Neil Press has had a lot of jobs in his life, from snowboarding instructor to hedge fund recruiter. It turned out that diamonds were his real passion.
“I’m a diamond guy by trade,” says Press. “I do ‘privates,’ which is what they call private showings in the industry. People come to me looking for that perfect stone.”
He looked at other office spaces, but then a cousin mentioned a coworking space called WeWork. He looked at several buildings before he decided on an office at WeWork Grand Central.
“My wife and I were super interested as soon as we heard about WeWork,” says Press. “It turned out to be ideal for us.”
Others in the industry might wonder why he didn’t find a spot for AlyseRyan in New York’s crowded Diamond District, where more than 2,600 independent retailers compete for customers along a single block of 47th Street.
“I will tell you, most people in my business wouldn’t consider this a good spot,” Press says. “I disagreed with that, obviously. I don’t need a storefront. I need a place where it’s just me and the client—nobody coming in the door, no interruptions.”
When he’s seeing a client, he’ll often reserve a conference room. There he’ll unpack a leather bag filled with the tools of his trade: a variety of tweezers, magnifying glasses, and a gauge that measures the stones down to a fraction of a millimeter. They’re all displayed under a wand-shaped jeweler’s lamp.
And then come the diamonds, shimmering under the bright light. If the client will wear the stone, he might place the diamonds directly on their hand, slowing what they’d look like set in a wedding ring.
What’s missing is an army of salespeople hovering nearby. This is the opposite of a hard sell. There’s no push for the big sale.
My business is all referral based, so I want to make sure that the customer is comfortable with what he’s purchasing,” says Press. “My job is to make sure everybody’s happy.”
He’s planning a move in the coming months to the newly opened WeWork Tower 49. (“Even closer to the Diamond District,” he confides, “but it maintains the intimacy and privacy that clients appreciate.”) In the meantime, he’s enjoying being around entrepreneurs working in a lot of different industries.
“It’s invigorating being around all these young and innovative people,” Press says. “And a lot of them might end up being future clients. They’re probably getting married at some point, right?
Photos by Katelyn Perry