Color Fills This Gem Dealer’s Life

“I was that kid that stared at the sunset every night,” Dave Bindra said. Now the Los Angeles businessman gazes at sapphires and spinels.

A rough piece of kunzite radiates a hot magenta from its natural ridges. The pulsating chartreuse of a chrysoberyl could double as Superman’s glowing kryptonite. An angular Mozambican tourmaline has the yellow-orange hue of a sun-ripened peach. These eye-catching gemstones, cut and polished by artisans around the world, share a single common denominator: Dave Bindra.

“If you ask me what my favorite colors are, I always say, ‘Favorite colors to look at; favorite colors to wear; favorite colors to be around.’ Each of those are different,” he said.

A procurer of rare and precious gemstones and self-described gem curator, Mr. Bindra, 38, is the vice president and head of acquisitions at B&B Fine Gems, based in downtown Los Angeles. The initials stand for his parents, Lavi and Ruben Bindra, who founded the wholesale company in 1984. They still own the business, which has six full-time and three part-time employees, including Dave Bindra and his sister, Sabrina, as the manager of operations.

While the company will not disclose its revenue, Mr. Bindra said its dealings with about 100 major companies around the world puts B&B among the global industry’s top 10 wholesalers, by volume.

One of those companies is Shah & Shah Distinctive Jewelers, in Washington, D.C. And Colin Shah, its owner, said, “Dave honestly saved me” after he messaged Mr. Bindra through Instagram in December 2019.

A collection of gems.Mark Hartman for The New York Times

“Prior to meeting Dave, color was really scary to me,” said Mr. Shah, 48. “But we started this amazing conversation about how restricted I felt with diamonds and how scared of color I was.” In mid-2020, Mr. Bindra sent a selection of medium-blue sapphires, tourmalines and spinels to Mr. Shah, who had a goldsmith in Virginia make them into jewelry.

“It was the height of the pandemic, and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it” financially, Mr. Shah said. “The gemstone collection sold like gangbusters. Now I say diamonds are for everyone else, but color is personal.”

Mr. Shah, a fourth-generation jeweler, said his business was roughly split between diamonds and colored gemstones, thanks largely to Mr. Bindra. And the two men continue to talk and text daily, exchanging photos and even planning vacations. (“I FaceTime him more than my mother,” Mr. Bindra said.)

“He is one of the kindest humans you will ever meet,” Mr. Shah said. “He is thoughtful and empathetic in a way he doesn’t need to be, but he’s also really good at what he does. He identifies opportunities that seem risky from the outside.”

In late 2018, for example, Mr. Bindra was buying peach-colored tourmalines, orangy-pink padparadscha sapphires and malaya garnets. That December, Pantone announced Living Coral would be the 2019 color of the year. “He saw it where others didn’t,” Mr. Shah said.

Born in Los Angeles two years after his parents emigrated from Patiala, India, Mr. Bindra said he had always been “obsessed” with color.

“I was that kid that stared at the sunset every night. Once the sun had already set and everyone moved on, I kept staring.” It wasn’t the clouds or the horizon that interested Mr. Bindra, but rather the colors and specifically the gradients.

Mr. Bindra holding a paraiba tourmaline.Mark Hartman for The New York Times

After graduating from the University of Southern California, he began seriously considering law school. “But my heart wasn’t in it,” he said. “I grew up around gemstones. The Tucson Gem Show is kind of like the Burning Man of the jewelry industry. It was my Disneyland growing up.”

He recalled going to the show with his parents, who had a sales booth. “My sister and I used to sleep under the showcases when we were kids,” he said. “I grew up seeing and collecting rocks.”

About 16 years ago, Mr. Bindra visited his father at the JCK gem trade show in Las Vegas and, at the Bellagio, they “came up with a game plan” on a bar napkin (which Mr. Bindra regrets he did not keep). “My dream was to sell to the Harry Winstons, the Tiffanys, the Cartiers of the world,” Mr. Bindra said. He was 23.

Part of the plan was that Mr. Bindra would complete the six-month gemologist program offered by the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.), where he is the youngest governor on its board. (He also serves on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and American Gem Society Young Titleholders; is an adviser to the Black in Jewelry Coalition; and is president of the Los Angeles chapter of the G.I.A. Alumni Collective.)

Once Mr. Bindra received his gemologist diploma in 2007, he began accompanying his father on buying trips around the world, visiting locations including Mozambique, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

And he attended trade shows with B&B, like the JCK event where he met Susan Jacques, who was president and chief executive of Borsheims Fine Jewelry and Gifts in Omaha at the time, but now is the G.I.A.’s president and chief executive. “It’s his knowledge, passion and self-confidence,” she said, “first when he was selling to me and now on our board, that’s highly respected and regarded.”

Over the years Mr. Bindra has grown the company’s sales list, adding high jewelry houses, although nondisclosure agreements prohibit him from identifying them. And he introduced the company to social media, often offering short videos of gemstones matched in color to sneakers from his extensive collection to the more than 20,000 followers of his @geminfluencer Instagram channel.

His father said Mr. Bindra also introduced cutting stones to the company. “I taught him the buying,” said Ruben Bindra, 67, “but he learned on his own how to recut the stone and make it the best it can be.”

Gemstones sell by weight, so it is not uncommon for a cutter to limit trimming in an effort to obtain the highest price. “We call him Mr. Wonderful but also the Butcher,” Ruben Bindra said. “He is the artist that I am not.”

Ms. Jacques said B&B’s curation and quality were the reasons she had frequented the B&B booth at trade fairs. “Whether it was the beauty of the cut that brought out the life, or their matching pairs — it takes a lot of goods to find two that match well — I could always tell the effort that Dave took,” she said.

His focus has spilled over to the company’s office: blank white walls, a stark white table and white orchids, replaced monthly. “We don’t want to distract you,” Mr. Bindra said. “My father and I have had very passionate internal debates over this. There’s no art. He wants gemstone paintings everywhere. I want the stones to have your complete attention.”

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