Diamond Crash Course Part Two
Now that we know about how diamonds are valued, we can look into how they're used to create beautiful pieces of art (Jean Schlumberger High Jewelry Piece for Tiffany & Co.)!
The most common diamond shape is round, and that is the standard by which the grading criteria we discussed last week are set. However, fine jewelry would be pretty boring with circles as the only shape!
Diamonds can come in a variety of shapes, many of which are also popular as the starring element of solitaire rings, such as emerald cut, pear cut, and princess cut. These stones can be set in a variety of ways: solitaires are generally presented in prong settings to show off as much of the stone as possible, but channel settings, tension settings, and even flush settings can convey unique visual ideas, such as Tiffany's "Etoile" line, where diamonds represent starlight.
Stone cutters can determine the best shape of the stone they plan on crafting based on the qualities of the raw stone and the customer's preference. Each shape has unique qualities that can be attractive for certain buyers or for certain purposes. For instance, princess cut stones of smaller sizes can be arranged in plaque formations using a newer technique called invisible setting.
Invisible set princess cut stones have tiny grooves cut below the girdle. Using magnification and sensitive instruments, jewelers can use force and tension to make the stones "click" together, so nothing has to buckle the stones to the ring except the outer edge of the piece. This allows the full brilliance of all the stones to be visible without any kind of soldering or setting to hold the stones in place.
Small round diamonds are generally set in a plaque using pave setting, where jewelers carve small divots into a plaque or piece of metal and then secure the stones with tiny bulbs of soldering
Using this method with colored stones, jewelers can actually create images using each stone as a "pixel."
Another method sees jewelers using pave setting in plaques with different-sized diamonds, creating a sort of cobblestone effect.
Even with these two techniques, there are tons of different designs jewelers can create!
One final gem-setting technique is so unique and mysterious that it must be mentioned, and it is the aptly named "mystery setting" from Van Cleef & Arpels. Pieces exhibiting this technique can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. In 1933, the master jewelers at Van Cleef have mastered a way to use invisible setting, or something like it, with three-dimensional bends and curves so gem plaques can serve as the color for flower petals and animals and other elements of their masterpieces. The technique is so painstaking that their master jewelers can take hundreds of hours to create a single piece, and only a handful are released each year.
With so many tools in their arsenal, it's no problem to execute a multitude of ideas for one-of-a-kind pieces. Which is your favorite?