Born Yakov Arabov, he emigrated with his family when he was 14 from the former Soviet Union republic of Uzbekistan to the United States and later adopted the professional version of his name: Jacob Arabo. As a youngster he had an interest in his family’s jewelry and time pieces. At age 16, he discontinued his formal education before completing high school and enrolled in a six-month jewelry-making course, which he graduated four months later. By the time he was 17 years old he was designing his own pieces in his own jewelry factory near New York City's diamond district.
Initially selling his pieces from a kiosk in the Kaplan Jewelry Exchange (in the heart of New York City’s jewelry district), by the age of 21, Arabo had officially started his own company, called Diamond Quasar, and began designing his own Jacob & Co. branded jewelry.
Although he started out offering moderately priced, traditional jewelry, Arabo’s design sense soon caught the eyes of celebrities, singers, and artists in the hip-hop and rap music world. In the early 1990s his clientele and business grew, and Arabo became known as “Jacob the Jeweler,” the moniker first appearing in rap songs by Jay-Z, Nas and other rappers.
In June 2006, Arabo was arrested on charges of money laundering and conspiracy in connection with the Detroit-based Black Mafia Family, as well as for not declaring large cash purchases to the IRS. In October 2007, after admitting to lying to investigators, Arabo and his attorney, Ben Brafman, entered a plea in which the more serious charges of money-laundering were dropped. In June 2008, Arabo was sentenced to two and a half years in prison, fined $50,000, and ordered to forfeit $2 million to the U.S. government. Arabo was released from jail in April 2010.
In popular culture
Arabo is well known in the entertainment industry for his unique jewelry designs and is mentioned in several hip-hop songs as "Jacob the Jeweler" or just "Jacob";
- "I went to Jacob an hour after I got my advance / I just wanted to shine." - "Touch the Sky" by Kanye West.
- "I took you outta Jacob's in clusters / Busters, they wanted to rush us / Love the way you sparkle when the sun touch ya." - "Girl's Best Friend" by Jay-Z.
- "Take her to the diamond district, introduce her to Jacob / Tell her if she like me she should keep me icey." - "Get in My Car" by 50 Cent.
- "I get paper, it seems I get foolish / Take it to Jacob and play 'Which hue's the bluest?'" - "Wamp Wamp (What It Do)" by Clipse
Arabo married his wife, Angela when he was 24 and they live in Forrest Hills, Queens in a brick Colonial house they bought for $1.17 million in 1999.
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- "The New York Times". August 15, 1999. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
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- "Jacob&Co.". New York Magazine. Retrieved October 2011.
- Gil Kaufman (June 24, 2008). "Jacob 'The Jeweler' Arabov, Diamond Merchant To Countless Rappers, Sentenced To Two And A Half Years In Prison". MTV.com. Retrieved June 9, 2011.
- Levent Ozler. "Travel + Leisure Magazine Names Winners of Second Annual Design Awards". Dexigner. Retrieved February 16, 2006.
- "Jacob The Jeweler And Where He Came From". Love & Pieces. Retrieved August 20, 2014.