The photo above is from Bakersfield, South Africa (outside Johannesburg) dated June 15, 1928. Shmiel is standing outside a shack with his name on the front: Sam L. Kaufman. He was living in Johannesburg for a little over a year and buying rough diamonds from the alluvial field diggers. Once he bought the rough it was then shipped by boat to Antwerp. That took two weeks!


Shmiel and Moishe are deciding how to cut an approximately 300 carat rough diamond. Below, Shmiel is showing the two halves after it was sawn but before it was polished.


River Diamonds has been in business for four generations. Our company was started in 1907 by Chaim Kaufman upon his immigration to Antwerp from Galicia. Chaim’s sons soon entered the business: Aron in 1914 at the age of 12; Shmiel in 1923 at the age of 16; and Moishe at the age of 16 in 1928. They all eventually came to New York and worked together until 1948 when Aron  started his own company together with his sons. Chaim and his other sons became C. S. & M. Kaufman. Shmiel worked until his death in 1992 and Moishe worked until his death in 2000. Our company is currently comprised of Moishe’s son Arthur (who entered into the business in 1960) Shmiel’s son Abe (who joined in 1963), and Abe’s son David (who came into the business in 1993).

Moishe recalls Chaim’s first years in the diamond business in an interview with Renee Rose Shield, Ph. D. in the following excerpt from her book Diamond Stories: Enduring Change on 47th Street:
“Before I started, my father made his office at home; he worked out of his home. He was manufacturing, he was giving out on contract to Belgian cutters who came over to the house, and then he would go for a few hours to the bourse in Antwerp and do his trading there. But actually he worked out of his house; he did his sorting; he had one room set aside for that. And it worked; it was an office. There was a desk, a roll top desk I remember. And he worked there. I remember him sitting all hours, sometimes until 10 at night, and he would sort. He manufactured very small goods, which required a lot of detailed work.”
A Note on the Name “River”
Before the era of gemological reports, dealers used many terms to describe color including “blue white”, “wesselton”, and “top silver”. “River” was the term Tiffany used for describing the finest white color.
By Renee Rose Shield
Enduring change on 47th Street 
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