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The Boss of Bling

Born a jeweler’s son, Moti Ferder always knew he’d spend his life in the company of diamonds.

Moti Ferder is a master of making memories that dazzle.

Moti Ferder knew at age 3 that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into the diamond business. He learned about the industry from the ground up, watching his dad sort diamonds each night, visiting mines, training as a diamond cutter. For the past three decades, the Israeli-born master gemologist has been president and design director of Lugano Diamonds, which eight years ago opened a salon in Newport Center. And Lugano just opened a second salon at the Montage Laguna Beach. Riviera sat down with Ferder to find out more about the man behind the brand.

You served in the Israeli Army. What effect did that experience have on your life?
It had the biggest effect out of everything I’ve ever done. I learned the process of accountability—I oversaw 400 soldiers when I was 19. Everybody serves together. It gives you a humility and a bond that you can’t acquire somewhere else. And I learned the follow-through needed to get things done. That’s a huge lesson to carry through life.

Tell us about your design philosophy.
It all starts with the stone, then finding a pretty design—something that enhances the stone—and envisioning who the end-customer is going to be. At the end of the day, you have to translate the design to a customer who is going to like it.

Why did you choose Newport for your first salon?
It’s a great place to raise a family. No traffic, beautiful weather, no crime. We moved here eight years ago, and we quickly felt very much at home.

You’ve said your salon feels a lot like your home, not a retail establishment.
The whole philosophy at Lugano is to create a different environment. We believe that someone who is buying something for a milestone in life deserves an experience worthy of that occasion. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have gone through the process of buying a ring, and in a lot of cases, it was not a great memory for them. I wanted to change that.

How did you end up at the Montage?
We share the same philosophy of creating an experience—it’s not just a hotel room, and it’s not just jewelry.

What makes you happy?
Being creative. That’s what makes me the happiest in everything I do—being creative in a piece of jewelry that I make or in a new marketing strategy. That’s the thrill of coming to work every day.

Do you give your wife jewelry on special occasions?
I do. It’s all about the memory. She will always remember what she got for our 10th anniversary or what she got for her 40th birthday. Our kids are going to remember, too, and it will have meaning for them. You can’t do that with a pair of shoes.