The art and science of gemology is still a relatively new field in the jewelry industry. It only began in the 19th century and, even then, becoming a qualified gemologist didn’t occur until 1908 in Great Britain. The United States didn’t get its first certification courses until 1929 through the Gemological Institute of America. That is why it is with a heavy heart that this Scottsdale gemologist is sad to report that renowned jewelry designer and gemologist, Alan H. Friedman, died last month of a heart attack. Although he may not be terribly well-known outside of the jewelry industry, his death still presents a heavy impact on the world.
THE START OF A GEMOLOGY LEGEND
It seems that Friedman was always destined to become a jeweler. Most of his family worked in the jewerly industry and his father owned the renowned Borsheim’s Jewelry Store, one of the largest stores in the nation at the time. Friedman later started working at the store when he was five-years-old by cleaning displays. At 10, he began assisting in sales at the jewelry store and became known for helping customers choose exactly what they wanted.
When his family sold their store to Warren Buffett, Friedman shifted his interests from selling jewelry to collecting and designing it. Later, in his college years, Friedman chose to study gemology at the Gemological Institute of America.
BEVERLY HILLS AND “THE KING OF PINKS”
In 1993, the gemologist and his wife, Layna, opened their first jewelry design and showroom in Beverly Hills, quite a leap of faith for someone relatively young to the jewelry industry. Within a few short years, Friedman’s designs became well-received by the industry and were featured in high-end stores across the country.
It was during this portion of his career that Friedman became known for his work with natural colored diamonds and gems, especially pink diamonds. This brought about the nickname “the King of Pinks” within the jewelry industry, a name that stuck for the rest of his life.
AWARDS AND WORLD RECOGNITION
The gemologist also became a well-known figure for designing celebrity jewelry. Many of his clients (and repeat clients) over the years included Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Lady Gaga.
Friedman also won numerous awards for his unique designs, including the distinguished 2003 “Best of Show” award at the American Gem Trade Association’s Spectrum Awards.
A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE
Perhaps one of the most inspiring aspects of Friedman’s career–and the one that will be missed most–was his innate ability to work with clients. As stated earlier, the gemologist honed these talents when working for his family’s jewelry store and he later began applying these to his custom design clients. During an interview with InStory Magazine, Friedman talked about his design process. He stated that he designed each item “for the one person he believes is destined to fall in love with it.” He never worried about the jewelry’s appeal to the masses and this is what set him apart from many of his contemporaries.