As the nation’s bear market affects more affluent people, Diamond Bank offers people averse to pawnshops a more discrete way to obtain cash or loans secured with precious metal or diamonds, including those with upper-crust carats.
“We’re looking for nice, major diamonds, half carat or larger, and also to buy gold, platinum, silver or high-end watches like Rolexes,” said Amy Perkins, manager of the shop at 26 N. Ninth Street.
Does Diamond Banc appeal to those customers who do not want to go to a pawnshop? “Absolutely, yes,” she said.
Customers must press a button by the door to be buzzed into a snug, corporate-like office. “We try to provide a more professional, upscale environment,” she said.
A fireproof safe contains jewelry held as collateral for loans.
In one recent transaction, Diamond Banc employee Kyle Cook accepted about 20 pieces of jewelry – necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings – from a woman who had cleaned out her jewelry case. She left with a $1,500 check.
Diamond Banc opened in April 2008 and is owned by Mills Menser, who also owns Buchroeder’s Jewelers. The jewelry loan operation had been located within Buchroeder’s retail sales location on Broadway downtown, but Diamond Banc is a separate entity.
“People have a misconception that our store is Buchroeder’s, but it is not,” Perkins said. The business, which is located across from The Blue Note and next to My Secret Garden, does not sell items to the public.
Loans are made on 25 to 35 percent of an item’s appraised retail value, Menser said. Charges for item redemption consist of a blending of store fees, insurance, security charges and a 2 percent finance charge, from 8 percent to 15 percent per month total.
Menser said the service is not designed for long-term borrowing, because it would be significantly more costly than traditional lending services, but it is not an expensive way of borrowing money for the short term, 30 to 90 days.
“Say you are in a pinch,” Menser said. “The banks won’t lend you money. We offer a specialized service where our customers can get money when they can’t get it anywhere else.”
Seven out of 10 clients redeem their jewelry in the course of a year, Menser said. “We want to grow in that area,” he said.
“Everybody has unexpected runs of bad luck, whether it be with their business or personal life,” Perkins said. “We are here to help with those unexpected situations.”
Diamond Banc does not sell retail jewelry but offers it to wholesale outlets.
Menser plans to open a second Diamond Banc in Jefferson City in May.