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The Short Version: Olivia Landau is a fourth-generation diamond expert who co-founded The Clear Cut to help couples make the first significant purchase of their relationship. Soon-to-be married couples also receive an education on engagement rings and other fine jewelry as part of The Clear Cut design process. The team connects customers with experienced gemologists to create the custom pieces of their dreams, complete with certification from the Gemological Institute of America.
Olivia Landau comes from a long line of diamond experts — four generations, to be exact.
Her father was born in Antwerp, Belgium, which was once the diamond-cutting capital of the world. Her parents started an antique jewelry business, so Olivia grew up in the industry. However, she wasn’t sure she was interested in learning the trade of gemology.
“I never thought I would go into the jewelry or diamond business just because it was changing a lot. They encouraged me not to go into it,” she said.
But when she graduated from New York University, she discovered that her original career path wasn’t what she wanted. Since she had always been interested in diamonds and jewelry, she decided to head to the Gemological Institute of America — the foremost authority in diamond grading — to continue her education.
“That’s when I fell in love with diamonds and gemstones,” Olivia said. “I think it was really in my blood all along.”
That decision led her on the path to co-founding The Clear Cut, a business that takes a customized approach to diamond jewelry design.
While she was at the GIA for her six-month gemology program, Olivia met her future husband, Kyle. Olivia said he approached the diamond industry from a different viewpoint. He founded a fair trade diamond mine in Sierra Leone, and his investors sent him to the GIA to learn more about diamonds.
Upon graduation, he returned to Africa as Olivia started her career on the engagement jewelry floor of Tiffany & Co.
She found her calling in helping couples find the perfect bridal and engagement jewelry to take their relationships to the next level. She brought that passion and expertise to The Clear Cut and now connects customers with gemologists to create custom pieces that last a lifetime.
Kyle returned to the United States when the Ebola pandemic struck Africa. While in business school at Columbia University, his classmates started to approach him and Olivia with questions about diamonds.
“From working with our friends, I realized that most people didn’t know the first thing about buying a diamond,” Olivia said.
In January 2016, she started The Clear Cut as a blog with tips and advice for those who wanted to learn about buying a diamond. Then, Olivia began to create her own custom designs and posted the finished rings on Instagram. That’s when the business took off.
“People were DMing, asking for their rings. It was a hobby and turned into a side hustle,” Olivia said. “At one point, I just couldn’t keep up with the demand for The Clear Cut since I was a gemologist elsewhere.”
She and Kyle transitioned to running The Clear Cut full-time, offering the bespoke engagement rings for which they’re now well known. Their unique approach to jewelry has helped hundreds of people start the next phase of their relationship.
“I think it’s because a lot of people nowadays know exactly what they’re looking for, but it’s so hard to find something custom-made for a reasonable price point in their hometown,” she said. “We filled that void by helping our clients pick out their rings and giving them expert advice.”
Along with its custom rings, the business has expanded to offer a line of everyday jewelry. The Clear Cut Collection includes bracelets, necklaces, anniversary bands, and earrings for purchase on the jeweler’s website.
Olivia said that working with The Clear Cut is much different than walking into a retail store since it doesn’t carry an inventory of rings. Each piece is truly a custom work of art.
The process starts with each customer having a 10- to 30-minute phone consultation with one of the company’s gemologists. They can share a general idea of what they’re looking for, as well as their price point, on the call. It’s also an opportunity to have an expert answer any of their questions.
Unlike in the past, when one partner in a relationship picked out the ring as a surprise, more couples today work together on the decision.
Once customers answer all of the questions, the gemologist understands their priorities, and the team will hand-pick a selection of loose diamonds. They also prescan and evaluate all the diamonds in person.
“We ensure that each diamond is of the quality we stand behind and would feel comfortable wearing on our hands, as well,” she said. “It takes about a week to put together the initial selection.”
Next, the team sends a video of each diamond with a full description and price. Each selection is available for a week without a deposit. Customers can provide feedback and discuss if they want to see additional options.
“We work closely with each client every step of the way to narrow it down and find the perfect one,” Olivia said.
The Clear Cut requires a third of the diamond’s cost as a deposit before beginning the design of the ring. Each ring is unique, and the finished product can take between three to five weeks to complete.
Along with a custom diamond ring, customers also receive a GIA certification and an estimate for retail insurance so they can feel confident in their online purchase.
Thanks to The Clear Cut’s reputation, people feel comfortable making such a big purchase online during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is especially true for people who lack retail options in their town.
“It’s so important and personal that they do want to put their stamp on it. They can work, even if not in person, closely with an expert gemologist,” Olivia said. “Salespeople won’t know as much as some of our followers on social media. It’s a wealth of information and customer service to help pick something every step of the way.”
Most customers of The Clear Cut live in the United States, although many couples looking to make their relationships permanent live in the UK, Australia, and Canada.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Clear Cut made about 70% of its sales remotely, but now, nearly 95% of customers purchase their jewelry online.That’s why the team said it plans to make the remote process even more streamlined and user-friendly in the coming months.
Whether online or in-person, Olivia said that helping people create the ring of their dreams is gratifying work.
“That’s the best part of the job and why we take it so seriously. It is one of the most significant financial purchases a couple will make, and such a big part of their personal lives,” Olivia said. “We work on each ring like we’re working on our best friend’s ring — with that kind of care and responsibility.”