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Jean Paul Tolkowsky of Tolkowsky Shares His Passion For His Craft

Jean Paul Tolkowsky Shares His Passion For His Craft

Jean Paul Tolkowsky enlightens us to the rich tapestry of family history, behind the scintillating Tolkowsky diamonds sold exclusively at Ernest Jones.

Ernest Jones - Editor

Q: What was your career path into the jewellery industry?

A: I think my career path must have been set in my mind at an early age. Listening to my father at home discussing a special stone or a planning a particular shape, diamonds were always a part of our daily lives.

I was young when I got my first proper job in the industry, just sixteen, I was learning to become a bruter (diamond cutter). This was mostly done by hand at that time. Diamond cutting is the art of securing the diamond to be cut to a spinning rotor and then gently brining up another diamond against its edge so that you can begin to polish it into the beautiful shape that you want it to become.

From that point on I knew it was the career for me. I was lucky to be able to learn many other elements of the trade on my journey but I have always been drawn to Marcel Tolkowsky's Ideal Cut and was inspired to share the real skill and beauty of his invention with as many people as possible.

Q: How would you say over the past 100 years your family has changed the face of the diamond industry? And what is your favourite heritage moment?

A: It has to be the Ideal Cut diamond. To give you context, in 1919 Marcel Tolkowsky was just 21 when he published his thesis 'Diamond Design' he was studying at the University of London just after the war and was working towards his PhD in engineering. I'm sure as a young man he wasn't thinking that he would revolutionise the diamond industry. He was really interested in how light behaves in diamonds and how you could calculate the proportions of the cut in order to maximise the light for the most beautiful diamond possible. What is incredible is that he did this without all the technological advantages that we enjoy today.

Marcel was a modest man, it was others who sought out his diamond looking for a cut that would release the most fire, brilliance and scintillation possible. Consistently over the last 100 years the Tolkowsky Ideal Cut has been tested and reconfirmed as the perfect parameters for a round brilliant diamond.

My favourite moment is probably the naming of the Ideal Cut. Marcel never gave it that name, it was the diamond industry. I think to have your peers recognise your work to such a level that they name it "Ideal" is something that we all can understand the importance of.

Q: Where does your passion for diamond crafting come from?

A: Natural diamonds are among the oldest formations in the world and each one has come on an incredible journey from deep inside the earth to get to you. I think that my passion comes from the idea that we can contribute a small part to the journey of each diamond and that it will go on to represent the most special moments possible in the lives of our customers.

Q: What was the most exciting jewel you have cut during your time of being a Master Diamond Cutter?

A: In 1988 my father Gabi Tolkowsky was tasked by De Beers to assemble a team for a secret project, to cut an exceptional diamond. I was in my early 20's and still learning my trade, so it was an amazing opportunity to be invited to be a part of the team of master cutters. I used to make all the resin models for the diamond so that each cut could be planned and measured before it made its way to the cutting wheel. That exceptional diamond took 3 years of polishing by hand to complete. Known as the Centenary diamond it weighs 273.85cts and is the world's largest D colour, Flawless diamond.

Q: Having created the Princess Ideal Cut Diamond are you inspired to work with another cut?

A: We are prolific in inventing cuts and now have more than 50 to our name. Most recently we have been working on the more traditional cut shapes like the Cushion and the Oval. Our aim is by applying the Marcel's principles of facet arrangement on light behaviour we can achieve the most beautiful cut possible.

Q: How do you design jewellery that shows every aspect of the diamond’s beauty?

A: The design of our jewellery is incredibly important to us. We take inspiration from our heritage and always try to reflect the ethos of the Ideal Cut's quality, precision and beauty in every single piece. Each design aims to allow as much unobstructed light as possible to reach the diamond so it can radiate back out into the three categories of light: fire (the coloured rainbow effect), brilliance (the reflections of white light) and scintillation (the myriad sparkle effect).

Q: How does a diamond make the grade to be cut into an Ideal Cut Diamond? Please talk us through the process

A: Each stage is done by hand, rough diamonds are selected by hand for the strict colour and clarity parameters needed to become a Tolkowsky ideal cut. The rough stone undergoes several scanning and mapping processes that allow us to look within the diamond to understand the size and position of its internal characteristics so that we can achieve the most beautiful diamond possible before polishing can take place.

Every Ideal Cut diamond goes through 36 individual processes (twice as many as a standard diamond)]) including quality checks at every stage to ensure that the strict cutting parameters needed for a Tolkowsky Ideal Cut are being met.

The Ideal Cut is a precision design with a set of parameters. Whether it is a .25ct or a 2.50ct the parameters need to be correct to the micron. We use the GemEx System as a quantifiable measurement of light that ensures we are always achieving the triple very high grades in fire, brilliance and scintillation.

Only once we are satisfied with our internal GemEx result and our own strict QC checks do we send out diamonds out for the independent tests at GSI and GemEx. Each diamond is then graded and issued with its own unique certificate number that correlated to its 4C's grading - colour, clarity, carat weight and of course the most important, Ideal Cut grading.

And finally...

Q: What would you like the Tolkowsky brand to achieve in the next 100 years?

A: For the next 100 years we look forward to continuing to be a part of the celebratory moments in the lives of our customers. To pass on pride and reassurance to each generation that owns a Tolkowsky, through the knowledge that they have the most beautiful and timeless diamond possible.

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