Samuel Gassan opens his first diamond cutting and polishing atelier in 1945
Gassan Diamonds was founded by Mr Samuel Gassan in October 1945. The company’s activities included diamond cutting and polishing. Gassan also imported and exported cut and loose diamonds, coloured gemstones and jewelry. Gassan Diamonds engaged in both wholesale and retail trading. Tourists from every imaginable country in the world came to see the polishers at their craft in Amsterdam. Samuel Gassan found that tourists were encouraged to buy diamonds if they were offered information on diamonds and the craft of diamond cutting. As a result, Gassan Diamonds has welcomed tourists at its factory since 1955, a formula that has proven immensely successful and still is.
Still a family-owned company
Samuel Gassan passed away in 1983. The impressive company has since been owned and run by his two grandsons, Benno and Guy Leeser. Benno Leeser is the eldest grandson and started working for the company in 1973. He is now the Managing Director, based at the company head office in Amsterdam. Guy Leeser joined the company 1980 and works at the New York office. On 1 November 2011 Benno Leeser became the sole shareholder of the Gassan Group.
Due to the company’s steadfast growth, it required a bigger location in 1990. Gassan Diamonds B.V. moved into a historic diamond factory in which the machines were primarily powered by steam. The 5,000 square metre building is located at the centre of Amsterdam. In the past few years, the factory has welcomed some 350,000 tourists each year.
International marketing activities and wholesale expansion helped the company to grow successful. The first foreign office was opened in Antwerp, Belgium*, in 1952. New offices were inaugurated in Pforzheim and Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1959. New branches joined the company in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1960, in Zug, Switzerland, in 1966, and in New York*, USA, in 1980. A representative was employed in Tokyo* in 1967 to promote the company in Japan.
Encouraged by the slow but steady growth of tourist sales, the company turned to Amsterdam Airport in 1967. The airport hosted the first duty-free diamond seller*. Gassan Plaza* was opened at Schiphol Plaza, the airport’s shopping centre, in 1995. Gassan Plaza sells a broad collection of watches, jewelry and fashion jewelry. In the last quarter of 2008, Gassan Plaza opened the doors of its newly renovated shop in line with a completely new shop concept.
In the fall of 1992 Gassan Schiphol B.V. opened its first duty-free jewelry shop abroad at London Heathrow, Terminal 3. In 1995 and 1996 watch and jewelry shops were opened in Terminals 1 and 2, respectively. A diamond shop was established in Terminal 4. 1997 witnessed the establishment of two ‘Swatch Shops’ at Schiphol and another one at Schiphol Plaza*. Gassan Diamonds also opened an after-sales office in Beijing*, China, and another one in Indonesia in the same year. Three after-sales offices were established in Bangkok, Thailand, and Hong Kong*. In recent years, two more Swatch Shops were opened in the duty-free area*. Gassan established the first Guess shop at Schiphol Plaza in 2002. In September 1999 Gassan Schiphol B.V. opened Pens and Watches Shops in Piers E and F*. Naturally, a jewelry shop was established in Pier D* as well, in 2000. Early in 2007, Gassan inaugurated the first Rolex Boutique* run by a retailer other than Rolex on an airport outside Switzerland. Since the beginning of 2008, Gassan Diamonds opened five new shops at Changi Airport in Singapore, including a Rolex boutique. In December 2008 Gassan Diamonds established the first and only jewelry shop at London City Airport*. A Gassan Trends shop was opened at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Schiphol in 2011.
The locations marked with * are still owned and run by Gassan Diamonds.
Gassan diamonds: its operations
Gassan Diamonds currently employs some 500 people. Its operations vary from diamond cutting and polishing to wholesale and retail trading of loose cut diamonds. Gassan also sells gold and diamond jewelry and watches, and designs its own jewelry collections, including Gassan 121, Gassan junior, Gassan Special Moments, Gassan Haute Joaillerie, and the Guy David watch collection.