By Michelle Graff
Leo Schachter, who started his eponymous diamond company in the 1950s, died last week at his home on New York’s Long Island. He was 95. (Photo courtesy of Leo Schachter Diamonds)
Lawrence, N.Y.—Leo Schachter, a longtime leader in the diamond industry who was known for his modesty and generosity, died Thursday at his home in Lawrence, New York.

He was 95.

Born March 19, 1924 in New York City, Schachter was a second-generation diamantaire. His father, Max Schachter, started working in the diamond business in Antwerp after moving there from Poland and continued his business on 47th Street when he came to the United States.

Leo Schachter started the company that would eventually bear his name in 1952 in New York’s Diamond District and worked in some capacity for his entire life, with his company noting that he “enjoyed his engagement with diamonds until the end.”

He grew the business from a small, New York-based operation into one of the biggest diamond companies in the world, notching numerous partnerships and opening offices in Israel, India, Hong Kong, Botswana and Japan along the way.

Leo Schachter Diamonds became a De Beers sightholder in 1966—a status it still holds today—and a designated client of Russian diamond company Alrosa in 2016.

The company partnered with brothers Avraham and Moshe Namdar in 1981 to form Schachter & Namdar, which also was one of the largest diamond companies in the world, and that partnership lasted until 2005.

Leo Schachter Diamonds entered into a joint venture with William Goldberg Diamond Corp. in 2004 under which Goldberg cut the larger diamonds Leo Schachter sourced from De Beers, and it formed a partnership with Indian firm Kama Jewels to create Kama Schachter, a finished jewelry company, in 2007.

The company also was one of the first to venture into branded diamonds, launching “The Leo Diamond” in 1999. The stone is still sold at Kay Jewelers stores today.

Several other branded diamonds followed, including the “Lve” line, an accessibly priced bridal brand created in partnership with Forevermark.

In a statement issued Monday, Leo Schachter Diamonds said its founder’s combination of dignity, modesty and generosity “serves as an inspiration for his family and friends and as a guiding light for the company that he founded and built.”

The website for the Israeli Diamond Industry also posted a notice about Schachter’s death, with Israel Diamond Institute Chairman Boaz Moldawsky writing, “For years, Leo Schachter Diamonds has employed hundreds of workers in Israel and contributed to the prosperity of the Israel diamond industry and the Israeli economy.”

“Despite its global scope, the company kept its family-style management in Israel. I send my sincere condolences to Leo’s family for their loss.”

Outside of work, Schachter—who divided his time between his home on New York’s Long Island and Jerusalem—was an ardent supporter of Zionist causes, Jewish education and charitable organizations.

A father of five, he also loved spending time with his family and would often say “Not enough!” when asked how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren he had.

Schachter is survived by his wife, Shirley; four daughters (the couple lost one daughter, Mindy) and sons-in-law; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A funeral took place Monday in Ra’anana, Israel, and the family will be sitting Shiva in Ra’anana and at the Schachter home in Lawrence.

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