By Claire Troughton, May 14 2015 11:51AM
I was recently lucky enough to visit Amsterdam for a short break. I really enjoyed this fabulous city, cruising along the canals, visiting the Reiksmuseum and sampling the cafe culture (but not coffee house culture!). Although this was a holiday I couldn't resist the temptation to visit a diamond factory. We were treated to a talk about diamond cuts and quality. This is something I'm already familiar with and use the knowledge to pick out the best quality diamonds at the best price for my commission work. (If you're interested in learning more about this leave a comment and I'll look at doing a blog post just on this.)
Next we moved onto watch a diamond being faceted. Rough diamonds are first analised and the optimal cut for the stone is decided using a sophisticated computer programme. This allows the craftsmen to decide where to cut the stone to allow the maximum amount of carat weight to be retained, whilst allowing most light to be reflected. The diamond then goes to a polisher who will create the first 8 facets. During this process the diamond is held in a special bracket, which keeps it at an exact angle. It is then lowered onto a spinning horizontal wheel covered in diamond paste. This slowly polishes away a part of the surface, which is then checked and the stone turned to polish the next facet.
After this there is further cutting and polishing until in the case of a brilliant cut diamond 57 facets are created. Every one of these facets then has to be checked by eye under a microscope 3 or 4 times each to ensure the polish is up to standard.
Once the diamonds have been professionally examined and graded by an external body to confirm the 4 c's (clarity, colour, cut and carat weight) they are then ready to be made into jewellery. Seeing the rows of benches, stocked with tools, where craftsmen create the pieces took me right back to my days at Edinburgh College of Art where I completed my degree in jewellery design and making.
Finally we got the chance to try on a few diamond rings. My daughter was thrilled with this and picked out a 22,000 euro ring for herself! In the end a promise for me to make her an unique engagement ring when the time comes seemed to suffice (although my husband is adamant this won't be for at least 30 years!).
Before World War II Amsterdam had been the World's centre for the diamond trade. However, during German occupation more than 100,000 jews were deported, including famously Anne Frank. Since this trade was mostly in the hands of Jewish businessmen and craftsmen the diamond trade was almost wiped out in the city. The centre was then established in Antwerp and this is where I source most of my graded diamonds from in order to get the best quality for the best possible price. I designed and made this stunning engagement ring which was set with a 0.65ct brilliant cut diamond sourced from Antwerp. I have built up a relationship with a handful of diamond dealers over many years and because of this I was able to request several diamonds for the customer to look at before committing to purchase this one. This made the ring even more special and really involved the clients in the process of creating a truly unique ring that you just can't buy from a diamond factory.