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Thursday, April 2, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Dalyah Duek-Flaks, Owner/Designer of Dalyah

In 2007, Dalyah Duek-Flaks relocated from South Africa to New York with her husband and two children. For 10 years prior, she worked for Protea Diamonds in Johannesburg, the parent company of the Dalyah store. Protea Diamonds is a family run business headed by Dalyah's father, Moshe Duek. The company has been in operation for 30 years and has established itself as one of the largest private international diamond companies, with several offices around the world. Protea Diamonds deals in rough and polished diamonds, finished jewelry and other gemstones. Dalyah launched and managed the wholesale jewelry division of the company, which supplies the majority of leading jewelry stores throughout the country. She has always had a strong mind for business and is passionate about the jewelry industry – Dalyah graduated from The University of South Africa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Psychology & History, in addition a post-graduate degree in Marketing and Advertising. She advanced into the diamond industry after a few years as a qualified modern dance teacher and personal trainer. Dalyah's great passion coupled with Protea Diamond's prominence in the field led to the concept and development of Dalyah, opening the first retail store in New York in March 2009 which ALL Whom You Know readers should pay a visit! Dalyah designs are simply stunning!

Best known for her expertise in the South African diamond industry and unique designs, Dalyah, along with Protea Diamonds, fashioned the idea for Dalyah as the first New York City retail venture of Protea Diamonds. Dalyah provides customers with unique designs using diamonds directly from the source and ensures the utmost quality of each piece of jewelry, at a great value. Customers are able to identify the history of the stone they are buying, with the comfort of knowing that it is conflict-free. Dalyah not only provides customers with already beautifully designed pieces, but also the option of customizing a piece of jewelry such as an engagement ring, by selecting the stone, setting. Dalyah offers chic designs, ranging from traditional to edgy and modern pieces, remaining devoted to the quality of the diamonds and uniqueness of the item. Peachy Deegan met Dalyah Duek-Flaks at her store opening last week and chatted with her for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: How do you like Manhattan compared to South Africa? What are the pros and cons of each?
Dalyah Duek-Flaks: Life in New York is very different to life in Johannesburg. The market in Johannesburg is a smaller and more intimate market. In Johannesburg, having been a fairly big player in the diamond & jewelry market we find ourselves competing against leading brands that have been around for decades.

How old were you when you received your first diamond?
I received my first diamond at 12-years old on the occasion of my Bat mitzvah celebration.

You were telling me at your store opening that your daughter was a bit younger than you when she did? Please tell Whom You Know the story about your daughter's first diamond.
Being both a woman & a mother, and working in this industry, when one has a daughter, you can’t wait to see her in her first pair of diamond stud earrings. I waited anxiously until she was 6-months old, to get her ears pierced, and then gave her first pair of diamond studs. She looked absolutely gorgeous.

Of the colored diamonds, which color do you like the best and why?
My favorite is the natural pink. They are very rare and very beautiful.

What is your most favorite piece you have ever designed, what do you like about it, and can we see a picture of it?
I have many favorites, but one of them in particular, is a cocktail dress ring. It is set in 18 Carat Rose Gold, with a combination of various semi-precious stones with clusters of diamonds. It sits uniquely elongated along the finger. (This will be featured in an upcoming Rock Your Body feature for Whom You Know.)

What have you learned from your father?
Everything I know about the diamond and jewelry industry has been learnt from my dad, Moshe Duek. He has been in the diamond business since a young boy, and his knowledge is profound. This has been in an integral part of my success. His positive mindset, high standard of ethics, and his ability to overcome adversity have left a marked impact on me.

Other than your father, are others in your family involved in your business?
My two younger brothers are also involved in the business on the rough and polished loose diamond side.

If you didn't go into the diamond business, what do you think you would have pursued as a career?
Before I got involved in this industry, I was trained in, and graduated in a marketing and advertising degree. I have a creative streak, so I think I would’ve headed down that path.

What are your strategies for success in a tough economy?
No one could have possibly foreseen the tough economic climate that we find ourselves in at present. As a new business, should we be unable to sustain ourselves with the high overheads in Manhattan, I will still pursue my dream on a smaller scale and go back to basics.

What was the most fun part of your store opening last Thursday?
I am passionate about what I do, and to see such an amazing turnout and positive response to my designs was awesome. It was also great to have my father and husband there with me by my side to share in this great moment.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
I absolutely love the buzz and energy of Times Square

What is your favorite shop?
Other than the Dalyah store of course? Well I can often be found in a Starbucks.

What is your favorite drink?
A Grande skim latte, extra hot from Starbucks

What is your favorite restaurant?
Tao, which is directly across the street is awesome.

What is your favorite NYC book?
I read all the New York restaurant guides

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
Times Square, the buzz and the action

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I am also a qualified ballet, Spanish and modern dance teacher, personal trainer and aerobics instructor.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
I can be contacted at the store on (212) 575-2211 or at

Whom You Know's coverage of her store opening:

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