JAY Z’s five-kilo Cuban link has caused a true chain reaction. Spotted around his neck during recent appearances, the 11-pound gold chain has left many asking, “Who made it?” The five-kilo was the brainchild of none other than Gabriel “The Jeweler” Jacobs and his Rafaello & Company Jewelers. Established in 2009, Rafaello & Co has been supplying high-end, custom pieces to a clientele that includes musicians, athletes, and celebrities such as Diddy and Carmelo Anthony. Their pieces have been seen on album covers, in movies and at NBA press conferences. Life+Times had the chance to ask Gabriel about his five-kilo creation, Nicki Minaj’s “engagement” ring, and Jacob The Jeweler.
Life + Times: DJ Khaled used a Rafaello & Co ring to propose to Nicki Minaj. Did you know that’s what the ring was for? Did he say “Hey, Gabriel I’m proposing to Nicki Minaj, I need a ring”?
Gabriel Jacobs: What happened was he called me asking for a 10-carat ring. I had no idea what he needed it for and I didn’t bother asking him. Next day he’s on New York Post’s Page Six and I see the 10-carat ring. I was like “Wow he’s fucking crazy,” but the heart wants what it wants. I can’t blame the guy.
L+T: The five-kilo Cuban link. How did JAY Z get the first one?
GJ: Correction, it’s not the first one. It’s the only one! I made it just to have it in stock, although I did have Jay in mind when making it. I took a picture and sent it to him. He loved it. I am honored that he possesses one of my ultimate creations, because he’s the perfect fit for such an exclusive piece.
L+T: Birdman’s 900 carat red AGET stone piece is crazy. Did he come to you with that concept?
GJ: No, he didn’t come to me with that idea. I designed it from scratch. I explained to him what the red AGET symbolizes, which is power, prevention from the evil eye, and of course, money. So, just like the five-kilo for Jay, this was the perfect fit for Baby.
L+T: What is the favorite piece that you’ve created?
GJ: I love all my creations. I put serious thought and dedication and I take much pride in everything I do, but my latest favorite is the Andy Warhol, first edition, Muhammad Ali painting that I had the opportunity to showcase for one of my dearest friends, the legendary Swizz Beatz, the Monster.
L+T: You have hats and T-shirts coming. Do you have a full clothing line coming?
GJ: It’s a full clothing line and it’s coming in 2014. It will have everything from baby clothes to bikinis, to XXXL sizes for the big boys and girls to stuff for the elderly. There’s also the Rafaello footwear. Jordan better watch out. I’m coming! [laughs]
L+T: How has Rafaello & Co been able to separate itself from all the other celebrity jewelers?
GJ: For starters, my slogan is “Dare to be different.” I declared the kilo wars with the Cuban link chains and my collection, Gabriel’s Angels and the Blackout collection. I have respect for everyone. I respect everyone’s hustle, but the customer service I provide and the lengths I’m willing to go for my clients is unmatched.
L+T: What’s the best advice you’d give someone looking to get into the jewelry business?
GJ: Don’t get into the jewelry business… [laughs]
L+T: Jacob The Jeweler sort of set the standard for how to dominate the jewelry game. Do you think he opened the door for you and others to establish themselves as premier jewelers?
GJ: He didn’t open the doors for me, however I do have respect for him, and what he did.
L+T: What has been the craziest request you’ve gotten?
GJ: Oh man, I get crazy requests all the time, but this recent one was a gold cast of a new born baby sculpted in gold. Another request I get all the time is for a piece to be made out of silver dipped in gold. I don’t do that. That’s not my level of work.