“All diamonds shine – but some shine better than others.”
Thousands of beloved clients have heard me say this. My family smiles to hear me repeat it so often but what can I say? I have five generations of diamond dust in my blood.
My name is Brian Gavin and I am a diamond designer and cutter. I am descended from a line of master cutters including my grandfather, the renowned Barend Deutz of Amsterdam and Majestic Diamond Cutting Works in Johannesburg, South Africa. A giant among cutters, he handed me diamond rough instead of marbles to play with as a child. My earliest memories, before I could walk, are sitting at the polishing wheel with him and my father, seeing the craft that would become my life’s work.
I grew up on the African continent, fully immersed in the robust diamond trade. I attended the University of Witswatersrand and CLC in London, receiving a degree in Marketing Management, and as part of my South African heritage I served with a signals unit in the national defense force – but my passion has always been diamonds. My apprenticeship took me to many centers of influence, where I made many friends and colleagues. As a young cutter I found great beauty and beneficiation in my chosen profession. I also witnessed the terrible injustices occurring in those turbulent times. In the early 1980’s I was held at gunpoint in Angola because I refused to do business with illicit traders outside my known circle. This, in no small part, influenced the decision to take my family, and my dreams, to a safer haven.
In 1985 I emigrated to America with my wife Dana and infant son Daniel and established a small cutting operation in Houston, Texas. I began supplying high-end retailers with ideal cuts, which were hard to come by in those days. I quickly gained a reputation for extremely high standards thanks to my family training. In the 1990’s I was introduced to the new “Hearts & Arrows” style of cutting, developed in Japan. Unlike most traditionalists, I began incorporating their advanced tools and techniques into my classical approach. I was ecstatic when I saw this modern tooling and precision, coupled with five-generations of traditional knowledge, would result in a line of diamonds with unsurpassed beauty and identical visual appearance. I immediately conceived-of and designed the ‘A Cut Above’ hearts and arrows brand.
In 1997 I branded my very first ‘A Cut Above’ diamonds in my company, Alpha Creations Inc. My wife Dana, a nationally recognized educational consultant, joined me in the business and we worked together to introduce the ‘A Cut Above’ diamonds to retailers across the country. My retail clients received this new production enthusiastically. Exceeding my expectations for success, demand started outgrowing my ability to supply. With careful scrutiny I explored the ability to produce these gems to my standards with long-standing family contacts. My timing was perfect. One of Antwerp’s preeminent sightholders needed guidance in areas of my specialty and I became their fine-make consultant. In return they agreed to supply me with production meeting my specific requirements, from which I would select the diamonds worthy of being branded ‘A Cut Above.’ I began regular visits to Antwerp to refine and select this production.
Alpha Creations Inc., our wholesale company, had a B2B web site, but consumers started hitting it, requesting to buy ‘A Cut Above’ diamonds on line. As the world of the internet was such an unknown in those days and because of her concerns re: privacy, being the mother of four children, Dana adopted the well known name ‘Lesley Harris’ and we tested this approach until July of 2000. Seeing the power of the internet, it was my hope to bring ‘A Cut Above’ directly to consumers. To this end I partnered with investors who had the financial strength to establish an advanced website and we co-founded the company Whiteflash.com. Armed with this new vehicle and a selection of ‘A Cut Above’ diamonds we launched Whiteflash in 2000 and began selling direct to consumers. This brought me great joy, as I take great pleasure in meeting with clients to explore their love of diamonds.
It was a wonderful feeling to have the freedom and ability to grow my brand. And grow it did. In the next five years Whiteflash.com realized unprecedented growth. We opened a fully equipped jewelry workshop and sales offices and what had begun as a company of four people grew to over 30. During these years my ‘A Cut Above’ diamonds were constantly singled out for quality. As a result I was invited to give a presentation on the creation of “Hearts & Arrows” diamonds at the International Diamond Cut Conference in Moscow, Russia, 2004. I had the good fortune to enter into service as a consultant for industry entities, major laboratories and diamond factories on three continents. At the same time the catalog and custom offerings at Whiteflash were celebrated along with ‘A Cut Above’ and the company was hailed by Kiplinger’s Financial Magazine as “Lord Of The Online Rings.”