Cherry Creek North : Small Business Spotlight

Mark Hadley (center) has spent four decades finding the perfect diamond for every occasion, and even made it a family affair by bringing his daughter Ashley (right) and son-in-law Bobby (left) into the business.

Fifteen years ago, Mark Hadley planned to open up a “small jewelry store” in Cherry Creek North. His name wasn’t even going to be on the sign.
“My company’s name used to be something else,” he explains. “But we changed it to Mark’s Diamonds because the cutters in Israel would say, ‘This is Mark’s diamond.’”

While his company has always been independently-run, staffed mostly by family and people he considers family, his passion for creating an unparalleled diamond, fine jewelry and luxury watch buying experience soon turned the business into something that even in the early days could never be described as “small.”

In October, Hadley will celebrate 40 years in the diamond business. But even when he started his career, he knew he wanted to focus on “love, passion and romance” – not sales.

When Hadley moved to Denver from Utah in 1980, he joined a family friend’s diamond business. The then 20-year-old was the youngest store manager the company ever had, and the job was stressful on such a young professional who, at the time, considered it just a temporary role.

He rose up the ranks to regional vice president and was responsible for sales in eight states, but once the business sold to a new owner, Hadley decided it was time to go off on his own and open a new business with his wife Nataliya. He wanted to create a more personalized jewelry buying experience in a place he already loved spending time, Cherry Creek North, where you’ll still find him going out to dinners with Nataliya and their five children.

When it comes to sales, Hadley’s approach has never been about pushing his knowledge. “Beauty looks different to everyone,” he says, and isn’t always defined by the Four C’s (clarity, cut, carat and color—though his decades in the business have made him knowledgeable about that, too.)

The secret to giving people what they really want, he says, is just to listen. Early in his career, Hadley’s eager ear and passion for pleasing people would get him in a bit of trouble with less-astute colleagues who, instead of listening, just kept trying to sell. But a smile stretches across his face as he recalls bringing sheer delight to a customer whenever he helped them finally find “the one.”

“I would get frustrated when other salespeople were not listening. They weren’t showing this diamond or that one that better fit someone’s needs or taste. I would politely interrupt and slide a ring on someone’s finger, and they would be like, ‘That is what I want!’ and it’s as simple as that.”

After he left his longtime company, Hadley kept a close relationship with the diamond manufacturer—one of the largest conflict-free diamond manufacturers in the world, he says—and that built the foundation for a lifelong business partnership. This relationship allows him to have more inventory on hand than most other jewelers, and a nearly limitless selection of loose diamonds.

“I just collect diamonds,” he admits. “Sometimes I say, ‘Do we really need all of these?’ But then I will have someone looking for a 4.5 carat elongated cushion cut diamond, and I will be like, ‘I’ve got one!’”

Tucked away in an office space in the ANB Bank Building, the location also helps Hadley offer lower prices compared to higher-rent retail storefronts. Prospective engagement ring shoppers and diamond devotees still get to browse jewelry cases and see the latest designs in the showroom, but the fifth-floor spot allows Hadley to offer his diamonds—including everything from a quarter carat to 24 carats—at a more affordable cost.

Located on the fifth floor of the ANB Bank Building, Mark’s Diamonds tucked-away location allows the company to offer its jewelry and watches at a lower price point (and enough room for a little golf practice).

And people keep coming back not just for his experience, but the care he and his staff take with everyone who walks through the door. Mark’s Diamonds has become a family affair, with Nataliya as his business partner and both his daughter Ashley and son-in-law Bobby on the team. While he has 12 employees, it’s not a rarity to find the owner staying late to consult with young couples to make sure they find the perfect ring at any price point.

As he continues to spend most of his days custom designing jewelry and helping couples find their dream engagement or wedding rings, Hadley has turned what he thought would be a temporary gig into a family legacy that always delivers on the promise of heirloom-worthy jewelry at a fair price. And that’s something worth putting your name on.

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