When Sanjay Hirawat reflects on the success of his family business, he speaks with great reverence about his father, Dharam Chand Hirawat. It seems everyone knows his dad, who’s widely regarded as knowledgeable, honorable and true to his work, not only to individuals but to the community at large. Customers and vendors alike call him “Mr. Shefi.”
Pride in quality work runs in the family, and it has helped build Shefi into what it is today – one of the industry’s strongest sources, widely recognized for consistency in manufacturing and diamond quality. The company can meet price point needs at $49 or provide a $30,000 opera necklace for a retailer’s most special customer.
In India, the family business – which now has offices in Mumbai, Hong Kong and New York and covers everything from acquiring rough diamonds to delivering beautifully finished pieces – began early last century, its origins in diamond cutting. From the days of Sanjay’s grandfather and great-grandfather, family members have always been traders in the business.
“My father moved to Mumbai in 1963 and established his own office in 1965,” Sanjay says. “He started buying goods, and my grandfather would then sell them all over India.
“In 1974, my dad came to the United States and established the company in 1975, primarily as a loose diamond dealer to the country’s big jewelry manufacturers such as Harry Gordon and many other major manufacturers and retailers who are still around today. He was doing an extremely impressive business back in the day.
“He always worked with a lot of honor and integrity. He single-handedly made a great name for himself after years and years and years of working. This year is our 40th anniversary! We have maintained our values of honesty and integrity, and being true to our customers.
“My father still works in the business,” Sanjay adds. “He is 100 percent active. He works five days a week and goes to the shows in Las Vegas and New York.”
Transition to Manufacturing
During it’s first 25 years, the company – once one of the largest rough buyers in the secondary market in the United States – dealt primarily in loose diamonds, selling to virtually every major retailer and major manufacturer in the country. “Around the turn of this century, the next generation started building up the jewelry end of the business, although we’ve maintained dealing in loose diamonds as well,” Sanjay says.
The company – named after Sanjay’s sister Shefila – now has nine salespeople across the United States and about 50 employees overseas. “They work in CAD design, quality control, etc., and we manufacture in New York, China and India,” Sanjay says.
“We have salespeople on the road who advise retailers what to buy, what not to buy. We are financially capable, so we can offer retailers terms.” The company also participates in 15 trade shows throughout the year – three in Hong Kong and all the major shows in the United States.
During the past six months, Shefi has ramped up its marketing efforts. “We’ve been aggressive in social media, e-marketing, e-blasts – it’s something we’re doing more and more of,” Sanjay says. “We have people in India and one marketing person here in New York dedicated to doing social media marketing, Internet marketing and e-blast marketing.”
Print marketing is important as well, he says. “This past December, a retailer saw one of Shefi’s ads in a trade magazine. He needed a 12-ctw princess cut bracelet overnight. One call to Shefi, and he had it the next day. The customer was happy, the retailer was happy, and Shefi was happy to provide the retailer what he needed to thrill an important customer.”
The company’s new flyer program features Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Bridal, Black Friday and Christmas themes for 2015. Retailers may contact their Shefi sales rep or call the office at 800-76-SHEFI or 212-391-1482 for more flyer information – and Sanjay suggests asking the sales rep about Display Elements for the retailer’s basics.
Shefi’s inventory, with more than 10,000 pieces of stock year-round, includes diamond bracelets, anniversary bands, solitaires, stud earrings and pendants. All styles are available in 14-karat white and yellow gold and by special order in 14-karat rose gold, and 18-karat white, yellow and rose gold, along with platinum. A retailer who places an order before 6 p.m. will have it in hand the next day.
“A lot of our business is centered on bridal,” Sanjay adds. “Our CAD designers in India are able to work up designs in 24 to 48 hours and send the file over so we can produce the item in four or five working days after the customer gives us a call. We have an in-house assortment of loose diamonds that can be shipped overnight. We specialize in princess cuts, white diamonds, I1-plus-plus diamonds, from 0.7mm all the way up to 7 mm stones.” Polished diamonds of all types are offered in a full range of color and carat weights.
Shefi will be introducing two bridal collections at the JCK Las Vegas show May 29 – June 1. Both will feature displays created for each collection, signage and flyer support. Shefi suggests retailers schedule their appointments now for the JCK rollout of the new programs so they’ll be the first to offer the programs in their area.
Along with its classic offerings, the company targets certain jewelry pieces to individual markets. “We make a palmetto tree and moon design for South Carolina, and palm trees for Palm Springs,” Sanjay says. “For Louisiana we’ll do a line of fleur de lis pendants, starfish for coastal Florida, horseshoes for Indiana. We try to understand certain traits of different areas of the country and make products to fit the needs of that geographic market.”
Because Shefi has access to contacts all over the world, Sanjay says, “Retailers can call and say, ‘We need this, can you get it for us?’ and we can. We can because we’ve built up a good name. Our best asset is our name in the industry, whether it’s a $10 stone or a half-million-dollar stone. We are basically a debt-free company. We have resources and the name to fulfill and satisfy our customers’ needs.”