While history is carved in stone,
Heritage can still be molded

Mark Klein, Vice President at Julius Klein Diamonds in New York.

The New Generation is a WDC News Update series that tells the stories of up-and-coming diamond industry leaders, examining the role that they see for themselves, in the business and the diamond itself. Each article in the series is delivered in the person’s own voice.

The fifth article in the series features Mark Klein, Vice President at Julius Klein Diamonds in New York.

Despite being considered part of the “new generation,” I often find that the challenges I face are anything but new. As Vice President at Julius Klein Diamonds, I’m charged with overseeing a multi-generational legacy in the diamond industry, where I myself am right at the intersection of three distinct groups: Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. I’ve had to learn to relate to and communicate effectively with individuals from each of these generations.

And in today’s ever-evolving diamond industry landscape, I’ve also had the privilege of bridging the gap between traditional jewelers who embrace time-honored practices, and the new-age, tech-driven consumers who are shaping our future.

The diamond sector, like many other industries, has experienced significant transformation moving into the modern era. Innovations have undoubtedly propelled the trade forward, but they have also brought challenges—chief among them, how to preserve the timeless allure of diamonds while embracing modernization.

For me, the answer lies in striking a balance. It’s about accepting the “new science” of diamonds, be it through gemological discovery, technological advancement or consumer trends. This must be done while staying grounded in the foundations that have defined the gemstone and what made it so captivating for centuries.

My challenge isn’t about changing the essence of the diamond; it’s about evolving its message to resonate with the times.


A new link in the chain

In any family business, there’s an invaluable wealth of knowledge and tradition passed down through the generations. In my case, I’ve been fortunate to have had an accelerated education from the best—Julius Klein, my grandfather, and Martin, my father.

As a boy, my grandfather would have me scour the melee-room floor with nothing but a tweezer and tray. A small percentage of my discoveries would be mine to keep. I think this was his way of instilling in me the value and intense effort it takes to be a “gem hunter,” and the significance of treasuring even the smallest finds.

As I got older, my grandfather would hand me a stone and ask, “What do you think of this?” I would quickly respond trying to impress him with my knowledge of the 4 Cs, and, if I felt extra confident, I’d throw in a price as well. He would laugh and just ask, “…but do you like it?”

Mark Klein leading an interactive break-out session on diamonds at an AGS Conclave.

My grandfather was a firm believer in the maxim that “above all else, a diamond must be beautiful.” It’s the first impression that’s important…does it resonate with you? Does it speak to you? I still practice this mantra and ask myself those very questions with every stone I see.

I continue to learn much from my father, Martin, whose approach was a bit different from my grandfather’s. On my first official day entering into the family business, he handed me a loupe and said, “Go.” My response was, “Go where?” He replied with a grin, “That’s for you to figure out. The next loupe, you’re buying yourself.”

He allowed me to find my own place within the company and the trade, but always with guidance and oversight from a distance. It was kind of like being thrown into the deep end to learn how to swim. I had to ask the right questions rather than being spoon-fed knowledge. This was and is vital, as many career skills cannot be taught, but must be learned through experience.


Leaving my mark

Navigating a family business into its third generation is a complex journey, and expectations for continuity can feel overwhelming at times. However, I approach this challenge with enthusiasm. I don’t view it as a simple progression but as a chance to influence the heritage, growing in a way that speaks to the present. I embrace the opportunity to leave my “mark” on the industry while upholding the timeless traditions on which Julius Klein Diamonds was built.

One of my enduring beliefs is that collaboration lies at the heart of the diamond trade.

Historically, the industry has operated under a veil of privacy, emphasizing security and trust, which kept its circles very small and exclusive.

It’s an approach that had its merits, but it also had limitations. I see a bright future where collaboration becomes more inclusive, not only of people but also of ideas. By expanding our horizons, we can tap into a wealth of creativity and innovation that knows no bounds.

From left, Mark Klein, Flaviana Matata, Nancy Orem Lymen and Maddison Harvey hosting a Diamonds Do Good event in New York.

I envision a new era where we share ideas openly and work together to create new things that will be truly remarkable.

I am enthusiastic about the evolving industry and looking forward to contributing as an innovator. As Julius Klein Diamonds continues to advance, we look ahead to a promising future.


The thrill of the open road

Playing sports throughout my youth ignited my fascination with the science of sports medicine and the intricate workings of the human body. My affinity for puzzles, Lego and architectural design cultivated a deep appreciation for structural aesthetics, fueling my aspiration for a potential career in architecture.

These diverse passions converged in the world of diamonds, where I discovered a realm that melds science, geometry, and craftsmanship. Diamonds, like architectural masterpieces of nature, are a testament to precision and artistry, making them an irresistible calling for me. After attending my first auction previews and trade shows, I was hooked!

Over the past 12 years, I’ve experienced various facets of the industry, from working with renowned brands to immersing myself in the gem world. It has been a journey filled with challenges and blessings, offering me a unique vantage point. My experience and education in the diamond industry has allowed me to appreciate its intricacies while remaining deeply passionate about the world of diamonds.

Mark Klein, a keen amateur cyclist, crossing the finishing line after a Bike4Chai road race.  Julius Klein Diamonds is a sponsor of the race’s organizer, Chai Lifeline, which supports children with serious illnesses.

My other passion has been cycling. It’s been a cherished part of my life for about a decade now. The sense of freedom, the thrill of the open road, and the connection with nature that comes with each pedal stroke have always resonated deeply within me. It’s more than just a hobby; it’s a way of life.

It all started with Bike4Chai, a charitable organization committed to supporting children facing illness, which added a profound layer of meaning to my passion for cycling. It’s a privilege to be part of a community that rallies around a noble cause, using our shared love for cycling as a vehicle for change. This resonates with me on a personal level because I believe in the power of collective action to make a difference. I’ve been lucky to ride and raise money for many other organizations, such as The Next Ride, Friendship Circle and Nevut Lone Soldier Fund, to name a few.

I have a dream of one day hitting the road on a gemstone expedition, where I can ride from city to city discovering, trading, buying, and selling various diamonds and gemstones. Who knows, maybe one day this dream will become a reality. Until then, I’ll be at home on Long Island with my wonderful wife, three beautiful kids…and three bikes.

From the series