David Birnbaum on "Gemstones: Business, History and Lore of the Ultimate Currency"

2011 Henry Kaufman Lecture/Symposia Series

David Birnbaum on \

Wednesday, March 9, 2011 | 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Gems have played a unique role in the history of finance, conspicuously during cycle extremes in peaks of prosperity and inflation, and in depths of financial and social chaos.

Gems were important in US history. The jewels that financed Columbus expeditions, and the beads traded for Manhattan were the SOLE source of liquidity for these transactions that reshaped the world. Beads were currency in that context because they were durable, rare enough to be valuable and had the unique characteristic of gems -- beauty and portable wealth.

David Birnbaum -- Harvard Business School MBA and founder of Rare 1, a premier contemporary private jeweler -- will discuss both the business and lore of gemstones. After giving some historic context and statistics to provide metrics on the scope of the industry and the behavior of gems both as a hedge against inflation and a store of value in deflationary times, he will also recount anecdotes about some historically important gems, dealers and collectors, current trends in the technology of cutting and the technology of man-made gems, of fashions and changing patterns of distribution and merchandising around the world.

Mr. Birnbaum will discuss the key to success in the business, which requires competence in all business skills from purchasing and production, to merchandising and financing, with the most critical skill the ability to be in tune with fashion and trends in the collective subconscious of global civilizations. Mr. Birnbaum will discuss the risks of the business, as well as the risks of investing in gems and how these risks can be mitigated. He will also provide some details about how the industry has applied modern technology to avoid supporting tyrannical regimes who sell “blood diamonds.”

Program will be followed by Q&A, reception and exhibit of rare gemstones. This event is co-presented by the Museum of American Finance and the Harvard Business School Club of New York. For more information or to RSVP for this event, call 212-908-4110.

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