PriceScope

Can diamond-cutting be considered Art?

Coming back from holidays, and trying to catch up with Pricescope, I saw a lot of discussion and agreement about diamond-cutting being an art, and hence diamond cutters to be artists. At first, I felt like I had to disagree with this notion.

I consider ourselves not to be artists, but craftsmen, designers if you want, but not artists. After all, when we start working on a rough diamond, we are not driven by emotions, which we want to express. Our main aim is to make or save money, by trying to cut the diamond, which we can easily sell for the highest amount.

But how about Shakespeare then, who had to make sure that people came to see his plays, or he would be without a living? Or Toulouse-Lautrec, whose paintings were used as advertisements?

Thinking about it, I slowly discovered that first, there is no clear definition of ‘Art’, and second, that many romantic notions about ‘Art’ do not apply.

The ancient Greeks regarded ‘Art’ as an activity, based on knowledge and governed by rules, and as such considered the following activities as the seven liberal arts: Grammar, Rhetoric, Dialectic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music. Well, I can very well see diamond-cutting as an application of geometry, and to some extent of arithmetic.

In the early Middle Ages, ‘Art’ was considered a teachable activity, and an artist was actually a craftsman. Hey, I can relate to that position too.

In those days, painting for instance was not considered an art, and I must say that I am not amazed, since painters were not considered to know about mathematical perspective, optics and geometry until the Renaissance. In this period, activities like painting, sculpture and architecture bloomed, and only then, did they reach acceptance as ‘Art’.

Think about Rubens, whose paintings were produced in a factory-environment, mostly commissioned by rich patrons, and whose students grew up to become famous artists themselves, like Jordaens and Van Dyck. Is there an analogy with the cutting of diamonds in a factory-environment, while we all are students of Tolkowsky?

And of course, every artist had his muses. Maybe, ours are girls like belle, Mara, aljdewey, and others, whose eternal gratitude we are vying to obtain by producing the most symmetrical diamonds. OK, I might be slightly exaggerating right now.

Basically, my point is that there needs not be a dichotomy between diamond-cutting being an art, and our eternal concentration on mathematical detail. For the ancients, it was already clear that art is based upon knowledge and rules. In the same way, the fact that most diamond cutters are constrained by economic situations was also true for many great artists of the past. In some areas of diamond cutting, there is more leeway for personal expression, but in most fields, this is limited.

In this way, I do agree that diamond-cutting is to some extent an art-form. I do hope, however, that we will get recognition before we die.