Maarten de Witte
Maarten has over 35 years experience in the diamond trade – ranging from the solitary craftsman's bench to the global community of cyberspace. He started as an apprentice of Leonard Ludel at the American School of Diamond Cutting – the first fully accredited vocational school of its kind in America.
Maarten's passion is for excellence as an artisan, merchant and teacher. His career spans the realms of trade work, retail, wholesale, branding, training, research and development. He is currently most avid about creating new diamond designs.
Diamonds may seem a strange attraction for a boy from Illinois, but Maarten honed his art from a hometown base in Urbana, where he was sole-proprietor of The Diamond Workshop for over 20 years.
In 1983, he earned admission to the American Gem Society (AGS) as Registered Jeweler. A year later he was awarded the title of Gemologist by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and Certified Gemologist (AGS). Along the way, his academic interest in the diamond trade led to a BA in African History and an MS in Minerals Geography from the University of Illinois.
While specializing in the restoration and/or modernization of broken and old-fashioned cut diamonds, Maarten developed (1993) a series of fancy-cut round brilliants known as Rose Brilliant© and Star Brilliant© diamonds. These matched traditional rose cut patterns on a diamond's crown with a modern round brilliant pavilion in order to optimize each diamond's display of spectral colors.
After 25 years as a diamond appraiser, broker, cutter and designer in the Midwest, Maarten moved to Boston to help launch Hearts On Fire Company (HOF), literally playing the lead role in creating the award-winning consumer video – The Art of Diamond Cutting. He served as their Diamond Wizard®, International Sales Trainer and Director of Research until 2009.
Maarten has demonstrated the art of cutting fine diamonds and lectured on diamonds throughout the US and around the world. He is the author of Diamonds and Development: A case study of Botswana (1989).
In 2003, Maarten became a Graduate Gemologist (GIA). In 2004, he was a featured speaker at the First International Diamond Cut Conference in Moscow. He was a founding member of the Fancy Cut Grade Task Force of the American Gem Society (AGS) which established scientific criteria for the performance grading of fancy shaped diamonds. He currently serves on their Gemological Sciences Committee.
Samples of Maarten's musings on the diamond trade can be seen at www.diamondwiz.blogspot.com.
Visit Maarten's Facebook Page.
Mickey fixed diamonds for Arizona jewelers even before he graduated as a Journeyman Diamond Cutter from the American School of Diamond Cutting in 1974. He is expert in all phases of diamond production including rough selection, planning, marking, shaping, cutting & polishing and final assessment – from round brilliants to the most complicated fancy shapes.
In 1977, shortly after earning Certification in Diamonds from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Mickey and fellow diamond cutter Danny McDonald established Brookshire McDonald Inc. in Phoenix. Their firm maintained an excellent reputation for fine craftsmanship as Arizona's only diamond cutting facility.
Mickey is uniquely talented in sourcing rough diamond crystals. His in-depth knowledge has literally been gained from the ground up. As early as 1978, Mickey began a lifetime project of exploring alluvial mining sites around the world with extensive travel to the indigenous diggings of West Africa.
As one of a select few fully-licensed diamond buyers in the 1980's, Mickey freely traded with diggers throughout Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. His persistence effectively shored-up their connections to wider global markets. In the process he gained precious hands-on expertise in excavating, panning, and dredging – the three back-breaking chores of alluvial prospecting – from the dry Marrikia Pit in Tongo, to the banks of the Sewa and Moa River, to 80 feet beneath the surface of the Bafi River.
In 1994, at the onset of civil strife and open warfare in Sierra Leone, Mickey moved operations to Guinea, complete with backhoes, larger-scale sluices and heavy media separation jigs. With a small buying office in Antwerp, he traded rough in Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Venezuela and Brazil.
Mickey has always remained very active in Arizona. In 1978, he trained his brother Jerry and brought him into the trade as a highly-skilled diamond cutter. Jerry went on to become the principal cutter at EightStar® diamonds, before returning to focus primarily on precision specialty cuts. With a fully-staffed and inventoried shop in Scottsdale, Mickey has long catered to discriminating clients throughout the US.
Mickey is a true pioneer and innovator. He has cut native diamond crystals from Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds and Colorado's Kelsey Lake Mine as well as the full range of Canadian diamonds. He was the first to cut gem quality lab-grown diamonds from Japan, and the first to cut a LifeGem diamond. He most recently put a finishing touch to the culet of the famous Archduke Joseph Diamond.
Today, Mickey is most excited about the future of new diamond designs. He has already fine-tuned the Bullseye Cut© and his work with the domed-series Celebration Cut diamonds continues to push the envelope of diamond beauty.