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Hi, question for David about his HW experience

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oldminer

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David;

This was a wonderful story to tell everyone. People just can''t begin to imagine how others managed to get into the business we are in or how they got started. Times have greatly changed, but you are doing a good job of going from the traditionalist to a modern diamond guy. This kind of change is painful sometimes with new ideas and new technology altering the way it once was. Once in a while, it is good to put things back into the context of how things were in years and decades now past. THANK YOU.
 

Rockdiamond

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You''re welcome sir, and Thank YOU Dave!
It''s true that some things about the diamond business have changed due to technology.

For one thing, excellent- or very well made diamonds are far more common today, than they were in 1980.
Computers have really helped in this regard. Diamond cutting and computers are inexorably entwined at this point.

That''s one part of technology that''s had the one of the biggest impact on cut quality IMO.
For example they are cutting melee in China that''s unbelievably consistent.
IN the ''80''s, if you wanted the finest makes, you''d be speaking of Russian goods. Russian makes were that good.

Traditionally, Indian makes were questionable. IN the ''80''s the cheapest goods came out of India, and the cutting quality was quite poor on a lot of that stuff. Today, Indian made diamonds are far better, by and large.


Luckily for me, the change in the round diamond cutting end of things is not at all painful- other than what is considered to be the best cut has shifted, so my favorite style of cutting is much harder to find.
But that''s more esoteric.
The latest craze of Near Tolk has proved to be quite a market changing phenomenon.

When we''d judge stones for make, it was done based on the experience of looking at so many stones, to where you really get a feel.
Painted stones, for example, are easily spotted when you''ve been looking at fine makes extensively.
Girdle thickness is an extremely important aspect of cut that can be visually observed.

After looking at a gazillion 60% tables, you start to recognize the table size. It was not that hard to see a near tolk and immediately recognize the the tale.
In almost the same way I talked about clarity grading. You look at so many, it starts to become burned into your visual memory.
 

hlmr

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Facinating thread!! Thanks for starting and sharing your experience in it, Sharon & David!!

I may have missed your response David, but I am interested in the answer to Pyramid's question, regarding why H & I colours were graded as one.

Thanks!

eta: I will be attempting the louping with both eyes open technique in the near future.
 

MissGotRocks

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Very interesting indeed! We all have a sense of diamond cutting and grading now but not so much knowledge on how it was a few years back.

Do you think Tiffany''s uses a similar system to HW since they don''t use AGS or GIA to grade their stones?
 

Rockdiamond

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Good question about Tiffany....
Years back when I was a salesman I showed them goods.
They did have very strict parameters for the diamonds.

Speaking of salesmen- the other day I was talking to one of my old Winston buddies who was in sales.

Back in the ''70''s Harry Winston was the largest loose diamond company in the world.
They bought rough from both the Syndicate ( DeBeers) as well as goods outside the syndicate- they had a rough buyer that went all over the world buying.

Back then, Winston was selling loose diamonds to thousands of jewelry stores across America.
When a Winston salesman knocked on a jeweler''s door, the reception was almost always , very warm.
I mean, who wouldn''t want to look at Winston goods?

Given the accurate assorting, it was possible to order virtually any quality of stones, in almost any quantity.
If a mass merchandiser wanted to stock 1000 pairs of 1/2ct total weight earrings for $300 each or $1000 each, Winston could fill the order.
Of course the the most sensational diamonds were kept for Winston''s own use in the Salon.......

At that time Harry Winston was the sole supplier of JC Penny jewelry counters across America. In around 1980, JC Penny decided to split the country into divisions, and have other diamond houses bid for the business.
Mr Winston had passed away. These and other factors had wrought irreversible changes in Winston''s plans going forward.....


BTW- Sharon had asked about the jewelry. The pieces for the salon were manufactured in the same building in NYC- but as employees of the "Loose Diamond" division, we never got to handle that end of things.....
 

Hudson_Hawk

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Date: 3/2/2009 3:27:57 PM
Author: Rockdiamond
Good question about Tiffany....

Years back when I was a salesman I showed them goods.

They did have very strict parameters for the diamonds.


Speaking of salesmen- the other day I was talking to one of my old Winston buddies who was in sales.


Back in the ''70''s Harry Winston was the largest loose diamond company in the world.

They bought rough from both the Syndicate ( DeBeers) as well as goods outside the syndicate- they had a rough buyer that went all over the world buying.


Back then, Winston was selling loose diamonds to thousands of jewelry stores across America.

When a Winston salesman knocked on a jeweler''s door, the reception was almost always , very warm.

I mean, who wouldn''t want to look at Winston goods?


Given the accurate assorting, it was possible to order virtually any quality of stones, in almost any quantity.

If a mass merchandiser wanted to stock 1000 pairs of 1/2ct total weight earrings for $300 each or $1000 each, Winston could fill the order.

Of course the the most sensational diamonds were kept for Winston''s own use in the Salon.......


At that time Harry Winston was the sole supplier of JC Penny jewelry counters across America. In around 1980, JC Penny decided to split the country into divisions, and have other diamond houses bid for the business.

Mr Winston had passed away. These and other factors had wrought irreversible changes in Winston''s plans going forward.....



BTW- Sharon had asked about the jewelry. The pieces for the salon were manufactured in the same building in NYC- but as employees of the ''Loose Diamond'' division, we never got to handle that end of things.....

This is surprising to me. Granted I''ve never seen jewelry from Penny''s from around that era, but still. Penny''s?? Winston''s?? WOW!
 

Rockdiamond

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True, you would not normally associate Harry Winston with JC Penny.
Remember that the buying of rough- on that scale- meant that Winston had a lot of lower quality goods that needed to be sold as well.
In fact, the JC Penny operation was so big Winston leased some space across the street to house all the additional personnel.
Actually, it was my mom, who was a secretary for one of the big wigs in that department, that was the reason I got the interview in the first place!
 

Sharon101

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Ha, good old Mum.....David, i hope you went on to buy your Mum a really big beautiful diamond for getting you into the business!!!!! j/k

Also, maybe you missed the question about why did you grade diamonds H and I together?

I am also wondering if you can share any other details or stories from your days with HW?

eg. Did they give staff discounts, did you ever buy any of their diamonds or jewellery. How do you think the best diamonds from those days would measure up with todays standards.

And Im hoping you have some funny stories about the customers and sales that occured. eg did any customers ever try to steal a ring, swallow one etc hee hee
 

Rockdiamond

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HI - you're more than welcome everyone!!

I've been talking to an old friend who was a salesman for Winston as I was training.
In terms of color, here's his recollection:
1=D
2=E-F
3=G-H
3A=I-J
4=K-L
4A=M-N-O
5A= cape stones

Colors were combined as that's really a practical way to assort diamonds.
E and F are practically indistinguishable.
If the stones are mounted, it's really impossible to tell the difference.

Major stones were first graded internally by the folks on the fifth floor- and in the school- then sent to GIA.
It was really an exciting time when a major stone would come in.
There you were assorting an endless pile of .02ct stones, and in walks a 10 carat emerald cut to grade.
The stone would be given first to the senior "student"- who would examine the diamond, and write down his idea of the grade on a piece of paper.
The stone would then be passed to the next senior guy.
I never achieved any seniority there, so I was usually one of the last people to look at the stone. The five or six girls in the school were always given priority. Things were different in 1976 remember.
Of course who could concentrate on .02 teeny weenies when you knew you were about to see something huge and amazing.....

After everyone had looked at, and graded the stone privately, we compared notes.
The man who ran the school would have the final word.
This man was so strict.
He had NO lips.


The day started at 9am sharp.
I mean razor sharp.
There were about six rows of desks.
Each desk had it's own fluorescent diamond light.
We each had a small box with a lid to store our work overnight. These were locked into the main vault.
At 9 am the diamonds were handed out. At 9:05 the overhead lights were turned off, and we got to work.
Imagine the feeling - walking in at, say, 9:06. 23 faces looking up at you, framed in the doorway.
The face with no lips was not smiling.
The second time you came in late, Mr No Lips would call you into the little private office up in front, and tell you to go home, and take the day to think about if you really wanted to to work at Harry Winston.
 

Upgradable

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David, this thread is just fascinating!! Thank you for sharing your experience and expertise!
 

Rockdiamond

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Yes, it''s been fun.
My buddy told me the story about when Donald Trump was building Trump Tower- which is diagonally across the intersection from Harry Winston- both corner buildings on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street.
Anyway, Donald Trump paid Ronnie Winston $40 million for the air rights above Winston''s building.
When Trump Tower opened, there was a Harry Winston "Petite Salon" inside.
 
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