Changing the World One Gem at a Time
By Robin Jay
Giving back to help children in need is the personal mission of Beverly Hills’ Exceptional Jeweler Robert Procop and his leading ladies of the Silver Screen.
When South Florida Opulence was offered a private interview with jeweler-to-the-stars Robert Procop at Saks Fifth Avenue Dadeland, my heart skipped a beat. It’s not every day you get the honor of meeting such a man of achievement. Procop was the CEO of the Crown jeweler of the United Kingdom (Asprey & Garrard) who successfully turned around the most historic jewelry company in London, saving it from financial ruin; the man whose first presidential jewelry commission came from Ronald Reagan; the man who handcrafted the engagement ring of actress Angelina Jolie on request from Brad Pitt; or, perhaps most importantly, the man whose 30-year personal mission has been to support causes benefiting underprivileged children.
Toward this philanthropic effort, Robert designed the fanciful jewelry line for the blockbuster film Maleficent, donating proceeds of the line to Jolie’s charity Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. And, for The House of Ruth – an L.A. organization that provides a loving, safe home environment for families impacted by domestic violence, Robert has purchased two homes for the cause to date. Recently he partnered with actress Brooke Shields to create a line of jewelry called Legacy Brooke to further benefit The House of Ruth.
With such an impressive list of worldly accomplishments, I wondered what Robert, an A-lister himself, would be like in person during our interview. Would he be arrogant and aloof?
A Nice Surprise
Not in the slightest! When Robert entered the room, he was dressed in a suit with a white shirt, no tie. He offered a smile and warm handshake. He was kind and soft-spoken, seemed a bit shy and maybe a little nervous. I thought I’d start the interview with an icebreaker… “Robert?”
“Hamburgers or pizza?”
He paused, puzzled as to why I’d ask about food preferences – especially at 9 a.m. – when we were at Saks Fifth Avenue to talk about jewelry. Then, seeing the grin on my face, he laughed out loud – and then we all did. “Burgers for sure!” he said with a smile from ear to ear. From then on, we chatted like old friends catching up.
Strong Values, Character and Work Ethic
I was touched at Robert’s humble nature. How does he stay so well grounded when every venture he touches turns into gold? After speaking at length, the answer became clear: It was his solid family upbringing (“my family was always together”) that gave him an ingrained sense of strong moral character, integrity, humility, encouragement, confidence and entrepreneurship. Robert knew the path he wanted to take in life from a very early age.
“My Dad was an engineer and inventor,” Robert recalled. “He would say to me, ‘always work for yourself and sacrifice money to have independence – and follow your passion.’ ”
At 16, Robert took a job at a pawnshop. Being used to seeing things up close under a microscope at his father’s company, he quickly became consumed with the internal beauty of diamonds sold at the store. With a precocious business sense, he also picked up on the intrinsic value of precious gems as investments. He began buying and selling diamonds as a teenager. He was so successful at it that he earned and saved enough money not only to put himself through college, but also to open a jewelry store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills the year prior to graduating.
Robert’s drive and pursuit of excellence in everything he does, while earning his own way, never seeking the spotlight, were easily apparent to those who met him. Word about the fine jeweler spread fast – to dignitaries, heads of state and, of course, celebrities, who commissioned his jewelry designs. Today, he travels the world, touring mines and honorable gem sources to find the most brilliant, valuable stones possible and then overseeing them processed, cut and polished at his firm’s location in Geneva. All the while, holding very near to his vest, a relentless desire to help others.
Robert’s voice cracked with emotion when he told me about a letter he received recently from a young lady in her 20s. It was a very special thank-you letter. In it, the young woman wrote that when she was a child, she lived with her mother at The House of Ruth. But it wasn’t until her 25th birthday when her mother confided in her a small secret – the reason they lived at The House of Ruth was because they had been homeless. All those years, the young girl had no idea. She had felt no shame, just genuine love. Recently, she graduated from college and had landed a fine job in her field. She attributes her success to the love, support and strong sense of family she received at The House of Ruth, and for that she would be ever grateful to Robert for his support.
“That,” he said with a tear in his eye, “is what makes life and hard work worthwhile.”