TRUE: Give us a little background about your upbringing and where you come from family wise
BIG O: I was born in Israel. After my parents divorced (being too young to care for a child) my mom remarried and moved to France and I grew up in various south suburbs of Paris. The last 5 years of my life in France I lived with a family from the West Indies, who became my second family. She was a single mom with 3 boys, 3 girls. I got to LA at age 23, wanting to get a better life.
(A fox that Big O designed for actress Vivica A. Fox)
TRUE: What made you follow in the footsteps of your family to join the family business? How long have you guys been up and running?
BIG O: My life in France was pretty cool, but growing up, I was always intrigued by the english language (my english teacher loved me because it seemed like I was the only one interested to learn, which my grades reflected.) For some reason, America was just a dream. Until I called my aunt and asked her if I could come for a prolonged 3 month vacation in 1994. After a month of just chilling, I ended up going to my uncle’s office where he sat me down to measure diamonds (princess cuts to be precise) I was 23 years old and I loved it right away.
(Rings designed for Big O’s new “Nitez and Daze” collection)
TRUE: At what age did you get into making jewelry? What were the first 3 lessons that you’ve learned from your predecessors?
BIG O: The family has been in the business since the end of the 2nd World War. My uncle’s dad started as a diamond cleaver and became one of the most reputable diamond dealers in the diamond exchange in Israel which he still is today at age 83. My uncle (who is 56 today) also started as a diamond cutter and came to LA in his early 20′s to become one of the 1st diamond dealers. He soon realized that he could make a little more money on his diamonds by setting them into jewelry. As jewelry manufacturers, we’ve been in the business for over 30 years. NuO Inc. has been in business since 2005. The 1st 3 lessons that I learned were; 1, always count cash from whoever because mistakes can happen. Always look at diamonds when buying them, and have patience.
(Nitez and Daze collection)
TRUE: Of all of the pieces that you’ve worked on, what were 3 of your favorites and why?
BIG O: My favorite 3 would be; the Aftermath pendant for The Game, which was probably one of the 1st pieces ever made by a 3D computer and wax printed instead of from a mold. The 2nd one has to be the Fox pendant for Vivica A. Fox. The labor and the intricate diamonds, along with the gem choices makes this piece just gorgeous. The 3rd one, I hate to go back to Game, but that latest Jesus piece was a challenge and I couldn’t have been more happy about the outcome which was Chuck’s face as Jesus wearing a white Jesus head ( I have to give the credit to Chuck for coming up with the idea)
(Nitez and Daze collection)
TRUE: What were some of the most difficult pieces that you’ve worked on? What made them more difficult than others?
BIG O: I have to say the Jesus Piece for Game is probably one of the toughest ones so far. It’s made out of 7 different pieces, with so many assembled parts. The settings were all done with a microscope, and to polish all the curves was a nightmare. I can probably produce thousands of diamond rings in the time it took us to make this master piece.
(Nitez and Daze collection)
TRUE: At what point did it go from creating your own ideas to creating customize jewelry for celebrities? Who was the first celebrity that you worked with?
BIG O: The 1st piece of Jewelry that I sold was to Pharrel, a very clean 22 Karat chain with a diamond cross. It was from meeting him by accident while he was in LA. He was probably the only gentleman that I’ve ever had the pleasure to deal with. Shortly after, I was introduced to The Game in Compton when he was just about to come out. I guess these 2 guys were primarily my inspiration to get into custom work for celebrities besides the fact that I wanted to get them right price wise.
TRUE: We got the scoop that you were once a rapper, what was your MC name and who are your top 3 MC’s of all time? Have you done any pieces for them?
BIG O: It’s true, my stage name was Rap’s One (still today I’m trying to understand how I came up with thiat name ) and we were “The Best MCs, we’re talking about the very 1st beginning of Rap in France… My top 3 are LL Cool J, Eric B and Rakim, and Public Enemy. No, I’ve never made anything for these guys, nor have I had the honor to meet them.
TRUE: Is there a set protocol that you follow when making jewelry? How long does it take you to make a customized piece on average?
BIG O: Since I learned some lessons the hard way, I will never start a piece of jewelry without a deposit (unless you are a regular client with you CC on file) and I won’t deliver before the full payment is received. The average time is 4 weeks, but I can do things as fast as 5 days.
(Young Money piece designed for NBA baller J.R. Smith)
TRUE: Do you do any promotions for your company or is it basically by word of mouth?
BIG O: Mostly word of mouth.
TRUE: Have you ever ran into any difficult clients? who were they? and how did you handle the situation?
BIG O: No I haven’t, and in any case I have way too much patience to even consider a client difficult
(Dog tags designed for NFL running back Ahman Green)
TRUE: What do you enjoy doing during your downtime? What are your hobbies?
BIG O: I have 2 boys, so as much time as I can be with them during there activities (karate, basketball, and football) and as far as me, basketball is what I enjoy the most in which I play 4 times a week.
TRUE: Have you ever worked with someone before they got famous and watched their career grow into fame ? Who was it?
BIG O: I guess the Game’s the main person I saw growing from the corner of Wilmington & Brazil in Compton to a nice big house on the hills of Glendale.
TRUE: Will there be a 4th and hopefully a 5th generation of custom jewelry makers in your family?
BIG O: We all hope to leave with a legacy behind us so I guess only time will tell. My kids are only 7 and 11 for now.
TRUE: What new products do you have coming out? Are there any celebrity pieces that you’re working on currently?
BIG O: I just finished designing a new collection called “Nitez n Daze,” which is mainly for women, all Rose gold with black and white diamonds. The coolest part is that all the pieces are reversible, so it’s like having 2 in 1.
TRUE: Tell us about your logo, how did you come up with it? and what does it stand for?
BIG O: My Logo, if you look carefully has a “n” and a “u” with a circle around it (NuO) and it can be red the same way upside down. The design of it came in a common effort of Harvey Heumann, who is my 3D master model maker. As for myself, it stands for the “New” me.
(Devil piece made for New Jerzey Devil)
TRUE: Tell us about The Game’s Jesus piece. When did he come to you to have it done? How long did it take to complete it?
BIG O: After the 4 different colors of Jesus Pieces that Game posted on Instagram, we met one night at his studio where I showed him another Jesus face I made (on my phone) and he yelled “that’s me, that’s my nose” and then he says ” O, make me a 5 inch Jesus piece just like that one, wearing a “white Jesus.” Although Chuck wanted the piece made in 4 days like I did on his last Black Wall Street one, there was no way that I could have done it. It took 4 weeks to complete and I’m glad we took that time. Like I always say, the more time I have the better the quality you’ll get.
(Before sketches of The Game’s Jesus piece)
TRUE: What was the process behind making the piece? Give us a play by play
BIG O: People come to me to get quality pieces for very affordable prices. As much as I would like to stay “made in USA,” my factory in China makes all my intense labor pieces so that I can keep good prices and quality. The very 1st thing we do for any piece is draw it with the stone placements, then it’ll be computer generated for 100% accuracy. Then the wax is printed by layers. It takes 32 hours just for the big size face and additional 15 hours for the other 5 pcs. Game’s Jesus Piece is made out of 7 pcs. Once the wax was finished, we then cast the pieces in gold. After casting, we clean all the pieces file excessive pieces of metal, making everything smooth, We then start setting all the little round stones, then assemble all the pieces before the final polish and making it shine. I must say this was the most complex pendant I had to make so far.
(The Game’s Jesus piece finished product)
TRUE: What type of gold is in it? How many diamonds? What does something like that cost?
BIG O: The Jesus Pendant is made out of 14K white gold, has precisely 1113 round brilliant diamonds almost 20ct. Value 150K
Check out Big O on Instagram: @BigOtheJeweler and his company website www.nuo-la.com