Moshe Schnitzer, one of the founding fathers of the Israeli diamond industry and past chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute, died on August 16, 2007, at the age of 86.
Schnitzer was born in Chernowitz, Romania, in 1921 and immigrated to Israel in 1934. In 1942, he began his career in the diamond industry as a diamond cutter. With a partner, he opened Schnitzer-Greenstein in 1952 and opened his own firm, M. Schnitzer & Co., in 1980. In 1947, Schnitzer was one of the founding members of the fledgling Israel Diamond Exchange, and became one of the leading proponents of the expansion and development of the exchange.
From 1967 to 1993, he served as president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, during which time polished diamond exports rose from $200 million to $3.4 billion a year. Schnitzer served as president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses from 1968 to 1972 and again from 1978 to 1982. He was voted lifelong honorary president of the WFDB in 1982, and lifelong honorary president of the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1994.
WFDB president Ernest Blom says that, in many ways, the modern diamond trade is his legacy. “Moshe Schnitzer was a visionary. After laying the foundation in Israel for what would grow, largely according to his plan, into one of the world’s most important diamond centers, he turned his attention to the WFDB and the international diamond trade. He realized that our strength lay in our ability to complement one another, working together as an international network of colleagues, rather than as competitors. Generations of diamantaires from all over the world considered him a mentor and a leader.”
Schnitzer was responsible for establishing the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Museum in Ramat Gan and served as its chairman until 2003. In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for his life’s work and contribution to the state of Israel. The official announcement of the prize stated: “Moshe Schnitzer is identified more than anyone else with the Israel diamond industry, and his vision and personality have contributed greatly to Israel’s stature in the world.”
He is survived by his three children, Hanna Gertler, Etty Yovel, and Shmuel Schnitzer and their families. His son Shmuel also served as president of the Israel Diamond Exchange and of the WFDB.