Late last month, the diamond world lost one of its truest legends. On May 26th, 2012, Jacques Roisen passed away at the age of 91 in New York. Roisen’s contributions to the diamond industry read like a genuine who’s who, but perhaps the one of which he is proudest is that he served as an esteemed member of the 24 Karat Club.
The mission of the 24 Karat Club is to foster the interests of the jewelry industry by forming a fellowship uniting men and women within the industry and kindred trades in the belief and practice that the greatest values are to be found in raising the quality of human relationships. Having fled to the United States from Europe during World War II, Roisen recognized the full pricelessness of such relationships.
Beyond that, his resume includes impressive stints as president of both the Diamond Manufacturers & Importers Association of America (DMIA), the leading organization of America’s premier diamond manufacturers, importers, and dealers, and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association (IDMA), which is committed to fostering and promoting the highest ideals of honesty and best practice principles throughout the diamond industry worldwide. In his lifetime, both associations honored Roisen with an honorary life president designation. In addition, he served as co-chair of the Diamond Industry Steering Committee (DISC).
In the early 1920s, when Roisen was born in Antwerp, Belgium, the Art Deco style of jewelry was quickly becoming all the rage in the U.S. During this decade, which would come to be called “The Roaring Twenties,” society railed against not only the strict Victorian taboos that had been forced upon them but also prohibition.
The free living and decadence that resulted from such rebellion filtered into the Art Deco jewelry style, whose hallmarks were geometry, symmetry, and boldness of design and color. It is during this timeframe that diamonds first appeared in the never-before-seen emerald, pear, and marquise cuts that are so popular today.