GASSAN receives KLM house in honor of its 75th anniversary

On the occasion of KLM's 102nd anniversary GASSAN Diamonds recently welcomed about thirty national and international journalists to the diamond cutting factory at the head office. Extra special, because this historic GASSAN building served as a model for a special KLM house that was built by the family business for the 75th anniversary of the family business. KLM is designed. High time to look back at how it all started. Text: Patrick Stoffer
Image: GASSAN In 1925, at the age of 15, Samuel Gassan started his first job on Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat in Amsterdam, as a cutter in the largest steam diamond cutting factory in Europe. The monumental building, built in a sober neoclassical style based on a design by architect JW Meijer, is truly a 'miracle of technical ingenuity' in 1879.

Samuel Gassan who try to keep as many rough diamonds as possible with as little loss as possible. Samuel saws those cutting surfaces into a basic shape: round, oval, square or elongated. His father Eliazer Gassan, who also works in the Boas building as a diamond worker, then extracts the most beautiful possible version of himself from each rough diamond. The stone has 57 facets, applied according to a mathematical calculation so that it reflects light optimally. In the diamond world, the refraction of light is also called 'fire'. And exactly that holy fire also burns in Samuel. Just as a rough diamond finds its shape with utmost dedication, the character of his eldest son also develops.

After an eventful war period, Samuel Gassan started a new company in October 1945, the name of which would later change to Gassan Diamonds. From that moment on, he regularly travels through Europe again, now with a suitcase of rough and cut diamonds, colored gemstones and jewelry. He helped revive the Amsterdam diamond industry, which was destroyed by the war, in 1949 with the international exhibition Amsterdam Diamond City. For the occasion, he had a wooden statue of the Amsterdam City Virgin carved, with the famous Ashberg diamond of 102,48 carats in her fingers, which was once part of the Russian crown jewels and worth more than 400.000 guilders. A year later, Samuel Gassan starts a diamond cutting factory on Zwanenburgerstraat in addition to the import and export of stones. In 1955 the company moved to the Nieuwe Achtergracht, directly opposite the Amsterdam diamond exchange. He proudly has his initials SG engraved in the ironwork in front of the windows. Business is going well, especially since Gassan is also going to focus on selling diamonds to tourists. His daughter Anita gives tours, but has no ambition to succeed her father. She will study law and will later become a juvenile judge and vice president of the Amsterdam court. Although Gassan Diamonds continues to grow, the founder prefers to travel the world himself in search of customers. He prefers to fly first class, so that he can enthuse his fellow passengers on board about the magical appeal of diamonds. In 1973, his grandson Benno Leeser joined Gassan Diamonds, followed seven years later by his brother Guy. In 1983, the men officially took over the life's work of their flamboyant grandfather. Until his death, Samuel Gassan lived alternately on the Côte d'Azur and in the Netherlands. But it was hardly possible to distance himself, he had grown too much with the company for that. With just a swimming diploma and a good dose of Amsterdam swagger, he developed into a man of the world who laid the foundation for a typical Amsterdam diamond empire.

The sky's the limit

However, the anniversary year of 2020, in which the company's 75th anniversary would be celebrated, is overshadowed by the corona pandemic. All festivities are cancelled. None of the 500 employees need to be fired, and everything is being done to stay afloat. Online sales are getting a big boost. Gassan Diamonds is expanding its range with vintage watches from luxury brands and is profiling itself in the anniversary year with the new high-end brand Trophy by Gassan. With customized high-quality jewelry, which can be personalized to your own design, the company stays ahead of the competition. The sky's the limit. And this also applies to the dedication with which around 2020 drivers delivered a total of 30 packages with orders in the last weeks of 3.200. Whatever storm arises... the spirit of Samuel Gassan and the business instincts of his descendants are the best guarantee for a bright future.

For more information about the stories behind the KLM houses, including the Gassan Diamonds special, read here.