From Antwerp to OKC: A History with Lazare

Attention to detail, and a love for family: these are the shared values of the B.C. Clark and Lazare Kaplan families. Our relationship spans nearly eight decades. But very few of our customers know just how special this relationship truly is. Yes, the Lazare Collection is quite stunning, but the family behind these amazing diamonds is equally impressive.

The Kaplan and Clark Stories Share Many Parallels

1903Lazare Kaplan descended from three generations of jewelers. Born in 1883, it was at his uncle’s diamond cutting factory in Belgium that he began his apprenticeship at the age of 13.  In 1903, at the age of 20, Lazare Kaplan started his own diamond business that grew and prospered. He quickly became known as one of Antwerp’s leading diamond cleavers.

It was during Lazare’s rise to prominence in the diamond community that another visionary, Benton Clyde Clark, was making a name for himself halfway around the world, in Purcell, Indian Territory.

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By the early 1900s, both of these jewelry pioneers were beginning to broaden their expertise and grow their businesses. They were both embarking on a journey that would eventually result in their meeting.

In 1919, Marcel Tolkowsky, a cousin of Lazare Kaplan, developed a mathematical formula for cutting diamonds to precise angles and proportions to gain the optimum reflection and refraction of light.  Lazare adopted that ideal cut theory in 1919 and the Company is still today devoted to the art of cutting the most beautiful diamonds.

This method, based on a complex formula that measures with exacting precision a diamond’s many angles and proportions, produces a diamond that maximizes the characteristics that discerning consumers prize above all else: brilliance, sparkle, and fire.

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Hard Work and Integrity Shine in Tough Economic Times

During the 1920s, as the population of Purcell began to level off, B.C. Clark made the bold decision to move his family, and his business, to Oklahoma City. He purchased an existing jewelry store in the downtown business district, and the rest is history.

After the stock market crash in October of 1929, several Oklahoma businesses were forced to close their doors, but throughout the duration of the Great Depression, BC Clark Jewelers remained solvent. The business continued to grow, and the BC Clark name became synonymous for quality and integrity.

1936
Kaplan examining the Jonker Diamond

By 1936 Lazare Kaplan gained fame in his own right, when he successfully cut the 726-carat Jonker diamond, after a year of planning; the largest and finest uncut diamond known at the time. This was an extremely complex diamond, which could have been destroyed if the plans of other cutters who had examined it had been followed. And it was there, in New York, as Kaplan tapped the cleaver on this historic occasion, that a young, B.C. Clark, Jr. watched in amazement. Kaplan’s attention to detail and fine craftsmanship struck a chord with B.C.

And so it was only a matter of time before these two families would collide. Fueled by a common desire to carry on the proud traditions of their ancestors and a mutual respect for one another, an exclusive partnership was formed. And over the past eight decades, BC Clark Jewelers has proudly carried the Lazare line in all three of our OKC locations.

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Lazare Kaplan posing in his New York office with his sons and grandsons. In the background: A framed photo of Kaplan and B.C. Clark, Sr. meeting.

The quality, precision, and master craftsmanship of these amazing diamonds can only be truly appreciated in person. We encourage you to come by any of our OKC locations to experience the Lazare collection for yourself.

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