Cutting edge of creative excellence
As with most things in life, size does matter. And, if you want to make an impact, nowhere is this more true than with the size of your diamonds. But to be truly unique and stand out from the crowd, you should have not only a large diamond, but also one cut in an innovative way. After all, if you are special, why shouldn't the cut of your diamond?
There are hundreds of unique, fancy-cut diamonds, also called designer cuts or modified cuts, depending on its characteristics. Some cuts have been around for a long time, such as old mine cuts and rose cuts. Others are more a curiosity than best sellers - think Christmas tree cut. Then there are the heavy hitters such as the patented Leo, Ashoka, Heart and Arrows and Estrella cuts that have made a big impact in Hong Kong and the mainland.
Why are new cuts developed? The cynic might say that store brands are looking for new marketing tools. Develop a new cut with a marketing campaign and you can draw customers. Hence, the term 'designer cuts' evolved because jewellery is a sort of fashion.
But that's not the whole story. Diamond cutting is an old and revered profession and, as in any artistic field, there are craftsmen who push the envelope. It takes a team of extraordinarily gifted designers, artisans and connoisseurs to reveal sparkling beauty from the rough stone. Together, they conduct years of research and experiment with new faceting patterns in order to create new types of light reflection and refraction in diamonds.
'Their research is the result of the intangible relationship between the love of beauty and the love of diamond, which then occasionally allows new diamond cuts and shapes to be created,' says Marc Brauner, co-CEO of the gem certification institute IGI.
Incorporating art and science, the goal in producing new cuts is always differentiation, exclusivity and beauty.
'Remember that this material needs to undergo serious modification from its rough condition, as when it was mined, to the finished polished diamond as presented in jewellery stores. To come up with even more modification is an incredible challenge, especially if the manufacturer has to commit to a consistent production of his invention. This is certainly no gimmick,' the gemmologist says.
One fine example of a modified cut is the Estrella. Developed by the company Rosy Blue -one of the largest diamond companies in the world- it was featured at the 'Diamond is Art' exhibition at IFC Mall in 2005. Available exclusively in Hong Kong, from TSL Jewellery, the Estrella is a round, modified brilliant-cut diamond with 100 facets.
TSL Jewellery says that only the very best stones make it into their exclusive Estrella collection.
'This stone is cut to such precision that it displays nine hearts from the crown when viewing it with an Estrella magnifier,' says Brauner, whose company hosted the exhibition.
Another famous cut developed in Japan in the mid-1980s is Hearts and Arrows, a traditional round and brilliant cut that shows eight arrows from the crown side, and eight hearts from the pavilion side, when viewed through a Heart and Arrows scope. This modern round and brilliant cut is a great marketing tool for the boutiques that carry it. And because of the extreme precision involved in the polishing process, it garners praise from industry insiders.
'The effect of hearts and arrows are visible because every facet is positioned in such a symmetrical way, mirroring light in a manner that enables the viewer to see these images. This is testimony to the highest possible precision in cutting a diamond, a sort of proof that every such diamond was polished with the utmost care for symmetry and proportions,' Brauner explains, noting that, usually, these stones are rated 'excellent' for polish, symmetry and cut grades, the highest that can be obtained.
Of course, being unique often comes at a price. There is a premium on the price of innovative diamonds because of the greater time taken to polish them, the technical difficulties, and loss of rough during production and during the polisher's training.
The most difficult part for diamond polishers is consistent production of such stones.
Diamond manufacturing plants must be specially built with stabilised floors and polishing tables, and equipped with high-end polishing instruments. Investment must also be made in employing specialised polishers who can use these instruments accurately.
'A consistent production of any modified polished diamond, or traditionally cut diamond with special effects, comes at a higher cost. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that these stones will fetch a higher price at retail level as well,' Hong Kong-based Brauner says.
There are other innovative diamond cuts known for their powerful light return. Perhaps the most famous is the LEO diamond, launched over a decade ago in the United States by Leo Schachter. It has additional facets positioned in such a way that they display more sparkle than regular polished diamonds.
The Ashoka diamond is another fancy cut in high demand. This diamond is an elongated round-cornered, mixed cut.
'It is a fabulous creation,' Brauner points out. 'Thanks to its criss-cross facets, it displays its own typical sparkle, unseen in any other polished diamond.'