Dana Schorr, a Santa Barbara, Calif.–based gem dealer with decades in the industry, died on Aug. 5 following a heart attack. Online sources give his age as 63.
Schorr launched his gem company, Schorr Marketing and Sales, in 1980, an online bio says. He also served as the international representative of several gem miners and later opened a factory in Sri Lanka that cut tanzanite.
Schorr also served on the board of directors for Desert Sun Mining & Gems, which owns the Ponderosa Mine, as well as numerous committee for the American Gem Trade Association.
In the past few years, he emerged as a persistent, sharp-tongued, and sometimes surprisingly effective critic and thorn in the side of industry ethical groups and initiatives, in particular the Precious Stones Multi-Stakeholder Working Group.
“We have lost a true hero and soldier of mankind especially for the rights of the artisanal miners,” says friend Yianni Melas. “He had a bigger heart than most, fighting for what was right and not what was to be accepted.… We have lost our quarterback of true ethical gem sourcing, and it won’t be easy to replace him.”
Recalls longtime friend and traveling companion Richard Hughes: “Dana was always questioning things. He once told me it was part of his Jewish upbringing. He said that in Judaism, there was no dogma, everything was up for grabs, everything was subject to discussion and even challenge. And Dana practiced that, religiously.
“That made many people that he questioned uncomfortable, because he regularly challenged their beliefs, forcing them to look at things that they hadn’t really thought about in new ways,” he continues. “Always, the process was beneficial. Well, maybe not always, but most of the time.”