by Danielle Tate-Stratton 

First discovered more than 2,000 years ago in In­dia, the diamond holds a certain cachet in the world of jewelry. “Every woman needs at least one good diamond,” quips Atul Parekh in his Taj Enter­prise office, abuzz with preparation for an upcoming jewelry fair.

It is obvious that Atul loves the jewelry he works with and is enamored by its history and emotional pull as much as its economic value. He explains that both the industry and the consumer have polarized to a degree—some are pulled more toward the newer, more technical cuts, which require highly specialized, computer driven machines.  This method means that every diamond can be processed identi­cally, something that assures a certain level of per­fection. Computerized cutting techniques this precise lead to innovations such as the “hearts and arrows” cut which has awe inspiring symmetry, only becom­ing possible 20 years ago.

“Every woman needs at least
one good diamond”

On the other hand, some looking for a unique, one-of-a-kind piece to add creatively to an existing collection or to procure a diamond with an individual history are turning back toward traditional cuts and techniques. Although these hand-cut stones may not be the most technically precise, they have a unique individuality which, along with the fact they are handcrafted, gives them certain appeal to some con­sumers, including those on the red carpet—watch out for the shape of the rose cut in magazines and on stars in the near future.

The rose cut is almost the oldest of all cuts, go­ing back to a style which has been in existence since before jewelry became commoditized, when India was the only country where diamonds were found and when only the members of the royal family were allowed to wear diamonds because of their per­ceived value.

A rose cut diamond looks much flatter than what you may be used to seeing and is often used to create grouped pieces such as a pendant or broach as op­posed to a ring. Atul mentions that large, dangling earrings which make a bold statement are increasingly popular. For those in the know, this old style is clearly coming back into vogue. So this Valentine’s Day you can be on the cutting edge of the trend, even if you go back into history to select the perfect gift.

Consider looking for something truly unique in cut as well as overall style, perhaps a piece by de­signer Kazuo Ogawa, whose work “reflects the rich cultural heritage of the world.” Ogawa, who works with Taj Enterprise, draws from the inspiration of cultures around the world to create unique pieces, which evoke a sense of place. As an example, he has recently completed a collection which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Broadway with the traditional comedy/tragedy mask as a theme. Looking at his pieces, which represent the world over from Africa to Asia and back again, I am stunned at the abil­ity these pieces of jewelry have to immediately demand that I think of the place, culture and time to which he is paying tribute.

Atul recommends one expect to pay ¥50,000 when looking to buy a piece which involves more than, for instance, the simplest of diamond studs. When comparing a hand-cut stone to a machine-cut stone, the hand-cut stones are typically priced less expensively because the industry has assigned their imperfections less value—shocking given the phe­nomenal amount of work involved with creating a hand-cut stone.

When deciding what to buy, Atul suggests you go with your heart; pick something that appeals to you with passion and sentiment. If the stone is of a lesser quality, but you love the piece, don’t write it off just yet. A diamond does indeed last forever, so think about purchasing something you will cherish long-term even if it isn’t necessarily of the highest technical standards. Of course, Atul adds, buy the best you can afford, but be cautious not to fall into the trap of believing that less money equals less love. Decide on aspects which are important to you, per­haps a big stone with less quality vs. a perfect stone which is much smaller—then go shopping with that goal in mind.

If you are interested in seeing interesting and unique pieces with a cultural twist, Taj Enterprise is collaborating with several groups to launch “Romance of India”—a collection of jewelry which will feature an exhibition and sale touring Japan this year. Interested Weekender readers are invited to email the “Romance of India” organizers at [email protected] for more information and to score an invite.