Jacob The Jeweler
While Jacob the Jeweler is not exactly the type of jewelry we offer here at Love & Pieces we think his history makes for a good story. Lets look at how Jacob Arabo got to be the king of Bling.
Who is Jacob The Jeweler
The founder of Jacob & Company, Jacob Arabo otherwise known as Jacob The Jeweler is loved by rappers for his ostentatious bling. He's not quite as loved by the federal government: Accused of a litany of crimes including money laundering, Arabo pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in 2007 and was later sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Yakov Arabov moved to the United States at the age of 14, dropping out of high school to enroll in a six-month jewelry design course. After a brief apprenticeship, he went out on his own and by 21 had opened a stall in the Kaplan Jewelry Exchange. For his first few years in the business, Jacob the Jeweler ran an ordinary jewelry firm, selling mid-priced diamond engagement rings and the like. Until, that is, the early 1990s rolled around and he started designing pieces for the hip hop set. Both Biggie and Tupac were early customers, and Jacob's talent for embedding diamonds in just about every household item imaginable (not to mention his willingness to accept wads of cash, no questions asked) turned him into the "King on Bling" as he crafted a never-ending stream of diamond-encrusted watches, gold ropes, and Jesus pendants for the hip hop elite. Rappers started mentioning Jacob by name in their songs, and he became an established presence on the hip hop social scene, hanging out backstage and jetting off to places like St. Tropez to chill with Diddy. With a $12.2 million flagship on East 57th Street that opened in 2004—and a very rich business partner, diamond billionaire (and fellow Uzbeki Jew) Lev Leviev—Arabo's company grossed more than $20 million in 2006.
In June 2006, the FBI arrested Jacob the Jeweler, alleging that he helped launder millions for members of a notorious Detroit-based drug gang, Black Mafia Family and that he failed to report large cash purchases to the IRS. With defense attorney Ben Brafman by his side, Arabo negotiated a plea in October 2007, in which he admitted lying to investigators and filing false documents. (The more serious charges of money laundering charge were dropped.) Jacob the Jeweler was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in June 2008, and he'll also fork over a $2 million fine. This wasn't Arabo's first brush with the law, though. In 1998, he was arrested by the FBI for criminal possession of stolen property. (The charges were dropped.) He had a civil lawsuit to contend with in 2004 when Cartier sued him for trademark infringement, alleging he beefed up Cartier watches with extra diamonds and resold them.
Jacob the Jeweler has a long list of satisfied customers: Fat Joe, Ludacris, Ja Rule,50 Cent, Diddy, Jennifer Lopez, Kanye West,Naomi Campbell, Kimora Lee Simmons, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliot have all had Jacob design custom pieces. Arabo does both traditional designs (Christy Turlington wore a $180,000 necklace designed by Arabo when she got hitched to Ed Burns in 2003) and the blingeriffic (like Pharrell Williams' 18-karat gold Blackberry case). He's especially popular for his diamond-encrusted "Five Time Zone" watches, which can cost from $5,000 to $1 million. Elton John bought two dozen of them to give away as gifts.
Arabo married his wife, Angela, when he was 24. They live in Forrest Hills, Queens, in a brick Colonial house they bought for $1.17 million in 1999. Like his clients Damon Dash and Jay-Z, Arabo is chauffeured around town in a $400,000 black Maybach.
In the video game Def Jam: Fight for NY, 3D hip-hop thugs compete to earn cash, which they can use to buy jewels from Arabo.
Originally appeared in Cityfile New York