In the summer of 1912, my great-great grandfather Abdullah Khalaf emigrated from Palestine through Ellis Island in pursuit of his American dream. He didn’t have much money to his name, but he had big aspirations as he traversed the streets of New York City as a young man.
As a diligent man, he worked a variety of jobs until he was able to save enough money to buy some inventory and open his store in New York City’s Financial District, where he sold linens and lingerie.
He quickly found success in his business named after his hometown – Al Bireh Trading Company. Later he moved back to Palestine to spend the remainder of his life in public service. He applied the organizational skills he learned in the USA, established the first municipality for his hometown Al Bireh, and became its first and most loved mayor.
My grandfather, Tawfiq, was inspired by his father’s success and immigrated to the USA in 1948. He settled in the American Midwest, traveling by car across farmlands and selling similar products as his father did to everyday Americans. His American dream was the freedom to drive across the country and hear the stories of farmers and ranchers. He fell in love with their lifestyles, as it reminded him of his homeland Palestine, where tending to olive trees is a national pastime still carried on today. With his thick Arab accent and cowboy hat, Tawfiq’s charisma and tact made him loved by nearly every customer he dealt with. It is even said that one customer loved him so much, they bought him a Cadillac for Christmas.
My father Ralph and his three younger brothers: Bob, Nash, & Joe followed in their father’s footsteps and started immigrating to the USA in 1964. They carried on his legacy in pursuit of their American dreams. Together, the four formed an enterprising brotherhood and was admired by many. Each brother would drive in different directions sharing unique rugs and tapestries with farmers and ranchers. By chance, my father discovered the warmth and unparalleled talent of the Navajo, Zuni, and Santa Domingo indigenous artists in New Mexico. My father quickly recognized the opportunity to trade and market turquoise jewelry in the early 1970’s as it was becoming very popular. He quickly asked his three younger brothers to join him. By 1974 The Khalaf Brothers became one of the largest turquoise jewelry wholesalers in the world.
By 1984 my father decided there was a magical silver mining town in Colorado that might be a special place for him and my mother to raise my four sisters and me. We moved to Aspen where my father had purchased a gem and jewelry store. After my 10th birthday, he brought me to work and taught me how to appreciate rare turquoise jewelry and unique crystals. He showed me how to sell them to well-traveled guests, both common folk and famous. Unfortunately, by the time I was 17 years old, my father had health issues and I was asked to take over the family business. The lessons he taught me in my youth proved to be priceless.
In 1993 I was blessed to meet my wife Fahima. It was love at first sight and we were engaged three weeks after meeting! Fahima moved to Aspen and helped me run our family business. In 1996 we were gifted Baby Ralph, the first of children in Colorado. Baby Rami followed 19 months later. Shortly afterwards I traveled to China for the first time where I began designing and producing the World’s Finest Gemstone Globes. That new collection quickly sold faster than any product I had ever touched. In 1997 I asked my Uncle Bob to join me in China to focus on increasing production. By 2000 the gemstone globe import business had outgrown our modest operation in Aspen. Thus, we moved to Las Vegas into a new 14,000 square feet building to better market and distribute our growing wholesale business. With more baby blessings…magnificent Mohammad entered our world in Las Vegas in 2001 and first daughter, beautiful Jannah followed in 2006.
Today, 110 years have passed since my great-grandfather planted the first seeds of trading. Thanks to Almighty, to all the priceless lessons my father and uncles taught me, to our 37 dedicated team members, to my wonderful wife Fahima and my three sons who are each extremely focused in their respective KALIFANO roles, we are first in class in our industry. My children are proud to continue the same journey their grandfather's grandfather began, five generations earlier!
Linen and lingerie product lines from 1912 on Madison Ave in New York have been upgraded to rare crystals, gemstones, fossils, and recycled metal art that we are proud to share with you in our four Las Vegas galleries, on our website, and through our hundreds of retail partners around the world. We hold the core values that there is no substitute for hard work, excellent quality, and superb customer service. We promise to treat all our guests and customers with dignity and respect and will work to provide unmatched customer service. Whether a head of state or a head of a household, we are honored to serve those that walk through our doors and will cherish that responsibility every day. Here’s to five generations more, God willing!