Usually, my business profiles are inciteful and engaging, but rather straightforward. I love sitting down with local business owners to hear about their stories, passions and industry. But I’ve never experienced the intellectual and spiritual enlightenment that I received from Blue Diamond owner Altaf Amlani.
Jewelry stores are notoriously stunning, but Blue Diamond’s sparkle lies in its unlikely amalgamation of elegance and unpretentiousness. It’s small, pristine and literally glitters. Altaf’s associate Debbie greeted me with a drink offering and a slew of kind words for her boss. She’s worked with Altaf for eight years and assures me, more than once, that he’s the most honest man she knows.
I was intrigued by her ardor; what made him so honest? So a few minutes later, as I sat with Altaf in his office, I simply asked – what makes you different? He answered with eyes closed, slowly and deliberately outlining not his business strategy but rather his philosophy. He aligns his mind throughout the day, centering his spirit and focusing on his truth. He steps outside his body and observes the world on a metaphysical level. Every word he uttered was intelligent, carefully chosen and insightful. I wish I had 2000 words to tell you everything we talked about; I feel like I happened upon a life guru in the back office of a Manhattan Beach jewelry store.
The overarching theme of Altaf’s message and mission is connection. Relationship building, establishing trust, showing love – what he practices in life bleeds effortlessly into his business conduct. Customers aren’t preyed upon or pushed to a sale. Buying jewelry from Blue Diamond is experiential, both in atmosphere and execution. “There a lot of business owners who have a mission, but the business is first,” he says. “For me, I have a mission, and I happen to own a business. The goal is not to make a sale. My question isn’t, ‘Did you buy?’ but ‘How did you feel while you were here?'”
When buying at Blue Diamond, Altaf has you interact and vibe with the stones. He lays them out and has you choose, without any information, which gem is your favorite. Doesn’t matter to him if it’s the least or most expensive. He wants your vibrations to mingle, for you to feel like the gem is your favorite without being told that it should be. I love that – I want that.
It may sound unconventional, but it works. The store on 10th and Manhattan Ave is Altaf’s third. Altaf’s business is thriving, and it’s not because he’s pushing sales. “Of course, I want transactions,” he says.
“But in the interaction, I’m indifferent to the outcome. I’m more committed to the nature and quality of the interaction. I want [customers] to feel like they just met a good friend for tea at an afternoon cafe.”
I felt just that way. So much so that we spent 50 minutes before we talked about store details. Altaf is a third-generation jeweler with 30 years of experience. At Blue Diamond, he reimagines old jewelry to craft new pieces. He repairs broken items, buys estate jewelry, and creates new custom pieces. With nearly perfect ratings at all three locations (two 5-Stars and a 4.7), Altaf’s business style doesn’t just work. It inspires.
I left invigorated and enlightened. It didn’t even phase me that I overstayed my meter by 30 minutes and was sure of a ticket. I wrote off the possibility as worth it – the conversation with Altaf was priceless.
I didn’t get a ticket. I think it was the universe congratulating me for valuing interaction over outcome. And for that, I owe Altaf.