When Mark Jacobson and his brother Wayne opened the doors to Cumberland Diamond Exchange more than 30 years ago they had no idea just how significant a jewelry store could be. As new retailers they were committed to excellence, but little did they know their commitment would establish them as one of the core retailers in the Atlanta area. Believing their business was an extension of their personal lives, the brothers were determined to genuinely connect with each customer while providing them with excellent quality products at exceptional pricing. It is, according to Mark, what sets Cumberland Diamond Exchange apart. “It’s also what makes coming to work so enjoyable,” explains Mark.
The beginnings of greatness
When Mark started to work for a local Atlanta jeweler back in the late ‘70s he wasn’t fulfilling his dream or following in the footsteps of his family. He’d grown up in Virginia watching his father run his restaurant. He didn’t spend his summers sweeping floors or working behind the counter of a jewelry store after school. It wasn’t until he created a business proposal for a diamond broker that he truly considered going into the jewelry business for himself. That endeavor spurred him to come up with a plan, and within a year he opened the doors to Cumberland Diamond Exchange (CDE).
It wasn’t long before he recruited his brother, Wayne, to join him in the business. Wayne, who had a master’s degree in social work, left his special education teaching position in Virginia to join Mark at CDE in Atlanta. The two brothers worked side-by-side for two years until their business growth demanded adding staff into the mix. Finding someone with the jewelry knowledge they needed who also valued people and relationships was no easy task, but when they met Rhonda Aiken they knew they had the right person. Rhonda had the business knowledge of a seasoned veteran and had worked in HR prior to joining CDE. She had the same desire to connect with people, and in the fall of 1984 she joined the CDE team in what would become one of the most foundational decisions for the store...
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