Indeed, last December proved to be Craig Drake’s Waterloo. Craiger left the business; he now plans to open his own private jewelry company this fall. Paragon Pearls, a New York jewelry wholesaler, won a default judgment against Drake for $14,500; that same month, Drake’s landlord, 1529 Walnut Street Associates, won what is known as a “confession of judgment” for more than $62,000 for failure to pay rent. And in perhaps the worst of the December storms, the Louis Glick Diamond Corp. filed suit in federal court seeking a judgment of $684,326.82 in a complex, messy clash involving consigned diamond jewelry and a promissory note from Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. dating back to 2002.
The following month, Craig Drake Manufacturing went out of business.
That set the Rittenhouse set churning, wondering what additional problems lay within the Craig Drake universe — and whether, given his financial troubles, he was playing fast and loose with any of them. One Main Line matron I spoke to, in the middle of a particularly hideous divorce, told me about how she and her soon-to-be-ex were recently warring over a bracelet the husband had bought at one of Drake’s Christmas men’s events. Until, that is, one of her friends called and blithely remarked, “Honey, it’s not worth fighting over.” Her curiosity piqued, she claims, she took the bracelet to another renowned Center City jeweler and got it appraised — and was told it was worth $50,000 less than her husband paid. “My husband ended up giving me a check for what he’d paid for it,” she says now, quietly chuckling.
Another Chestnut Hill socialite told me about taking some friends visiting from Europe to Drake’s showroom; the guests were anxious to leave the U.S. with some shiny trinkets. But after an hour perusing, the women declared themselves ready to go without making any purchases — leaving their hostess to snap up a ring to avoid embarrassment. Once outside, she asked her visitors why they hadn’t bought anything. “Oh, darling,” one said, “the stuff in there is marked up to the ceiling!”
When I bring all of the legal woes up to Drake, he is, predictably, defensive. “Don’t ruin me in this article,” he snaps. I say that I’m simply trying to determine what really went down here. “I don’t know,” he replies, the way a child says he doesn’t know who broke Mom’s favorite vase. “I have a lawyer. He knows what’s happening.”
He calls the Rosenberg suit “ridiculous,” and then, as I press for more details, wearily exhales. “I don’t know these things. I really don’t, you know? The only thing I know is that I paid a lot of people a lot of money in my life. And at the end it got a little tough on account of the bank.”
Craiger says his father’s company ultimately failed because the business model couldn’t weather the severity of the current economic crash. The recession brought new orders from folks like Saks and Bailey Banks & Biddle to a screeching halt, and Drake didn’t have enough private-clientele business to offset the wait for his consigned jewelry to sell at retail. And with credit markets frozen, cash dried up.