By Whitney Sielaff

Several years ago at an industry dinner, Allen Brill commented to me about an obituary I had written about diamond industry legend William Goldberg. "I hope someone writes something that nice about me when I go," Allen joked. Of course I took it as a nice compliment and nothing else. Why, Allen was young, in his prime, the newly appointed president and CEO of the world's most popular luxury watch brand.

Allen was always that affable. Personally, I had met him about a decade earlier, playing tennis at an industry outing. The current president of Rolex at the time was one of the players in our group, and Allen was another. He was in a key sales position at that time. Young and ignorant as I was, I had no clue that Allen was the heir apparent. Swaggering just wasn't his style. Anyone who knew him was familiar with his easy manner. He was funny, soft-spoken and approachable, all overlaying a broad sense of self-confidence that enabled him to be a "regular guy."

He put people at ease and instilled those he spoke with with a sense of their own personal importance. After all, it was the chief of Rolex they were speaking to. He was never curt or abrupt with anyone. He had that rare sense of making everyone he spoke with feel that they had his undivided attention and that he felt their concerns were appropriate and relevant.

Last summer, at the AGS gala dinner during the New York JA Show, Allen received the association's Triple Zero award for his record of excellent service to the industry. For 10 minutes, he brought the room to laughter with a self-deprecating sense of humor that he focused on both his own accomplishments and those of the industry. Everyone left that evening remembering what a "regular guy" Allen Brill was.

I'm just always left at a lack of insights when someone like Allen is taken from us so young. What could he possibly have done to have deserved this? That's just one of those questions that can never be answered. It's just beyond us. What I do know is that there will be a gap in our lives as we go about our business in the jewelry and watch trade. Because we all know that a life well spent entails more than just doing business. It must include an enjoyment in the course of conducting that business, an enjoyment that is created by those we work alongside.

Personally, I'll really miss him. It's hard to believe he just won't be there anymore as we gather to celebrate special moments and events or during our daily business. Goodbye Allen. We've lost a "regular guy," a dear friend.

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