pepper shakers.

But 25 years of success doesn’t come easily and Arabo knows the importance of satisfying his high-powered clients.

“We are known for making their custom requests come to reality,” he said. A wide assortment of products doesn’t hurt either – Arabo lists fine jewelry, watches, red carpet pieces and one of a kind heirlooms among Jacob & Co.’s luxe wares.

The brand’s notable fans include A-list celebrities such as Sir Elton John, Bono, David and Victoria Beckham, Gisele Bundchen, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Karl Lagerfeld, Naomi Campbell, Stefano Gabbana, Wyclef Jean, Madonna, Michael Jordan, Jennifer Lopez and Rudy Giuliani.

Arabo understands the importance and influence of these high-powered clients – and often, his best form of advertisement is by word of mouth, sometimes appearing in the form of song. It is rare that you will hear a rap song without the mention of Jacob & Co.; some of Arabo’s first clients are today’s most popular hip hop and rap artists. In his early days, Arabo crafted unique diamond-encrusted chains, watches, and other iced-out items.

“Our celebrity clientele are our greatest ambassadors for my creations,” he said. “They understand the creativity of my designs and they wear my jewelry and watches all across the globe; I couldn’t ask for a better form of social media.  We live in a global community that keeps shrinking, hence my inspiration for multiple time zones, distance and communication barriers are becoming obsolete between people and we have all these wonderful devices to keep us connected…and on time.”

Arabo’s adoration of worldliness shines through in his multitude of collections; whether it be diamonds in an array of colors shaped like the world in his “The World is Yours” line or the H-24 which features four separate dials for the times in Los Angeles, New York, Moscow, and London.

It seems every star wants to wear a Jacob watch – and Arabo is nothing less than grateful for his popularity among the A-list set.

“It makes me feel that my work is valued and appreciated and that perhaps my work has made some contribution to their creative inspiration,” he said. “I am inspired by artists and talent all the time so I believe this is a force field of sharing creativity and inspiration.”

Arabo also spoke about Baselworld 2011, the Super Bowl of timepieces.

“Baselworld 2011 was finally the year that the industry has been waiting for since the global crises started more than two years ago,” he said. “I was happy to see the energy back, for us specifically we had a brilliant show. Our markets are revitalized, excited for the novelties, attendance was high.”

And Jacob & Co. shows no signs of slowing down.

“We are expanding our distribution around the globe with Jacob & Co boutiques opening in Moscow and other cities to be announced shortly,” Arabo said “We are developing Jacob & Co. brand extensions and we will have exciting new watch designs ready for Baselworld 2012.”

A few new faces will also be joining forces with Arabo and his world-renowned design team.  In June, Andrew Block, former executive vice president of Tourneau was named the chief operating officer of Jacob & Co.

“Andrew brings nearly 20 years of experience in the watch and luxury business,” Arabo said. “His retail and marketing background combined with his brand building expertise will help us to carry out our expansion plans for Jacob & Co.”

There were a few notable additions to the brand, as well. Earlier this year, model MillaJovovich was named the new face of Jacob & Co.’s global advertisement campaign, a partnership unveiled at Baselworld 2011. Director and martial arts action star Donnie Yen was announced as the brand’s Asia ambassador, also this year.

Represented in more than 60 countries with prestigious retail partnerships, celebrity ambassadors and supportive clientele, Jacob & Co. seems to have it all.

“Our team is fully dedicated to continue to expand the business and will carry on the legacy of my designs and inspiration for generations to come,” Arabo said. “My feeling about the high-end watch industry is this: that just as any work of art or sophisticated engine or car, there is always a market for luxury. Innovation, design and engineering is all part of what makes the world go around and makes the mind tick.”

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