Remembering William Levine

William Levine, a sightholder and giant of the Chicago jewelry industry, died recently at age 93.

Levine’s company was perhaps best known as the first—and still only—American sightholder not based in New York. Grandson David Levine says his grandfather first set up camp in Chicago to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.

“He worked in his father-in-law’s diamond business in New York,” he says. “He soon recognized that my great-grandfather, while a nice person, was a terrible businessman, and the only way he could comfortably leave him was going West.”

Levine’s company helped turn Chicago into a major diamond center. David said his grandfather regularly came to work even when he was in his 90s. He remembers him as “a very generous person. Even when he had nothing he gave a lot. He was always willing to give everyone a chance, especially young people. He believed in treating everyone the same, whether it was the doorman or the biggest investment banker in Chicago.”

Levine is survived by two sons, three grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.