Moti Ferder has been immersed in the diamond industry from a very young age. His family’s diamond business, which was established in Antwerp, Belgium in 1965, provided Ferder with extensive gemological training allowing him to develop his skills and become a highly specialized diamond cutter. Due to his vast experience in the family business, he has unparalleled insight into the diamond and jewelry industries. This knowledge contributed to his success in establishing Lugano Diamonds as one of the finest jewelers in the world.
Under his leadership, Lugano Diamonds opened its Newport Beach, California – based grand salon and headquarters in 2005. In years since Moti Ferder has built a talented sales team while personally managing all aspects of the company’s business. In 2013, given the success of the grand salon, he opened a second location at Montage Laguna Beach and most recently, a salon in Aspen, Colorado.
As design director of the company, Moti Ferder serves as the creative force behind Lugano’s spectacular, one-of-a-kind pieces. His jewelry designs have earned him recognition from luxury publications worldwide. In 2013, Ferder’s use of zirconium was honored with Robb Report’s ‘Best of the Best’ award, and in 2014, the publication recognized Lugano Diamonds’ remarkable designs again in its coveted Ultimate Gift Guide. Moti Ferder’s expertise is frequently referenced in leading jewelry publications.
We had the chance to sit down with Moti at his magnificent Lugano Diamonds showroom to talk a little about how he got into the diamond business, his inspirations and some suggestions for other business owners and entrepreneurs hoping to reach the next level.
1) What is your “backstory”?
From day one I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and this vision has grown beyond my wildest dreams. At night, I would watch my dad, a diamond trader, work with a pile of rough diamonds, sorting and marking them. My father was and continues to be, an extremely hard worker traveling the world buying rough diamonds. Having grown up with diamonds my whole life and covering all fields of the diamond and jewelry industry, one could say that I have diamonds in my DNA.
After spending four years in the Israeli army, I learned how to cut diamonds, along with all the processes diamonds go through and went to business school in the evenings. I became a CEO at only 22 years old, and my business took off. I was spending a tremendous time traveling, coming every two weeks to the U.S. After 15 years of this intense schedule my wife and I decided to move to the U.S. We researched the best areas to raise our family and moved to Orange County, California.
2) Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Right after the Iron Curtain fell in 1991, I was one of the first people to get into Russia to mine for diamonds. I went to the Central Bank in Ukraine to purchase diamonds from their stockpiles. It was a surreal experience – like a scene from a movie. I walked into this huge area and there were piles and piles of diamonds on tables, and I sifted through them, evaluating the stones before making my offer. I did this every day for a week. It was chaotic with the Russian guards and their guns and these long tables filled with stockpiles of diamonds. I’ll never forget it.
3) What exactly does your company do?
Lugano Diamonds designs and creates exquisite, one-of-a-kind jewelry. Each piece is a true work of art made with the world’s rarest and most precious gems. Our worldwide connections to procure rare, unique and the largest stones are exemplified in our stunning creations.
From the initial inspiration of the gem and design, our master craftsmen create each piece of jewelry to the highest standards with meticulous attention to detail. Their skill and expertise in incorporating the tiniest design elements into every Lugano creation result in a truly exceptional masterpiece. We closely connect with our clients, developing personal relationships, and we learn to understand their lifestyles and needs. We expose them to incredible gems and to our beautiful wearable works of art.
4) What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why?
- Long-term strategic thinking. Build with “forever” in mind and adapt to the opportunities and challenges. So often people think of three-, five-, even ten-year increments. As the CEO, decisions I make today will influence the outcome of Lugano’s forever.
- The psychological weight of caring. Caring for my wife, children, family, and friends is a given. But as a CEO – this caring extends much farther. Each employee, and his/her families; our clients who often become dear friends; vendors; and the list continues. When one’s business is based on superior levels of service, the caring factor weighs hugely on my shoulders.
- Hire slow and fire fast. We carefully research and examine each new employee hire. Our team is everything to our success. Lugano Diamonds executes the highest levels of customer service, so everything boils down to making our customers feel the best. We look for new team members to complement and perform the Lugano Diamonds’ attitude of exceeding our clients’ expectations with superior service.
- The time demands of personal visibility within the marketplace. Our clients live and travel throughout the world. The recent opening of the Lugano Diamonds Grand Salon in Aspen, Colo., the continual demand of social and cultural events, sponsoring worthwhile causes and equestrian events throughout the country means careful planning and scheduling is a must. Time is my most precious commodity, and there is never enough of it.
- Always provide value. Our pricing is based on multiple factors: the rarity of the gem, value, quality and time spent crafting the piece. Our goal is to be our clients’ trusted jeweler for life, and this value begins with their first purchase. If someone comes to us with a $5,000 budget, we are going to make sure that creation is beautiful and he/she are thrilled with his or her investment. We are proud of our clients’ loyalty and trust in us.
5) Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Elon Musk, the co-founder, CEO and product architect at Tesla, is my number one choice to share a private meal with. I believe Elon Musk is an incredible visionary, and I respect his way of thinking. He is that rare combination of an individual who is a solid strategic thinker, and he also wants to do good for the world. He has the vision to do great things for humanity and a primary mission to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future. He believes everything is possible.