|Black, Starr & Frost
341 Bayside Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Some of the exquisite rings in Black, Starr & Frost’s Silk Collection contain as many as 300 diamonds in a single band, yet the rings are delicately proportioned and smooth as silk to the touch. How is that possible? The diamonds aren’t set with the aid of four-power magnification that’s standard in the jewelry industry. Black, Starr & Frost’s jewelers, demonstrably among the world’s most highly skilled artisans, use 22-power magnification to place each gem. The resulting diamond-encrusted surface is so finely smooth that it inspired the collection’s name.
The Silk Collection is a small representation of the company’s astonishing achievements, yet a prime example of its exclusivity. There are only two Black, Starr & Frost jewelry stores in the world. One is a by-appointment-only salon in New York City, where the company began in 1810 (27 years before the famous Tiffany’s existed), establishing itself as the first jewelry store in America.
The other is a luxurious harbor-side salon in Newport Beach more like a magnificent private home than a retail jewelry store. It reflects the vision of Black, Starr & Frost’s owner, Alfredo J. Molina, an 11th generation jeweler whose family’s roots in the jewelry business go back to 17th century Spain.
“We have created a place so inviting it’s like walking into someone’s waterfront home,” says Molina, who has been in the jewelry business since he was a boy, and also owns a jewelry salon in Arizona. “My father always did business this way, offering a confidential setting in the style of being in someone’s residence.”
Molina opened the new 5,000 square-foot location this past April, relocating the store from the 900 square-foot space at South Coast Plaza it had occupied for nearly 20 years mostly under the ownership of a friend of Molina’s.
Molina bought the store in 2006 with the express goal of honoring his friend’s request to bring Black, Starr & Frost back to its original glory. The source of jewels for America’s most illustrious families including the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Guggenheims, and Carnegies, Black, Starr & Frost was the store that, in 1928, sold the famous 127.01-carat Portuguese Diamond to the infamous Peggy Hopkins Joyce. She was the inspiration for the character played by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” mentions Black, Starr & Frost in its lyrics.
After 30 years of friendship, Molina convinced fellow expert gemologist and jeweler Nelson Holdo to sign on as president of the Newport Beach Black, Starr & Frost salon. Already, Black, Starr & Frost has reestablished a reputation for acquiring the finest gems in the world, such as the Archduke Joseph Diamond. It recently sold an emerald and diamond necklace handcrafted from a suite of gemstones that took 26 years to assemble.
“We are lifestyle consultants,” Holdo says. “We are all about the total picture, guiding our clients toward jewelry that best suits their physical characteristics and personal lifestyles.”
Holdo and Molina believe in fulfilling their duty to the community: “Our organization supports over 200 charities through our vision of ‘Changing the world one jewel at a time,’” Molina says. “We believe every individual is a precious jewel. We are committed, and see it as our social responsibility, to ensure that they become brilliant. The difference between water and steam is one degree of separation. Steam can move locomotives and cut through rock. We focus on that one degree, in our jewelry and in our charity.”