Antwerp: Sir Gabriel “Gabi” Tolkowsky, one of the world’s most revered diamond cutters, has died at 84, friends and family wrote on social media on Monday.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1939, Tolkowsky was from a family steeped in the diamond industry. He learned the trade from father, Jean, who had a diamond-polishing factory in Israel — an education that would set him up for a career manufacturing some of the world’s most famous diamonds.
The global diamond manufacturing community mourns the death of the incomparable Gabi Tolkowsky, who was a “pioneer and a master craftsman who understood the wonder of diamonds like few other people.” (Quote from De Beers)
More than diamonds, Gabi understood people and how diamonds can enthuse and excite people. Of course, Gabi the diamond expert will be missed and eulogized by many. His professional record, achievements, and milestones remain unparalleled.
However, those privileged to spend time with him will miss Gabi for his warm personality and big heart. Whether you met him by chance ‘on the street,’ i.e., the Hoveniersstraat in Antwerp’s diamond quarter, at an industry event, or, in earlier days, at a trade show, he would give you his full attention and have a meaningful conversation.
Those privileged to spend quality time with him would enjoy exchanges beyond diamonds, as he was well-read and shared broad interests, knowledge, and expertise.
Gabi’s artistic personality and soul made us not only see the magic of a diamond but also enabled us to hear it. The reflection and refraction characteristics of a diamond define the unique pattern that identifies the unique optical signature of a diamond. Gabi found that this signature can be converted into a unique sound pattern, producing the “song of a diamond.”
In an interview in the year 2000 with Rob Bates of JCK, he said: “’I was talking to my wife about diamond cutting,’ remembers the famed cutter, who is best known for fashioning the 273-ct. De Beers Centenary. ‘I said, Diamond cutting has so many aspects to it, so many variations, it’s like making music. Then it hit me. Music is a wonderful thing. It’s the language of the world. Why can’t a diamond give off music?’ Most people would’ve blamed the idea on oxygen deprivation, but the more Tolkowsky thought about it, the more it made sense. ‘What is light but waves?’ he notes. ‘So can’t a diamond send back sound waves, too?’ Apparently, it can—with the help of technology. He premiered his first ‘compositions’ to a rapt audience at a JCK show in Orlando.”
The IDMA board, members, and staff send their heartfelt condolences to Gabi’s family, friends, and colleagues. May his memory be a blessing to all who loved and cherished him.