A South Florida jewelry business embodies the American dream (includes video story)

Jewelry stores line the entire first floor of downtown Miami’s Seybold Building from front to back. Every 20 feet of the glittering spectacle obstructed by approximately 6 feet, 2 inches of the kind of black uniforms and security belts rarely ever seen outside of Hollywood.

There’s also a series of elevators and a layer of curiosity that can bring any person to wonder what’s on the other nine floors above. 

The building today, which includes 166,000 square feet, is considered to be among the largest diamond and jewelry distributors in the country. The company website makes the claim that it is the second largest in the nation.

It was built in 1913, and was named after its first owner, a baker named John Seybold. It became home to attorneys and business owners alike. By 1960, jewelers from across the world started to move in. 

Javier Sarmiento is the owner of Sarmiento Jewelers, one of 300 or so located in the building. Jewelry was the family business when he emigrated from Ecuador 27 years ago. Now his office is on the Seybold’s highest floor.

“It’s a passion,” he said.

Giovanni Leon is the proud owner of the two-year-old Gio’s Jewelry. Once Sarmiento’s right-hand man, Leon now runs his own operation from five floors below. 

“People think it’s guaranteed money, but there are plenty of unsuccessful jewelers here,” he said. “Javier is still to this day my best friend,” he said. “He sends clients to me all the time.”

Aslam Bakshi is owner of Diamond Images USA. He attributes his own success to decades of experience in the jewelry industry.

“I didn’t have a dollar in this office when I first started,” he said. “I am from India originally. We started from zero dollars and we worked hard. So I know how it is to not have money, and I know how to take care of other people.”

His motivation, he says, is from the inside.

“You just cannot get up one day and say i want to diamonds tomorrow,” he says. “You need to appreciate what you can do… and it has to come from inside.”

Enzo Canete is a Sophomore Digital Broadcast Journalism Major, interested in Science Communication with a focus in highlighting the experiences of everyday people. He is currently working on documentaries within the Latin American community in South Florida, with topics ranging from climate change to food insecurity.