LAZARE KAPLAN INTERNATIONAL INC.
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Founded in 1903, Lazare Kaplan International Inc. has an illustrious history. Building on tradition and a commitment to excellence, Lazare Kaplan has been the leader in industry innovation: the first to cut diamonds to ideal proportions, the first to laser inscribe diamonds, and the first to offer its uniquely brilliant diamond as a brand.
The Company’s founder Lazare Kaplan once said, “I am passionate about cutting each diamond as beautifully as possible.” Today the Company remains dedicated to cutting the world’s most beautiful diamonds, and continues to maintain the highest standards in the diamond industry, cutting every Lazare Diamond for optimal brilliance, scintillation and fire.
Lazare Kaplan’s diamond career began in 1897, with a six-year period of apprenticeship and training in Antwerp, Belgium. In 1903 Lazare Kaplan started his own cleaving firm that grew and prospered and he became known as one of Antwerp’s leading diamond cleavers.
In May 1906 Lazare Kaplan, his wife and one year old son Leo, was in New York visiting relatives when Belgium was invaded. He decided to stay in New York and start again.
Lazare Kaplan International Inc. (LKI) has become the premier manufacturer and marketer of diamonds in the United States and is the world’s largest manufacturer of ideal cut diamonds.
In 1917, Mr. Kaplan pioneered an apprenticeship program in Puerto Rico where he found men with superior manual dexterity and a great eagerness to learn. In this way, he launched a new industry of highly trained diamond cutters and polishers in that area. Since that time LKI has been responsible for several generations of master diamond cutters that have perpetuated the skill and dedication for the craft.
In 1919, Marcel Tolkowsky, a cousin of Lazare Kaplan, developed a mathematical formula for cutting diamonds to precise angels and proportions to gain the optimum reflection and refraction of light. Lazare Kaplan adopted this approach and the ideal cut theory was put into practice in 1919. LKI is still today devoted to the art of cutting The Lazare Diamond® – The world’s most beautiful diamonds® the same original exacting standards.
This method, based on a complex formula that measures with exacting precision a diamond’s many angels and proportions, produces a diamond that maximizes the characteristics that discerning consumers prize above all else: brilliance, sparkle and fire.
Because more of the stone must be cut away to achieve such perfection, the ideal cut is costlier than other manufacturing methods, and the manufacturing process demands a much higher level of skill on the part of the diamond cutters. So rigorous and demanding is the process that less than 1 percent of the world’s diamonds are ideal cut.
The ideal cut isn’t the only thing that differentiates Lazare Diamonds from other diamonds. On the outer perimeter of each diamond, the Lazare logo and an identification number unique to that diamond are inscribed with a laser beam. The logo serves as proof of authenticity, while the number is proof of ownership in case of loss or theft. In the early 80’s LKI co-invented this process. The inscription itself is invisible to the naked eye but can be viewed under 10-power magnification and does not affect the clarity grade of the diamond.
This laser “signature” enables LKI to market its ideal cut diamonds as a unique, brand name product known as The Lazare Diamond.
Knowing that a particular brand name represents quality and is only available through the finest jewelers makes people feel more secure in their purchases. By asking for Lazare Diamonds by name, consumers are assured of the finest quality and cut.
In 1936, Lazare Kaplan gained international fame when he successfully cut the 726-carat Jonker diamond, after a year of planning. This was an extremely complex stone, which could have been destroyed if the plans of other cutters who had examined it had been followed. The tradition of striving for the utmost skill and ingenuity in planning and cutting operations has remained the same over the years. LKI also continues to enjoy a reputation for imaginative planning, excellence and consistency of product, strict attention to quality control, precise grading and pricing and has an excellent working relationship with customers.
LKI has direct partnerships with several diamond-producing countries such as Botswana and Namibia that give us a consistent access to the most desirable rough in exchange for developing their local cutting facilities. Such arrangements give us access to top-quality rough and we insure the quality of the cut.
Also, unique among diamond companies, LKI has been publicly listed on the American Stock Exchange since 1972. Subject to stringent financial rules and regulations, LKI long ago established its reputation for commitment to the highest standards of integrity, transparency, accountability and good corporate citizenship.
In 2011 LKI has opened an office in Israel in addition to its long standing operations in New York, Antwerp, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.
Many of LKI’s senior management are on the boards of many organizations including; The Jewelers Vigilance Committee, The American Gem Society, The Women’s Jewelry Association, The Twenty-Four Karat Club, to name a few.
Lazare Kaplan International Inc. sells its diamonds and jewelry products through a worldwide distribution network. The Company is noted for its ideal cut diamonds that it markets internationally under the brand name, The Lazare Diamond®.