In the opulent splendor of the new Dior boutique on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, with its haute couture salon and patisserie, lies a not-so-hidden gem. Tucked away in a display case is a cushion-shaped yellow fancy diamond named “Le Montaigne”. It was cut to weigh precisely 88.88 carats in reference to the founding of Dior on October 8, 1946 in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, and to the line “8” – in French, “En Huit” – which, together with the ” Corolle” established the much-vaunted New Look style of the house.
The Montaigne is intended to be a one-of-a-kind stone, which the house’s artistic director of jewelry, Victoire de Castellane, will set in a specially designed jewel. The use of a particular, even exclusive cut, is a practice that is gaining momentum among luxury houses seeking to reinforce their individuality and their presence in the world of jewelry, and to respond to the desire for something special from customers.
In 2001, Bucherer, in partnership with Dutch diamond cutters Royal Asscher, pioneered the trend with the introduction of its own Royal Asscher cut, which improves the light reflection of the classic square cut by adding 16 new facets. In 2019, to celebrate its 100th anniversary, Italian house Buccellati launched the Buccellati Cut, a square-cut diamond with 57 bumpy facets with rounded edges to mimic the house logo. “My goal was to have a stone that could perfectly combine with our style in jewelry,” explains creative director Andrea Buccellati.
Last year, Chanel introduced a 55.55-carat diamond cut in the octagonal shape of the cap of the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle, and Chaumet launched the scintillating 88-facet Taille Impératrice cut inspired by “the hexagonal shape [of] the heart of [our bestselling] Design of the Bee My Love collection,” explains Jean-Marc Mansvelt, CEO of Chaumet. The number eight refers to the movements that bees use to communicate with each other – and in Chinese culture it is considered a good luck charm. Louis Vuitton also has its own diamond cuts: a round flower and a pointed flower inspired by its monogram.
Fresh from a mine, a diamond looks like a piece of dirty glass and is cut to shine. In their simplest form, diamonds are cut into octahedrons or two pyramids with the bases connected.
The cutting of the tops of the pyramids resulted in the first “table cut”, which appeared around the 15th century, with nine faces and improved fire (ability of gems to split light into colors of the spectrum). More facets led to more brilliance – and demand.
“Since 1919, the round brilliant cut has largely been the dominant style of diamond cutting, which is reinforced when considering the price of diamonds – one listing for round diamonds, another for all other shapes”, explains Quig Bruning, jewelry manager. department at Sotheby’s Americas. It refers to the ultra-popular 58-facet round-shaped cut designed by Polish-Belgian mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky, who came from a family of gem cutters.
“Eighty-five percent of all diamonds purchased worldwide are round brilliant cut white diamonds. The remaining 15% are traditional fancy cuts such as baguette, princess, oval, emerald, etc. says Vishal P Mehta, co-managing director of Dimexon, a diamond cutter based in India.
According to Mehta, personalized cuts such as those recently patented by luxury houses “generate the ability to speak rather than reinforce sales”. But he insists on the importance of the cut in the overall value: “The quality of the cut is an important criterion. A higher quality cut with better proportions, better polish and better symmetry can result in a smaller diamond but will potentially be more valuable,” he explains.
Establishing a new diamond cut takes time. “Customers are sensitive to the commercial value of diamonds in the secondary market,” Mansvelt says, alluding to lower prices achieved by unusual cuts at auction.
Yet the enthusiastic reception of the new Empress Cut by some of his house’s best clients, as Mansvelt of Chaumet reports, suggests a growing desire for one-size-fits-all, which reflects the growing interest in large rough stones and the appetite most prevalent for one-of-a-kind pieces in the luxury sphere.
After all, the most famous diamonds are usually uniquely cut – think of the Koh-i-Noor belonging to the British Crown or the Tiffany diamond cut in a magnificent 128.54 carat stone worn by Audrey Hepburn, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé .
“Each facet of a diamond has a huge impact on its appearance,” says Bruning of Sotheby’s. “Creating an exclusive cut can be a compelling way to distinguish your brand in a busy market.”
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