A couple of weeks ago a very tempting invitation lit up my inbox: public relations maven, author and reality TV star, Kelly Cutrone, asked me to join an editor's field trip to an unveiling of a store re-design for her new client, Ultra Diamonds.
Cut to Manhattan's 34th St. heliport, where our cozy group of 11 climbed into 2 frantically-beating whirligigs for the 25-minute trip north, with sparkling diamonds and designer discounts as our destination.
I love flying, especially adventure flying, so the sometimes-turbulant trip through silvery fog didn't bother me a bit. Not so for some of my fellow passengers, who looked trepidatious at takeoff and downright nauseous during the flight (at 145 ground-miles per hour, according to our expert, Dublin-accented pilot, "Captain Fred"). Fortunately, no one completely lost it and we arrived at our destination -- a charming, small-town airport -- without incident.
At the new store we were greeted by company execs, including CEO Danny Marks, who was elegantly turned out in a pinstripe suit and gave a short speech about his company's evolution and how they're able to offer mega-sparklers for so much less than everyone else. "I believe passionately in smart sourcing. We spend a lot of time hunting for the best value out there and we're able to pass our savings along to the customer," Marks explained. By "savings," the dapper diamond dealer was referring to the excellent 75% off standard retail prices that he offers customers.
As for the selection at Ultra Diamonds, it's huge. The chain carries something for every jewelry lover, from glitzy bling to toned-down chic. The largest rock on offer was a 3-carat, round-cut diamond ring, but our favorite styles were more understated, like the simple, pave cuff bracelets, oval hoop earrings and delicate, gold bands.
After playing with diamonds for a while -- some editors took advantage of the excellent prices to pick up Mother's Day gifts -- the group broke and headed for other retail pastures. We had about 30 minutes to assess the bargains at the outlet's other great shops -- Prada, Bottega Veneta, Marni and Balenciaga, among them.
And then it was back to the choppers for the flight back to NYC, and reality.
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