“If a special cut creates a market for the stones, and they move and don’t sit in the safe, then to lose a little extra weight in the fashioning process is worth it,” says John King, technical director of the Gemological Institute of America. King hasn’t seen the LV diamonds, but he says any petal-like shape is likely to draw a second glance: “It parallels what you see happening with most other industries. The goal is to make something as visually appealing as it is unique.”
Bensoussan says all efforts were made to ensure that as little diamond dust as possible ended up on the workshop floor. “At Lili, they actually mark on the stone with a black pen where they will cut it,” he says. “With our diamonds, we lose anywhere between 25 and 50 percent of the weight of the rough stone. It is, unfortunately, a huge part of the diamond that is cut away. But the result is something very, very special.”
And something, of course, upon close inspection, definitely recognizable, which Bensoussan is counting on to lure clients away from venerable jewelry houses, whose spectacular pieces may have all the cachet of Vuitton’s but lack the obvious logo, and thus brand, recognition. “With almost all of the diamond cuts on the market today, there is no relation between the design of the diamond and the core identity of the brand,” says Bensoussan. “We did not want our diamond to be seen as just another high-value one—that’s why we had to have our own shapes.”
Which is not to say that Vuitton has pioneered the diamond-patent business, though the cut-as-logo is certainly an innovation that could have other luxury fashion houses sending their jewelry experts to Belgium and Israel in coming seasons. “It really does add value,” says Sally Morrison, director of the Diamond Information Center. “For the same reason someone’s going to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag, there are consumers who are definitely going to want the LV diamond. It offers a certain kind of promise—it’s a kind of badge that says, ‘I’m a first mover, aesthetically.’”
The gold standard for these cuts is Tiffany & Co.’s Lucida, created in 1999. A modified square, the diamond has 50 facets and a clean, elegant look.
Marketed as an engagement cut and wedding band, the Lucida has been hugely successful, thanks to the combination of its originality and provenance. “It’s hard to go anywhere in the world where they don’t know what that blue box means,” Morrison notes.
Plenty of others have jumped on the branded-cut bandwagon, from the mass-market end (see the Leo, a 66-faceted symmetrical round cut sold through Kay Jewelers) and the ultra-exclusive (H. Stern’s asymmetrical Stern Star) to the centenary sort, as with the Montblanc diamond, launched in honor of the Swiss company’s 100-year anniversary in 2006 and worked into the label’s pens and some jewelry pieces, including a necklace featuring a 12-carat Montblanc diamond. “The cut of the diamond,” which resembles a six-pronged star, “is the reproduction of the six valleys of the Montblanc mountain,” says Valentina Masu, the company’s jewelry designer. As for the impetus for innovating a diamond cut, as opposed to, say, a new pen model, to celebrate the anniversary, Masu is surprisingly sound bite–free: “Well, it’s just really good marketing positioning.”