In May 2019, the Antwerp diamond industry celebrated the 100th anniversary of the brilliant cut, the world’s most successful diamond shape, created by Antwerp mathematician Marcel Tolkowsky. This anniversary celebration also served as the launch of a unique project called `t Steentje* (‘the Stone’). The project: to polish a single diamond as a community. The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and the Antwerp diamond industry arranged to have 57 well-known (and not-so-well-known) residents of Antwerp polish a single diamond: one person for each facet of a brilliant. That 1.61-carat polished diamond was then integrated into an artwork unveiled today in the DIVA Diamond Museum at a reception for all 57 polishers. (Watch the video here).
In 1919, at the age of 19, Marcel Tolkowsky was the first to scientifically determine the perfect way to cut a diamond: 57 facets precisely positioned in such a way as to achieve the maximum brilliance, fire and scintillation. The ‘brilliant’ cut quickly conquered the world, and even today remains the most iconic and successful diamond cut globally. The first facet of the stone was polished by guest of honor and nephew of Marcel, Sir Gabriel 'Gabi' Tolkowsky, who is widely considered among the greatest diamond cutters of all time. His many accomplishments include the priceless, 274-carat Centenary Diamond, cut from a 599-carat rough stone, which is still the largest D Flawless diamond in history, and the Golden Jubilee Diamond, the largest faceted diamond in the world at 546 carats, which was presented to the King of Thailand.
The second facet of the stone was polished by centenarian Constantinus ‘Stan’ Hunselmans, who shares his year of birth with the brilliant cut. Numerous VIPs from the Antwerp political and cultural world were among the first round of polishers, as were several industry representatives such as Feriel Zerouki, Senior Vice President of International Relations and Ethical Initiatives, De Beers Group, Sergey Panchekhin, Director of Alrosa Belgium, and ambassadors to Belgium from diamond-producing countries Canada, Namibia, South Africa and Angola. Along the way, the Stone was polished by Belgian soccer players, designers, a female boxing champion, musicians and people from all walks of life. The final facet was reserved for the Mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever.
Ari Epstein, CEO AWDC: “We are thrilled with the result. ‘t Steentje expresses the multi-cultural and diverse makeup of the Antwerp diamond industry, and now it is integrated into this lovely artwork. The work of art is based on the head of an old-school polishing tang, symbolizing the excellent and unparalleled craftsmanship in Antwerp. I would like to thank all of our polishers for participating in this unique project.”
*In the Antwerp vernacular, `t Steentje refers to a diamond as well as the diamond industry.