This humble Sarasota native and a GIA graduate gemologist dishes on his accessible but masculine style and gives us the lowdown on the precious pieces inside his store.
WHO: Amir Chokr, 32, co-owner of Diamond Vault
WHAT I DO: Our family business was founded in 1978 by my father, Ali Chokr, and my mother, LaRue Chokr. Growing up in the store, my brothers and I were essentially professional glass cleaners by the age of 8. When I was 16, I started working full-time, shadowing my father, and working from the ground up. I soaked up everything while taking out the trash, cleaning the showcases and polishing jewelry.
Now, I manage the day-to-day operations and oversee our merchandising, diamond acquisition and custom design workflow. I’ve grown to know our clients since I was a teenager, and it’s been amazing to see them prosper and meet their extended families through the years. Gemologically, I’ve seen some incredible diamonds and gemstones and work directly with other diamond brokers, like my father, as well as polishers, gem labs and other industry contacts. Just this week I sorted and matched over 100 pairs of diamond earrings for our holiday season--sort of a 3-D jigsaw puzzle of complex quality and dimensions.
FAVORITE ASPECT ABOUT THE BUSINESS: I am drawn to creating bespoke pieces. Our clients know exactly what they want, and I work to source the quality of materials and lay out the approach to craftsmanship to ensure their jewelry matches their style, fits their collection and ultimately becomes a multi-generational heirloom.
BEST TIP: Don’t settle. Find exactly what you want – no matter the price. It’s a balance of size, quality and materials. Leave the hard work to me, but give me some time to get it all just right with sourcing, budget and craftsmanship. For example, many engaged couples find that their budgets are tight as they plan their weddings. I’ve recently begun suggesting they present plain metal bands to one another then put diamonds in them for an anniversary or special moment later. If I know this is what they’d like, I can structurally create the wedding band to accommodate the diamond setting in the future.
We don’t feel that fine jewelry is a trend. It’s a timeless and personal item that exists to be passed down to future generations, and it should exude your sense of style above all else.
FAVORITE ITEM IN THE STORE RIGHT NOW: My favorite item in the store would be the 5.01-carat sapphire and diamond ring. My brothers and I knew this sapphire was special a few years ago decided to pull it from its old setting and have an independent GIA gem lab confirm our speculation--that it was indeed an untreated natural sapphire (about 95 percent of sapphires are heat treated for their color, but this one was not). Together, we designed a new platinum mounting for the gem, and our team of jewelers handcrafted and set it in our on-site workshop.
MY STYLE: Honestly, I dress for how I feel each day. I guess you could say I’m an emotional dresser. Typically I’ll reach for dark jeans, a blazer, and a button-down, but other times I might go for a three-piece suit. In any case, I’d say my style is accessible, sophisticated and masculine.
HOW HAS YOUR STYLE EVOLVED? It’s definitely more refined than it used to be. As you get older, you have more confidence to dress how you want. You find your flair and decide how you wear it. That’s also because times have changed. At Diamond Vault, each person who works here has a unique sense of style, and our clients tend to gravitate to the person who suits them as well. I don’t think it’d be the same experience here if you walked in and found us all in the dark gray or black suits you’d expect of a fine jeweler. It’s all about character and style.
WHOSE STYLE INSPIRES YOU? When I was 16 or 17, a retired doctor and client used to visit quite regularly. He’d stop in for events, routine service or more often to simply say hello when he was in the area. He was a true gentleman and never looked disheveled--always put together so meticulously whether he was dressed up or down. Overall, I just admired the social grace and masculinity of his day-to-day ensembles.
FAVORITE DESIGNERS: I’m not a designer guy. I used to like HUGO Boss until the design approach and brand changed directions. I do gravitate to Zara suits because the materials are great and the fit is sleek and simple. Generally, if I see a look or certain elements that I like, I will use that inspiration and recreate the look based on items I find myself.
MY GO-TO ITEMS: Anything shark-related. I have shark socks, loafers, a lapel pin, necklace, bowtie, tie, shirt--you name it, I have it with in a shark theme. I also always wear a watch. I have a few in my collection that I wear based on my mood or what I’m doing that day.
FAVORITE ITEM I OWN: It would be the 18-karat gold alternating mariner and bridle-style links bracelet that I’m wearing. My dad saw four of them in a small store in north Florida and bought them all. My two brothers and I each received ours as a gift when we turned 18. It’s completely created by hand, and it’s really special to me. It’s something I would definitely fight for. One time, I lost it for two weeks and was completely disoriented the entire time. I ended up finding it under one of my rugs.
FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: I’ll typically wear dark jeans, a button-down shirt and Vans or something casual and comfortable on the feet. And I’ll of course wear my bracelet and a watch. Usually on weekends, I’ll add a couple beaded bracelets I’ve made--lava rock, wood and jade are my go-to.
Amir is wearing a suit by ZARA, shirt by Joseph A. Bank, a pocket square from Neiman Marcus, Florsheim shoes, socks found in Nashville shop, a Cartier watch, Diamond Vault ring, glasses by Ray Ban and a gifted bracelet.
A Florida native, Alicia King Robinson is the director of public relations at Sarasota-based ThreeSixOh Public Relations and the blogger behind New Version of You. Her love of fashion and eye for stylish living began at an early age. Meant to inspire, she explores fashion and the evolution and ever-changing versions of ourselves with style-inspired content.