Premier International Jewelry
Conflict-free gem sourcing: How jewelry artist Zoltan David ensures his work holds beauty & positive energy
When jewelry artist Zoltan David talks about his work, he often references the energy of the pieces he creates. He knows that his work is being given or received as a gift of love, and it’s important to him that it holds positive energy. Zoltan’s passion and commitment to integrity is something that sets his work apart, and his goal of instilling positive energy into his pieces guides him at every step, starting at the very beginning of his process: gem sourcing.
The clean background of a gemstone is one of Zoltan’s twin pillars of sourcing a gem — clients develop relationships with their gemstones, and it’s important the stones don’t carry any baggage or negative karma with them. This is a hefty goal when you are dealing in the world of rare and expensive gemstones, an industry that can be rife with illegal trades involving diamonds and gemstones for weapons, in war zones or even for terrorist means.
To ensure that all of his gemstones and diamonds are conflict-free, Zoltan has spent years developing relationships and getting to know his sources. He sources from mines he knows well, and that are eco-responsible. He makes sure that each diamond he receives not only comes with conflict-free documentation (every diamond legally coming into the U.S. is screened through the “Kimberly Process” to avoid conflict diamonds entering), but — since the “Kimberly Process” is not a perfect system — Zoltan requires an additional paper-trail that reinforces the diamonds lack of illicit background.
The structure of his sourcing process is like a chef getting to know the farmer who supplies his meat, to ensure it is organic and humanely raised. It’s an ongoing process that requires transparency, deep engagement, a commitment to ideals, and years of trust and experience.
Early in his career, Zoltan spent a considerable amount of time traveling to places like Pakistan, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka, seeking out miners and gem cutters with honor and integrity with whom he could build lasting relationships. “All of my gemstone sourcing has been screened and refined over a period of 40 years” explains Zoltan, “the gem cutters and dealers I work with know me well — they know my standards. They will send me a $100,000 or $200,000 gem just for me to review.”
The integrity with which Zoltan sources his gems comes as second nature to him. He describes offers he often gets, like a recent offer from Burmese military folks trying to sell him extremely rare rubies. While the selling price was shockingly low, Zoltan knew the rubies were far from conflict-free and wouldn’t so much as give them the time of day. “I actually have no interest in that kind of stuff,” he says. “It comes back around to that personal relationship the client will have with their gem — what it symbolizes and what it means. That whole aspect of it is very, very important to me.”
The second pillar of gem sourcing, says Zoltan, is knowledge about the gems. There are so many different grades of gemstones, and — even within the same type — vast variations in quality and rarity of gemstones. Different hardnesses, colors, and makes are just a few of the things that can set gemstones apart from each other. It takes seeing and working with thousands of gemstones to be able to develop a yardstick to see where they land in the world of value.
For each gem he works with, Zoltan has a checklist, a nuanced list of things that is needed for the gem to qualify as a thing of beauty. “I’m looking for something beautiful that I don’t have to make excuses for,” he says.
Take sapphire, for example. A lot of blue sapphire is inky, explains Zoltan. Often you are unable to even tell it’s blue unless you get it under the right light. Blue sapphire grows in such a way that most crystals have extinction — that is, when you turn it in a certain direction it will go black on you. When Zoltan sources a blue sapphire, he doesn’t want to see any extinction: he looks for a full saturation of color, cut in a way that it shines brilliantly.
“That kind of knowledge just comes with time,” says Zoltan. Luckily, with a renowned career that has spanned over four decades, Zoltan has had plenty of time to refine his gem sourcing skills. The result is that each of his pieces features not only stunning, unique work by a talented, award-winning artist, but gems that carry both beauty and positive energy.