This business is based in cowboy boots, shiny black cowboy boots to be specific. These boots have housed a jeweler by the name of Philip Weisner for decades. He pairs them with scuffed blue jeans juxtaposed against a smart Alexander West shirt and a complimentary tie. This is your next door neighbor with a hobby turned into expertise.
He was once known for fitting all of his merchandise inside his boots. Today, his store on 5th Avenue has enough space that he only needs to fit his feet in his boots. Although, he says, “Some people still ask me if I keep stuff in my boots.” His boots began their journey in the diamond dealers club and eventually occupied a small booth, where they endured plenty of scuffs from the hustling nature of selling from a booth.
It’s hard to know if Philip started out with a cowboy mentality or if purchasing the boots enabled him to develop such a mindset. A cowboy outlook implies resolve, persistence, no nonsense and loyalty. Channeling that energy enabled him to eventually move into a new store around the corner on 5th Avenue, allowing Philip to stand out against competition.
Philip is quick to point out that, his business has “always stood out because we are not just delivering something that’s already there; we are making all of our own pieces and making whatever it is that the customer dreams of.” At Kestenbaum & Weisner, it is common for a customer to bring in multiple ideas from several pieces that Philip will put together to make one cohesive piece. “I can sit there and listen to someone and ask them the right questions and get the feel for what it is they want the piece of jewelry to say that fits their personality. I’m happy to say after 33 years of doing this, I haven’t missed – doesn’t mean that I won’t, but I haven’t missed yet,” he says.
Not only does Philip create new designs that a customer wishes for, but he often re-cuts old or broken diamonds that customers bring in, ones that fit the technology of 100 years ago, but that can no longer compete with the brilliance of modern-cut diamonds. He is able to have them refaceted with the technology of today and transform them into splendid, sparkling stones.
There is even a cutting bench in the back of the store that Philip has used to demonstrate diamond cutting to those who are interested. “Cutting diamonds is truly a learned skill. You can give any guy a torch, but it doesn’t make him a jeweler,” he says, his feet planted firmly in his shiny black cowboy boots as he fiddles with a wax model of a ring.
“My business is all about the family jeweler who happens to be on 5th Avenue.”
There was a time when everybody knew everybody’s business, and you always knew the store owner. Today, most people don’t know the owner – it’s mostly major corporations. “I’m always here. If the store’s open, I’m here,” he says. Philip dislikes calling people customers because they become friends. “They started as someone who just walked in and needed a piece of jewelry and yet we’re friends, and that’s what makes it kind of fun- that’s why we stand out,” he says. Philip is as loyal to his customers as he is to his cowboy boots.