MERRILLVILLE | For 40 years, jewelry industry veteran Tom Moriarty has been providing customers a direct link to diamonds through his twice-a-year trips to Antwerp, Belgium.
“Antwerp is a major marketing center for diamonds. For 40 years, I have been buying from the best cutters and finest dealers in the world – 70 percent of the world’s diamonds go through Antwerp,” said Moriarty, president and owner of AaLand Diamond Jewelers. “You have to go to the source. If you don’t, you are just another middle man.”
“It’s an opportunity to represent clients during these trips,” said Cullen Wulf, junior associate at AaLand (pronounced A-Land). “We are their connection to the world.”
Moriarty uses these trips to Antwerp and precious gem centers around the world to not only select stones based on clients’ specifications but also to buy stock for the store.
“We are moving more toward the retail side with diamond and precious gemstone custom-made jewelry,” Moriarty said. “We have our first retail store in Merrillville. We buy stones direct and do the design work ourselves. We sit down with the customers and work with their ideas.
“We work with the possible. We may start with the impossible in mind but we get back to the possible. With more than 40 years of experience, I can easily do that for the customer,” he said.
Moriarty launched his career working at his brother-in-law’s jewelry store and as a representative for a diamond dealer out of Chicago. He moved into buying and selling on his own throughout the Midwest and started AaLand Diamond Co. in 1971.
The business originally focused on the manufacturing and wholesale sides of the industry and continues today with wholesale as well as retail through the Merrillville showroom.
“It’s fun to create (jewelry) and you never have anyone leaving who isn’t smiling,” Moriarty said. “It allows me to travel around the world and I have been to every continent and most countries. The people you meet in the jewelry industry are some of the most fascinating and interesting people that you could ever imagine.
“I love precious stones. I love diamonds. There is nothing more exciting to me than going on a buying trip," he said. "We create beautiful jewelry that someone will really appreciate.”
Down the road, Moriarty is looking to Wulf to help carry on the traditions established at AaLand.
“I am grooming Cullen to take over,” Moriarty said. “He is my right hand … hopefully he will become both my hands.”
While Moriarty is working toward retirement, Wulf will be building on the more recently established retail roots as well as continuing to grow and develop AaLand in the future.
“I started with Tom as a business student at Valparaiso University. It was a unique opportunity. I come from a family of business owners and I was looking for an internship that I could really sink my teeth into,” Wulf said. “... This is something where you get to know the client base and get to know them as friends. You are not only working with a client, but you are also working with a friend. That’s how you grow a business," he said. "There’s no better advertising than word of mouth.”