In a corner building on Fifth Avenue in New York City, a narrow staircase leads to a room with crown moldings, a possible double sided mirror, security cameras, and one sign.
“Attention Thieves: Please Carry ID So We Can Notify Next of Kin.”
At the Natural Sapphire Company, security is tight - and for good reason. Behind closed doors, Jorge Valdez is hard at work creating replicas of the center stone blue sapphire ring that will bind the Royal Couple, William and Kate, for happily ever after.
Thanks to Valdez and his team, you don't have to be a millionaire to get the wedding ring of this century--or at least something like it. Valdez can make replicas for somewhere between $1,000 and $100,000.
The Chilean has been in the diamond-cutting business for over 20 years; today, he is the man responsible for filling the hundreds of special orders that just keep piling in.
“It became very popular because it was Princess Diana’s ring,” Jorge said. “Now, the same ring will be passed down from mother to the new couple.”
“We have already probably manufactured around 1,000 rings and all special orders,” Valdez said. “That’s quite a lot.”
Even for $1,000 you can get a stone that looks like the one William will give to Kate.
“It’s not a small ring, it has diamonds around it, and it is a classically gorgeous ring,” he explained.
The real ring is worth around $150,000, he estimates, but ultimately Valdez believes, “It’s priceless.”
“We are starting to get more orders from Latin America lately,” he said.
Diamonds have been a part of Valdez’s life since he was a boy in a small town in Chile.
“I never expected to end up here in New York, making high end jewelry,” he said. “I take great pride in it.”
While he has designed elaborate rings for stars on the red carpet and is the master of the art of royal replica rings, Valdez admits he hopes his new-found fame will land him the special order he has been waiting for his whole life.
A ring for Cecilia Boloco, the former 1987 Ms. Universe and a top figure on Chilean television.
“I do want to design a ring for her, with a beautiful sapphire in the center and a very modern design, with diamonds around it,” he said. “I hope she gets my message and we get to make a ring for her.”
A good plan. Unless of course, Cecilia has already ordered one of his replicas.