So who’s Emmett?
Fair question, since my name is Emily Dubinsky but my company’s name is Emily Emmett.
No, Emmett isn’t my married name. But after years of listening to telemarketers stumble over my last name, there was no way I was going to give my company a name no one can pronounce on the first try.
But I didn’t pull Emmett out of thin air. I’ll admit it, one reason I chose it is that it sounds nice with my first name. The alliteration is catchy, isn’t it? And that double E logo—so cute, amirite?
Ok let’s be serious now. I chose the name Emmett in honor of my research collaborator, mentor, and dear friend Dr. John Emmett. Dr. Emmett ran Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s Laser Program in the 1970s-1980s. He was a pioneer in laser and fusion science, building some of the biggest lasers the world had ever seen. He is an experimentalist at heart, so when he retired from public service he couldn't just stop being a scientist.
Dr. Emmett got into heat treating gemstones because—well, you know—he was an expert on ruby lasers so he knew a thing or two about gem-quality ruby (and sapphire—they’re the same mineral, corundum). In the early 2000s, Dr. Emmett solved the beryllium diffusion problem in sapphires that had befuddled the trade, earning him the respect of everyone—especially the gem labs.
That’s how I met John. When our paths first crossed, he was an external consultant to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and I was a gemologist in GIA’s New York lab. For a few years, John worked with a small group of gemologists from GIA’s New York, Carlsbad, and Bangkok labs. John hosted us at his home and laboratory once a month, teaching us about the physics and chemistry of corundum and collaborating with us on research into its causes of color.
For whatever reason, John and I just clicked. Not only did we stay in touch after I left GIA to attend business school, we even wrote a book chapter together for Dick Hughes' updated edition of Ruby & Sapphire during my second year at Columbia. The chapter covers our research on corundum color and you can find it here.
Our work involved quantitatively describing the causes of color in ruby and sapphire, a groundbreaking concept in gemology. To make it easily accessible, we condensed it and published it as the lead article in the Spring 2020 issue of Gems & Gemology.
John is one of my biggest proponents. Other than my parents, he is the one person in my life who has always offered unconditional support and guidance. So when I called him up to tell him my crazy idea to leave Wall Street and start a jewelry design company, he hauled out his trays of heat treatment experimental materials (i.e., faceted gemstones) and simply said "I'll send you whatever you need."
Nearly all of the E|E sample jewelry I made to test different designs includes John's stones. (If you're lucky, I have some leftovers I might use in a design for you.) But his imprint on the company extends beyond that. I became who I am as a gemologist--no, as a competent and confident adult--because of John. John helped me see I could become more than I was, and that turned out to be Emily Emmett.