Robert Speisman Remembered

Our industry lost a great friend in the Sept. 11 tragedies when the flight Robert Speisman was on was hijacked and transformed into a terrorist weapon. I’d like to share one memory of the personable and decent man that he was.

Bob was Lazare Kaplan’s marketing manager and was at the center of the critical firestorm surrounding the launch of LKI/GE treated diamonds three years ago. They named them Pegasus then, Bellataire now.

Whenever I’d call him—and it seemed as if that’s all the trade press covered back then—he’d sound battle-weary, complaining about “you guys in the press” asking accusatory questions and taking his words out of context. But he did it with such humor and charm—always prefacing his complaints with “I’m not talking about you, Russ, but some of these others …”—that we shared some good laughs about it. He had no malice, no anger. He just wanted people to be fair. He talked a lot about that, saying the only way for people to discern the truth is for us in the press to present it accurately.

He was loyal to LKI but, in the interest of fairness, could see the objections some might have to the way the product was introduced. He tried patiently to respond to those objections and seemed genuinely pleased when someone actually listened.

Despite the brickbats, he was always upbeat and sincerely positive, which made it a pleasure to do business with him or just have a friendly chat. We’ll miss him.