Working on Facebook all day long, I meet all kinds of people online. Some post funny or inspirational photos, some people only talk about politics, and others are obsessed with their bodies. A melting pot of personalities who digitally define themselves with pictures, posts, and comments.
But as an epicurean, it is the pictures that attract my attention, especially those of food. In France we have a saying: “Foodie one day, foodie always.”
And that’s how I met Jeff, thanks to his food pictures. I finally met a friend who loves food as much as I do!
At times it is good to get away from the virtual life for some personal interaction, so I invited him to join me at one of my favorite places in Orient Bay; La Table d’Antoine. After being warmly greeted by Antoine, the host of the house, we ordered our dishes and wine and began talking like long-lost friends.
Born in Mumbai, Jeff is one of a family of three children.
He moved to Bangkok, Thailand at 18 years of age to begin a career as a fashion designer and enjoyed much success while there.
But after ten years in the “Country of smiles”and while still young and adventurous, he wanted something more; he wanted to discover the world and polish the diamond that he was destined to be.
With his sister and brother, they decided to start a new adventure in the jewelry industry.
It was an exciting challenge for a family with love, humility, and respect defining their relationships as well as their business acumen.
They moved to California to study at the Gemological Institute of America where they all received gemologist diplomas (they are the only ones with this distinction in all the Caribbean).
With diplomas in hand and a dream to fulfill, they decided to settle in Sint Maarten and opened DK Gems in February of 2001.
Their hard work paid off.
Voted best jewelry store in 2015 by the Daily Herald, they specialize in diamonds, but also offer a wide variety of other fine jewelry from the mid-range to the very high end. Regardless of the customers’ budget, needs, and desires, he serves every individual with the same humility and respect.
For example, Jeff told me a story of an elderly woman who was just passing by and stopped to ask him where she could find some fabrics on Front Street. Jeff immediately took her to his friend’s fabric shop and took the time to assist with her selections. When she finished, she insisted on going back to Jeff’s store and purchased an $80 bracelet in appreciation of his kindness.
She now returns to DK Gems every year to spend thousands on fine jewelry; twelve years running as of this writing.
Another amazing story was one of a woman who entered the shop with a huge Alexandrite ring. Jeff, being a gemologist, asked for a closer inspection and discovered this was an antique and very rare piece of jewelry with an estimated worth of least 4 million dollars!
When he relayed this information to the lady, she laughed and replied that it was an inheritance from her Russian family and he was surely mistaken.
Fearing something bad might happen if an unscrupulous merchant were to also discover this, he humbly advised her to seek out another expert appraisal to confirm his findings.
He also told her not to be surprised if her family’s love for her grew exponentially once the value was verified.
Now curious, she took his advice and discovered the ring was valued at $4.8 million dollars!
Today, the ring is in a safe, and she returns to Sint Maarten every year on a cruise ship with her family. They always stop in to buy some jewelry from Jeff. As predicted, all the family members love her. And of course, they also love Jeff.
This story defines his character; kindness and humility, and he is the same in private life. A genuine epicurean and class act.
When I asked about his favorite restaurants on the island, he laughed and replied, “It is hard to say, there are so many good places here!
But if I had to choose three of them, I would say Le Cottage in Grand Case, Temptation in Cupecoy, and l’Astrolabe in Orient Bay.” I concurred these were excellent choices.
As we were sipping a glass of red wine to end our wonderful dinner, I asked him what he considered the most important aspect of a dining experience.
He looked me in the eyes and said, “The company. Sharing unforgettable moments and making good memories, that’s what important.
You don’t take anything with you when you will leave this earth, only what you bring into your heart during your life.”
That is how he is. Humble, respectful and grateful. That night, I had a dinner with a true gem.
DK GEMS 69A Frontstreet, Philipsburg Sint Maarten.
Phone Number: 718-878-7101
E-mail Address: [email protected]