Last week, we lost one of the nicest men in the diamond industry, Joseph Schlussel, publisher of the Diamond Registry Bulletin.
Joe was a gentle, devout and profoundly decent man, but beneath the grandfatherly exterior was an astute businessman with firm convictions. An immigrant from Hungary, Joseph and his family survived the Holocaust by hiding in a bunker underneath his house. And while it was quite difficult – his family almost starved to death – he also knew he was one of the lucky ones. (His story of survival is here.)
Joe started as a dealer but, in his later years, made a good living servicing the “privates” who found his web site. In the trade press, he is probably best known for producing one of the first publications devoted to the diamond industry, the Diamond Registry Bulletin.
Joe started the Bulletin in 1968 and kept it going for 40 years, an amazing run for a newsletter. The Bulletin covered the 70s investment craze, the 80s crash, on through “conflict diamonds,” “Supplier of Choice,” and the current downturn — but always with a folksy touch that exhorted the industry to remember, and retain, what was good and unique about it. His editorials referenced everything from the New York Times to Yiddish folk tales. My favorite feature he did was “It Was the Year In Which …,” where he would point out two contradictory occurrences. He said this grew out of his Talmudic training, which enables you to see both sides of an argument.
Recent issues talked about staying positive amid the current bad news – wise words from a man who had been through a lot, yet never lost his warmth and good humor. He recently wrote that we should consider ourselves fortunate we are in this business. Certainly, the business was fortunate it had Joe.
Joe has been so much a part of my diamond industry experience that it’s hard to believe he’s gone. He was a friend and a very special man and I will miss him.