Each and every one of the world’s most famous and historic diamonds has its own story to tell: a deeply personal saga of love and lust, challenges and triumphs, unfolding through millennia, like the infinite facets of the diamond itself. Now, the renowned Parisian heritage Maison, Louis Vuitton offers a scintillating opportunity for diamond devotees and jewellery connoisseurs to create their own story, build their own legend, and to imprint their own personality on a divine diamond destined to become one of the great historic gemstones of the future.
Today, Louis Vuitton unveils the magnificent Sethunya; a 549 carat rough diamond of sublime quality, purity and clarity, of high lustre and high colour, a whiteness described by enamoured viewers to soar beyond existing classifications, to reach a ‘C’ grade. This natural wonder was recovered from the Lucara Diamond Corp’s Karowe mine in Botswana, the world’s most important source of large, high value Type II diamonds, with exceptional limpidity and otherworldly beauty. It was on February 1st this year that Maria Basupi, a conscientious, quiet and reserved diamond sorter, screamed with surprise and joy at finding what every diamond worker dreams of: an extraordinarily large and pristine, perfectly formed rough crystal. The stone was found to be exceptional in many ways, particularly for its formation, its perfect cubic crystallization visible through the spectacular clarity, telling of its beginnings some 1-2 billion years ago, revealing the perfect order of the natural world, the miracle of the natural diamond.
The stone, named Sethunya, meaning ‘flower’ in Setswana, the main language of the mining communities, is the companion – and extreme contrast- to the Sewelo, the monumental 1758 carat rough diamond, enveloped in a black carbon ‘skin’ , that was presented by Louis Vuitton in Paris in January during Couture. Together the two stones represent the harmony of opposites, black and white, yin and yang, mystery and clarity. Both were recovered from the same unit of the South Lobe of the Karowe mine, using Karowe’s pioneering high-tech Mega Diamond Recovery system that identifies large carbon-rich crystals, so saving them from the usual ore-crushing process.
The Sethunya is Louis Vuitton’s second collaboration with Lucara and HB Antwerp, the closed-circle technology company focusing on the diamond industry. Together, through this ground-breaking joint venture, they aim to bring complete transparency, traceability and integrity to the diamond’s journey from the centre of the earth through aeons of time, from mine to masterpiece. To illuminate the storytelling that is at the heart of every historic diamond, but also to authenticate that story with facts, the truths surrounding origins and ethics that today’s discerning luxury clients expect and demand. Starting with Lucara’s contributions to local communities, which go far beyond job and wealth creation, to include vital sustainability and educational initiatives. Lucara ensures that the people of Botswana benefit from the discovery, the collaboration and from the proceeds of the diamonds. From here, the scene shifts to the age-old diamond-cutting centre of Antwerp, where HB Antwerp recruits and rewards talent, and finally to Paris, to Louis Vuitton’s focus on creative collaborations, dedication to excellence and innovation, and commitment to the integrity of provenance of all of its creations. In this way, the diamond’s journey becomes the voyage of discovery and ingenuity that is the soul of Louis Vuitton.
Eira Thomas, President and CEO of Lucara Diamond Corporation, sees a huge opportunity in the collaboration with Louis Vuitton, not only for the Karowe mine but for the diamond industry as a whole. “We believe the industry is at a cross-roads. It’s time to do things differently. Louis Vuitton is turning the antiquated paradigm of the diamond industry on its head. We want the customer to be in the driving seat.” She sees the concept of bespoke and personalized diamonds as an important value driver for the industry as a whole. “Our co-operation with HB Antwerp and LV is about creating a rope that we’re all pulling on, in the same direction.”
Even more, tapping into LV’s long tradition of supreme artisanship and personalisation, and its spirit of audacity and ingenuity, the Maison is offering bespoke diamonds fashioned from this rare specimen, cut, polished and made-to-order, to the client’s wishes: the ultimate personalised High Jewellery experience and the opportunity to create a truly unique gem, a storied family heirloom, today’s ultimate possession for the well-heeled, deep-pocketed connoisseur. This bold initiative is made possible by HB Antwerp’s advanced technology, which analyses the rough to come up with different options of shape, size, cut, and by their expertise in diamond-cutting. Together with LV, HB Antwerp will work closely with each client to create their dream diamond. The Sethunya is expected to yield exceptionally beautiful polished stones of the highest quality of clarity and colour. After initial analysis, various permutations include two majestic stones of 100 carats each, or a possible 170 carat pear-shape, along with an array of satellite stones, and signature LV cuts, exquisitely fashioned as the Maison’s logo star and flower.
Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton CEO, explains, “Many of our high-jewellery clients have shown a keen interest in unique diamonds and there is an increased demand for bespoke and one of a kind creations. The Sethunya is an exceptional rough diamond, and we are extremely proud to have the opportunity to offer it to them. And so, renewing our collaboration with Lucara and HB Antwerp – the best in their fields – was a natural step that reflects our values of innovation, surprise and the disruption of the status quo.”
Both the Sethunya and the Sewelo will tour the world, like the glittering glamorous stars they are, presented to specially-invited clients at exclusive high-profile events this this autumn, with the aim of matching exceptional stones with exceptional connoisseurs. Weaving the client’s own story with that of the diamond’s journey so far, from darkness into light, opening a new chapter in the long and rich story of the divine diamond, bringing positivity and creativity to everyone involved in this wondrous voyage into the future.