David Gotlib: This Antwerp Diamantaire Is Also A Cufflinks Connoisseur
Although he’s a third generation diamond dealer and President of the Antwerp Diamond Bourse, Antwerp-based David Gotlib is also the creative mind behind a stylistically diverse; eponymous cufflinks brand. Encompassing six different collections entitled Life Is Beautiful, Dare To Be Bold, Prado Presentation, Gold Fever, Logos of Life, and Oh My Game, the David Gotlib brand is carried in 13 different U.S luxury boutiques, including Charles Krypell in Greenvale, New York, A. Marek Fine Jewelry in Oak Brook, Illinois and Jay Feder in Boca Raton, Florida. Gotlib’s creations are also on offer in the rarefied realms of Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon and Monaco’s La Joaillerie Fairmont, as well as in various upmarket Belgian boutiques.
While many Gotlib designs feature white, yellow, brown and black diamonds, others shimmer with rubies, sapphires, moonstone, onyx and even pearls. (While every piece in his six collections is classic and therefore ageless, it’s intriguing to see how many of Gotlib’s designs are unisex in style and allure.) A lifelong lover of design, diamonds, architecture and the applied arts, Gotlib drew inspiration for his first cufflink collection in 2014, a few months after his beloved grandfather passed away.
Yet as Gotlib and his family mourned the death of their patriarch, they were also celebrating the forthcoming 13th birthday of Gotlib’s oldest son by planning his bar mitzva, an event that Gotlib intended to be as “unique and beautiful” as he and the family could make it. A few days before the celebration, Gotlib recalls, “My grandmother called me, saying that she wanted me to wear something that had belonged to my grandfather during the event.” This was an emotional moment for him as he had been very close to his grandfather. “During his youth,” Gotlib explains, “my grandfather spent over three years in Nazi death camps. When he returned to Antwerp, he decided to look forward and rebuild his life from scratch without complaining. This drive and optimism,” he continues, “is what characterized my grandfather up until his very last day, and these are qualities that I deeply admired then and now.”
Assuming that she wanted him to wear one of his late grandfather’s ties, Gotlib dutifully went to visit his grandmother only to be presented with a small box. Inside lay a pair of elegant, 18-karat golden cufflinks that he recognized as having belonged to his grandfather. The sight of these precious jewels from the past triggered equally precious memories from thirty-odd years ago. “My parents and I were in Zermatt, Switzerland,” Gotlib recalls, “and we were going from shop to shop, looking for a special present for my grandfather, who was turning 60 that year. They needed to find the appropriate gift that would honor this incredibly strong man.”
As Gotlib relates, “I remembered the excitement of my parents once they had realized that these were the perfect gift, and more important, I remember how my grandfather wore those cufflinks so well, with so much appreciation for these special pieces.” Moved by memories and his grandmother’s thoughtfulness, Gotlib also remembers feeling pleasant surprise. “I was amazed to see how the cufflinks looked as beautiful in 2014 as the day my parents had bought them.”
Communing aesthetically and emotionally with his grandfather’s cufflinks, Gotlib realized that, “I had finally found how I could combine my love of diamonds with my creativity and love of design. Since my first collection came to life a few years ago,” he reflects, “I think I’ve worn them every day. In my personal collection, I have a little over 30 pairs of cufflinks. Each one of them tells its own story, like most pieces of jewelry should.”
Given his status as a diamond professional, it makes perfect sense that all David Gotlib cufflinks are created with the best quality diamonds. “We spare no effort in this aspect. Before we start working with the diamonds,” he explains, “they are all sent to the IGI laboratory here in Antwerp. They are first screened and verified to be 100% natural diamonds. Once this is established, the lab will confirm that the color used is ‘collection white’, meaning that they are of a high white quality.” The same procedure is followed to ascertain clarity, so as to provide assurance that there are only VS and VVS clarity diamonds in the cufflinks. After the jewels are fabricated, Gotlib notes, “We send the pieces back to the lab to confirm that the diamonds of this quality are indeed present in the cuff links and the Lab then issues a certificate verifying that fact.”
Gotlib admits that when he started his eponymous cuff link company, “There was no clear line for a collection and certainly not six! I was just looking at each model as something unique, and in a way, that is still true today. I was looking for inspiration then,” he continues, “and basically everything I liked got transformed into a unique piece. When the number of cufflink designs really began to grow, I divided them up into collections. I started with three collections and as I continued to create new designs, the collections expanded, too. (As of September 2021, there are 53 cufflink designs on offer from David Gotlib.)
As regards designing his collections, it’s crystal clear that Gotlib relishes every phase of the process. “Each cufflink design mainly starts with an idea and a simple sketch, and I work with two designers who are amazing in understanding how to take this idea and create a stunning piece. For the moment, we work with a team of seven highly skilled artisans to create the pieces.” His collection is a continuous creative work in progress, and according to Gotlib, he studies his inventory every day with a critical eye. “I try to make it more beautiful. I ask myself, ‘Should I adapt a collection, remove a model, change a piece?’”
While the Logos of Life collection glitters with philosophical symbols such as diamond Peace signs, Yin and Yang symbols plus talismanic Celtic knots, there are also some charming evil eye and hand of Fatima, a.k.a. Hamsa, cufflinks for those wanting to accessorize with some traditional good luck, as well as elegance. With its soccer, baseball, football and tennis-themed cufflinks, Oh My Game embodies sports lovers refined designs that will literally up their wrist game. Featuring lightning bolts, diamond-studded ruby lips, skulls and other statement-making symbols, Dare to Be Bold offers an array of designs that will appeal to all genders. Glittering with diamonds and comprised of classically sculpted designs that are textured in various finishes, Gold Fever encapsulates how and why gold cufflinks can be some of the most versatile, wearable and enjoyable accessories in anyone’s jewelry box.
While Gotlib’s "Life is Beautiful Collection" is alive with super-vibrant designs inspired by living creatures such as the Ladybird, Blue bird, Feathery Charm and Pacific Sea Star cuff links, this collection seems geared as much towards women as it is towards men. Without a doubt, the most eye-catching design in the Life is Beautiful collection is the intricately detailed “Golden Elephant” cufflinks. This duo of artistic and realistic elephant heads is set with F/G, IF and VVS diamonds, plus yellow diamonds. These blazingly brilliant jewels retail for $40,000, and as Gotlib relates, “It is such a challenge to set so many beautiful stones when you have limited space. This piece is still waiting for the right buyer, and I can only hope it will be someone who loves and has an eye for detail.”
Gotlib relates that his love of various styles of applied art and architecture is the main drive behind the Prado Presentation collection, adding that, “I really believe that some of my designs will find their way to women as well as to men.” Something that he has realized since he started making jewelry is that, “Women have always better understood, long before men did, the philosophy of fine jewelry, how just one single piece can elevate an already perfect look even higher. Women definitely have the advantage over men when it comes to appreciating the fine details.” In recent years, however, judging from the red carpet and everyday life, Gotlib ventures that, “More and more men are embracing what I call the ‘finishing touch’ and are spending more attention on creating their own individual look, including fine jewelry.”
To expand his brand, Gotlib is moving his atelier to a new facility in order to accommodate more artisans. “I am planning a small selection of exclusive pairs of cufflinks to debut in 2022,” he promises. These, he says, will be even more exclusive than the ones that currently animate his six collections. “I truly appreciate every person who wears my cufflinks,” Gotlib says. Whether they are adding some artistry to their ZOOM wardrobes, celebrating a special occasion or simply bejeweling their lives, whomever wears David Gotlib is styling themselves with that ‘finishing touch’ that only his 18-karat gold, diamond and gemstone cufflinks can bestow.