67, first generation
36, second generation
35, second generation
“In our family, we breathe diamonds,” says Amos Agami, owner of Universal Diamonds, a retail and wholesale loose diamond and finished jewelry showroom based in Atlanta. The Israeli-born gemologist’s intense dedication to the business he opened in 1980 is what prompted his sons, Ronnie and Jonathan, to come on board in the early 2000s, he says. “My sons would listen to me at home when I would speak to clients, and they learned a lot about the business by just being near me.” Both sons are now partners in Universal Diamonds, which extends their investment in the company far beyond family ties. “They do not work for me,” Amos says. “They work with me.”
Amos: Ronnie is a people person, and Jonathan is more into the numbers and the technical part. Ronnie deals directly with clients on wholesale, and has his own private retail customers. Jonathan does that too, but also helps with the buying. Both are capable of doing it all.
Ronnie: When you grow up in a family business, you eat it and drink it for dinner. I went to the University of Michigan and studied political science and thought I might go to law school. But one summer we worked in Tel Aviv doing diamond grading for one of the largest manufacturers of diamonds in the world. And the summer before graduating I worked in Tiffany & Co.’s diamond-buying office as an intern.
Jonathan: My dad really prepared us for this gig. I went to Michigan and studied economics. But we would always help out in the summers.
Amos: I started the business by myself. My father told me if I make a lot of little profits, I will never be poor. I followed that advice for many years and passed it down to my kids. Never be greedy; always think of the client. What’s good for the client is what’s good for us.
Ronnie: What I admire most about my dad is his unwillingness to accept no as an answer. Failure is not an acceptable option. Opportunities are always there, he believes. He also taught us to treat a $100 sale the same as a $100,000 sale.
Jonathan: If I were to do it again, I would work for someone else before I came on. You can get some really good experience that you can bring back.
Ronnie: Anyone joining their family business should know how lucky they are. It’s a privilege being able to spend time with your family accomplishing goals you have together.
Ronnie: When working with family, that level of trust is there without having to think about it.
Jonathan: I like that when I want to go on vacation, I just go.
Amos: The best part of working with them is when they listen to me!
Pictured: Universal Diamonds’ Ronnie, Amos, and Jonathan Agami; photograph by Harold Daniels