Sad news: Leon Finker, the inventor of the “Trillion cut”
and a mainstay of the American diamond trade for decades, died Saturday at the
age of 100.
Last year, when Finker was about to cross the 100-year mark,
I wrote a profile about him for JCK, which can be seen here.
Two things stood out: First, even though he had lived nearly a century, he was extremely
sharp, more so than many people half his age, with excellent recall of many
incidents from his past. And second — and hopefully this came across in the
article — he was a journalist’s dream, a man who had lived an amazing life and
was full of incredible stories, so much so that our first interview lasted over
two hours, and we barely made up to the 1950s. There are not many centenarians who
can recall hot-wiring a car while on the run from the Nazis. And a little later, selling diamonds for the king of Romania.
My favorite quotes of his were at the beginning and end of
the piece, and I’ll reprint them now:
Leon Finker remembers the moment he named the diamond that
he’ll always be associated with. He had just discovered a way to cut triangular
diamonds with more brilliance. One duly impressed friend told him, “This will
make you a billionaire.” Finker responded, “No. It will make me a
From that point on, the Trillion
diamond had a name.
Like many people who reach an
advanced age, [Finker] doesn’t have any particular recipe for achieving
longevity—just that he never expected it and is grateful.
“God has granted me the privilege
of a long life,” he says. “My whole family was killed during the war. So maybe
I live for them.”
Leon Finker was one of the people that made this industry
proud. Our thoughts are with his family.