Widely respected as one of the most knowledgeable diamond and gemstone experts around the globe, Robert Procop is as gracious as he is talented. I had the pleasure of meeting with him at a recent Saks Fifth Avenue trunk show, and his eyes lit up as he enthusiastically walked me through his beautiful collection.
Born in Southern California, Procop has been a curator of gems since the tender age of 16, when he went to work in his brother-in-law’s pawn shop. It was there that he became fascinated with stones and learned the ins and outs of buying and selling them for the right price.
At 19 years old he was learning how to cut gemstones and diamonds under the direction of master cutters, and even trained to cut emeralds at the source in Bogotá, Colombia. Another key element of Procop’s process is the use of light to maximize the beauty of each stone he cuts. His knowledge of lighting came from working closely with his father, who was an engineer with General Electric.
Procop specializes in and thrives on finding rare stones he can turn into stunning pieces of jewelry.
Over the course of his career Procop has served in a multitude of roles, from wholesaler and designer to retailer and business leader. As a young adult he opened and ran his own store called Diamonds on Rodeo, where he created jewels for an elite clientele, including President Ronald Reagan. In more recent years, as the CEO of Asprey & Garrard, the crown jeweler of the United Kingdom, Procop led the organization through a restructuring and a return to their beginnings as two separate companies. Today, he is focused on running his own LA-based jewelry house, Robert Procop Exceptional Jewels, and sells his designs through select luxury retailers and to private clients.
Procop specializes in and thrives on finding rare stones he can turn into stunning pieces of jewelry. He is especially passionate about working with high-quality, precious gems such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. The rarer and more flawless, the better. His customers are primarily collectors or those looking for limited-edition, statement pieces of exceptional quality. His jewelry is intricate and feminine, and his influences range from vintage Hollywood and Parisian culture to today’s glamorous red carpet.
“I create a piece of jewelry designed around the stone and a woman’s lifestyle,” says Procop, who lets the stone guide him in his design inspiration.
Procop creates roughly 450-500 pieces of jewelry per year, which allows him to select exceedingly rare stones and put special care into cutting each piece. This also allows him to focus his attention on delivering only the best quality and unique pieces. A special project he’s working on currently involves cutting colossal stones that are more than 100 carats in size. These exquisite statement pieces will be presented to collectors through his retail partners, such as Saks Fifth Avenue.
Along with his impressive resume, Procop is perhaps best known for designing Angelina Jolie’s engagement ring.
Along with his impressive resume, Procop is perhaps best known for designing Angelina Jolie’s engagement ring. He worked with Brad Pitt for more than a year creating the one-of-a-kind ring, centered with a flawless oblong-shaped diamond with smaller diamonds circling the yellow-gold band. The total weight of the diamonds was reportedly 16 carats.
Procop first met the actress and humanitarian in 2000, and the two have since gone on to collaborate on a philanthropic jewelry project. Under the brand, Style of Jolie, the duo designs and sells statement gemstones with 100-percent of the proceeds going to build schools for girls in impoverished countries. This month, Procop is also releasing a captivating jewelry collection he designed with Jolie’s artistic daughter, Zahara.
In addition to the children’s causes touched by Style of Jolie, Robert has a charity in Los Angeles that is especially close to his heart. When the designer was first introduced to the House of Ruth, the shelter for battered women and children operated just one four-room house. Now, thanks in large part to his efforts from not only monetary donations, but also designing and building more facilities, the nonprofit has 16 shelters.
“Philanthropy has always been an important part of my life… I’m blessed to be able to help people,” Procop says. To further support new projects for the cause, longtime client and close friend, Brooke Shields, is collaborating with him to design the Legacy Brooke collection.
While Procop has had many notable accomplishments over the course of his career, he shared with me that he is most proud of “the notes from children that have lived in the House of Ruth shelter and are now graduating school and have made a new life for themselves.”
Without a doubt, this is a man who has a true passion for his vocation. While Procop was hesitant to name his favorite creation, he told me that the statement pieces in his American Glamour collection, which gives a nod to old Hollywood with its unique vintage flair, are the most copied. “(My designs) are a labor of love… they are all like my children,” he says. They are indeed stunning.
From creating jewels that are sure to be heirlooms, to his life-changing charity work in support of children and families, it is clear Procop is building an extraordinary legacy.
COFFEE OR TEA?
Surfing & skiing
PLAY OR MUSICAL?
LAST BOOK YOU READ?
The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus
SOMETHING WE’D BE SURPRISED TO HEAR?
I pray in my treehouse every morning.
IF YOU COULD TRADE LIVES WITH ANYONE FOR A DAY?
FAVE TRAVEL DESTINATION?
Any place with warm water and beautiful sunsets.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU CONSIDER ICONIC?
Man landing on the moon