I was born and raised in Oceanside, New York where my childhood was far from perfect. I grew up with my mother and father until the age of 10 when they got divorced. My mother moved to Florida and my father stayed with me in our house in Oceanside. Soon after the divorce my soon-to-be Stepmother and her two kids moved into our house, which was not an easy transition. While I enjoyed high school and made a lot of friends, things at home weren’t as enjoyable. I watched my friends go on family vacations while I stayed home and worked on the weekends.
From the age of 15, I worked part-time at a local fashion boutique, ENVY. I was never an “A” student and I absolutely hated math. I never knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to be successful. Watching my Dad work 2 jobs in construction gave me a sense of hard-work ethic. While he always worked hard to support his family, I knew I wanted a better life for myself. I did not want to make the same mistakes as my parents did. By the time I was 18, I had graduated Oceanside High School and I decided to move out on my own and enroll at Nassau Community College. Since neither of my parents could afford to help me with college, I needed a full-time job to pay for tuition. Nicole’s mom got me a full-time job at a fashion jewelry store in the Roosevelt Field Mall, Pandora. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was the start of my passion and my journey into the jewelry industry.
I started as a Sales Professional, soon after I was promoted to Assistant Manager. By the age of 19, I was managing 40 employees, which felt pretty surreal. It was one of the first times I felt smart without having the stereotypical college education that many of my friends were getting. I was learning how to run a business, true work ethic, all while maintaining a lot of responsibility.
After 3 years at Pandora, my curiosity peaked and I wanted to understand more about fine jewelry. I left Pandora and got a job as a Sales Professional at a local “Mom & Pop” jewelry store in Merrick, Berne Jewelers. Gary, the owner, taught me the in’s and out’s of the industry and answered all of my questions. I remember sitting there and asking him so many questions like, “What are the 4 C’s?” or “How was this made?” and gaining so much interest. Gary watched me become great at selling because I had a skill for knowing what customers wanted and valued. I was doing this because I loved it. I remember asking him after 2 years if I should go to G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) and he said “Absolutely!”. At the time I could only afford the diamond portion of the course, I enrolled online and started saving for the colored stone portion, which was not offered online. I stopped going to Nassau Community College and decided that pursuing credentials in the jewelry industry made more sense for me both financially and for my career. I passed the diamond portion of the course and after my third year at Berne, I left and got a job in the Americana Manhasset selling high-end merchandise at London Jewelers. I wanted to challenge myself and grow in a larger fine jewelry store in hopes to gain more knowledge, experience and to work my way up there.
They started me out in their Engagement and Diamond Salon, where I was selling engagement rings. I was really good at it. They had about five girls selling engagement rings, and by the third month, I had beat all of their sales quotas, becoming the best in the shop. But I always had in the back of my mind that I had to complete my Gemologist degree if anyone was going to take me seriously in the industry. Over my time in London, I was challenging myself to become a stronger sales person, eventually selling ultra-high-end pieces. I knew I had a talent, because if I could convince someone to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars without having my Gemologist degree, I wasn’t even at my maximum potential.
After 3 years of saving, I took a leave of absence from London and went to G.I.A. full-time for a 5-month course. At G.I.A., I learned about colored stones, how they were formed in the earth, where they came from, how they were treated and how to identify them. I was mind blown and in love. I would wake up at 6am every day, get on a train and be in my seat by 8am (3 absences and you were out of the program!). I challenged myself every single day, reading 60-70 pages a night to pass the exams and truly learn about this field.
I finished at the top of my class with one other girl. We were the most skilled at identifying natural to synthetic to treated stores. In order to pass the exam, you needed to identify 20 random stones, with zero mistakes. I was so proud of myself when I passed, because I proved to myself that I could overcome anything and I had the foundation set to be successful.
One day soon after graduation, while Nicole was living in New York City, I remember going to her apartment. We were on her rooftop laying by the pool, both of us complaining how sick and tired we were about making money for other people. From that day forward, we both wanted to own and operate our own company. We knew we were both skilled in different areas, smart, and driven to work hard. Once I was back at London from my leave of absence, I started to realize I couldn’t do it for much longer. I had more to offer than this. I was selling multiple pieces for hundreds of thousands of dollars every month without commission, without a reasonable bonus. I wanted to be able to service my clients my own way, I wanted to charge them fair and reasonable prices and I wanted to provide them the education and transparency that they deserved. I had the skill sets, the education, and the right partner to do this on my own. In April of 2018, I officially left London Jewelers to build BRIAN & NICK Private Jewelers with Nicole.