Henry Grossbard, 79, credited with inventing the radiant diamond, was run down by a hit-and-run driver April 23 near is home in Hoboken, N.J.
Grossbard, a native of Vienna who emigrated during World War II, devised the cut in 1976. The radiant received one of the first patents ever issued for a diamond cut.
Grossbard was killed recently after returning from the American Gem Society Conclave. Grossbard and his wife, Gertrude, reportedly moved to Hoboken from Queens five months ago in order to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Police are searching for the driver of a late-model Honda Odyssey, the car believed to have killed Grossbard on a Saturday night while he was walking his dog at Third Street and Sinatra Drive, The Jersey Journal reports. The silver or light gray Honda Odyssey should have extensive damage to the front portion of the vehicle and possibly the front windshield. Police believe the car was traveling at twice the speed limit of 20 mph when it struck Grossbard.
Anyone with information about the vehicle or the accident should call Hoboken Police Sgt. Mike Costello at (201) 420-2110. Police said all information will be confidential.
Grossbard had been cutting diamonds for thirty years when he made the discovery that turned him into a legend. He recently told JCK, he did it, primarily, to stand out from the crowd.
“I always wanted to have my own special edge or niche,” he said. “I never wanted to do what everyone else did. I wanted to do something different.”
Creating this was no small task. For two months Grossbard experimented, using actual diamonds as expensive guinea pigs. “I never used a drafting paper or pencil,” he said. “I didn’t use math. I used diamonds.”
Once he created his new shape, his second achievement was to tweak it so that color could either be emphasized or de-emphasized. “Cutters usually cut the stone to reduce the color, to make a J-color stone look white so it can face up better than its body color,” he told JCK. But for fancy-color stones you want to increase the color—and with radiants, you can. As a result, most fancy yellows, in particular, are cut as radiants.
Grossbard knew he had something. But he was missing a name. That came from an uncle in the business. “I was in Los Angeles, and I got a phone call, waking me up at six in the morning,” he said. “My uncle said, ‘I have the perfect name for you: the radiant cut.’ And I knew that was it.”
The cut really gained traction when Van Cleef & Arpels began featuring it in its ads. “That put me on the map,” Grossbard said. “Every jeweler said that if Van Cleef did it, there might be something to it.”
Grossbard was born in Vienna prior to World War II. When the Nazis invaded Austria, his family escaped across the border to Paris, and eventually to non-occupied (Vichy) France. Since his father had a German passport, he was sent to a work camp.
Grossbard, who spoke French, helped internees with translations when they went to the American Embassy.
In 1941, he and his sister arrived in America without their parents. Grossbard was only 16, had few relatives in the United States, and didn’t speak much English. He stayed for several months with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society—to which he contributed to the end of his life. Eventually he was able to get his parents visas. Relatives set him up in the diamond business.
He was devoted to the diamond business till the end, still coming into work six days a week as he approached his eighties.
“I love diamonds,” he told JCK. “I like the material. To me, it’s like marble to a sculptor. I know what it can do, and I know what I can do with it. That’s why I’m here, and not in Florida.”
Grossbard is survived by his wife, Gertrude; a son, Stanley; a daughter, Rebecca; and two grandchildren, Jacob and Alexander. Funeral services were held Wednesday.
JCKinterviewed Henry Grossbard for a profile shortly before his sudden death. The profile is scheduled to appear in the magazine’s June issue.