Obituary: William Goldberg

William Goldberg, former president of the New York Diamond Dealers Club and a legend of the New York diamond industry, died recently after a brief illness.

Gemological Institute of America (GIA) president William E. Boyajian announced Goldberg’s death during the GIA’s Legion of Honor dinner.

With his big frame, gravelly voice, brown fedora, and free-flowing white hair (later trimmed), Goldberg was an unmistakable presence on 47th Street. He was also something of a media darling, appearing on the cover of New York Newsday‘s Sunday magazine and TV programs ranging from 60 Minutes to Prime Time Live, frequently declaring his love for the diamond business and the people in it.

Goldberg started in the business as an apprentice. “I was a terrible cutter,” he told Russell Shor in Connections: A Profile of Diamond People and Their History, “but I was good at merchandising. So I started doing tapered baguettes and selling them in matched pairs, and went up and down 47th Street promoting them. … Business in those days was much easier, much more stable. … You knew your supplier or customer today would be your supplier or customer tomorrow.”

Even so, Goldberg’s company changed with the times, later becoming a sightholder and among the largest on 47th Street. Backed by the memorable slogan, “The magic is in the make,” Goldberg was known for cutting larger stones, including a 137-ct. D-flawless pear shape and the 89-ct. D-flawless Guinea Star.

Goldberg served as president of the New York Diamond Dealers Club for six years during the 1980s and later served as treasurer. He was also inducted into the Diamond Industry Hall of Fame.

“Bill Goldberg was one of the giants of our industry,” says current DDC president Jacob Banda. “He helped many people throughout their careers and inspired many of us to achieve excellence not just in the diamond world but throughout our lives. His innumerable good deeds include visiting the sick, devotion to educational causes, and support for needy people.”