The disruptive artist Johnathan Schultz unveiled a poignant Diamond Fingerprint comprised of more than 9,000 diamonds at Art Basel Miami Beach this week. It’s been touted as the largest diamond art piece ever. That record was formerly held by Damien Hirst’s For the Love of God Diamond Skull made with 8,600 diamonds.
But it’s not just about the number of diamonds in Schultz’s art piece, it’s also about the significance of natural diamonds. His Out of the Darkness exhibition showcases two diamond art pieces that combine cultural iconography from around the world with the “spellbinding beauty of diamonds,” says the artist.
The Diamond Fingerprint is copied from the late South African leader Nelson Mandela’s fingerprints. It’s made with 9,225 round brilliant diamonds weighing 895 carats and set in 18-karat white gold. It’s designed to show the legacy and story of South Africa’s first democratically elected President in a different light. Natural diamonds, the world’s hardest substance, are known as a source of light and sparkle – both physically and metaphorically. They are also an enduring symbol of love, a fitting tribute to Mandela.
The accompanying diamond art piece, the Refraction of a Legacy, is a diamond chandelier constructed from the metal fencing recovered from Robben Island, the maximum-security prison where Mandela was held during the Apartheid years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 10-foot-tall chandelier features cascading diamonds, which the artist says represents “the hope and light we have in ourselves, with the structure signifying light breaking through the fence that once imprisoned others.”
The diamond art by Johnathan Schultz was unveiled at Le Art Noir, Diversity in Color, a multicultural collaboration of artists from around the world.