At last month’s Brit Awards 2020 ceremony, popular singer-rapper Lizzo turned heads on the red carpet with her quirky chocolate-themed ensemble. Clad in a Moschino dress modelled after a Hershey’s wrapper, she carried a Judith Leiber chocolate bar clutch and sported a chocolate-hued (and scented) manicure. It didn’t end there — her jewellery also followed suit, with a juicy array of brown diamonds on her Lorraine Schwartz earrings and rings.
Brown diamonds had another moment in the spotlight at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, when actress Scarlett Johansson was spotted wearing her massive 11-carat light brown diamond engagement ring at the Marvel panel. The ring is believed to be created by Taffin Jewelry, a New York-based brand run by James de Givenchy— the nephew of Givenchy founder Hubert de Givenchy. On Taffin’s Instagram page, it’s described as a type IIA diamond, which is highly coveted because it’s almost or completely free of impurities.
Ranging from hues of light champagne to deep cognac, brown diamonds obtain their distinctive colours from being subjected to pressure while being formed underground, which deforms their crystal lattice and alters the way light passes through it. They are among the most common varieties in the realm of coloured diamonds and, for decades, were relegated to industrial use.
This only began to change in the mid-80s, when the Argyle diamond mine in Australia was established and found that 80 percent of its yield was brown diamonds. The mine started selling these stones themselves and soon discovered a demand in the market. People were drawn to the unusual hues of the diamonds, as well as their affordability compared to conventional white diamonds.
Jewellers started taking notice too. One of the most prominent purveyors of brown diamonds is New York-based brand Le Vian, which rolled out a trademarked Chocolate Diamonds line in 2000. This comprises naturally dark champagne-hued sparklers rated between C4 and C7 on the Argyle colour scale and with a clarity of SI (Slightly Included). According to the jeweller, only five percent of the diamonds from Australia’s Argyle mine meet these standards, which make them particularly sought-after. These Chocolate Diamonds continue to be Le Vian’s most iconic product till today.
Brown diamonds today
Recent years have seen celebrities and even high jewellers the likes of Cartier and Chopard embracing brown diamonds. The latter, for example, unveiled a glorious Great Gatsby-esque necklace in 2018 that featured over 205 carats worth of brown diamonds.
Intrigued? Read on for a list of 10 jewellers with the most scintillating brown diamond jewellery.
Worn by French-Swiss actress Laetitia Dosch at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, this showstopping choker necklace from the Red Carpet 2018 collection features a lacework of white diamonds (43.04 carats) that leads into a cascade of cognac diamonds (86.96 carats) and brown diamonds (205.37 carats). Conceptualised by Chopard’s Co-President and Artistic Director Caroline Scheufele, the 18k white gold necklace is inspired by the roaring twenties and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal work The Great Gatsby.
Among the highlights of Cartier’s quirky Flora and Fauna collection is the Les Oiseaux Librérés necklace, which depicts a pair of lovebirds decked out an an eye-watering array of gemstones including grey mother-of-pearl, tsavorite garnet, mandarin garnet, and 93 brilliant-cut brown, orange and yellow diamonds amounting to 0.80 carats. They sit atop three briolette-cut brown diamonds and crafted with a rose gold chain dripping with 861 brilliant-cut white diamonds totalling 6.63 carats.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day last week, Damiani has released a Mimosa collection inspired by the flower — which blooms between late February and early March. Its highlights include a yellow gold ring bedazzled with a deliberately “random” assemblage of white and brown diamonds that wrap around the wearer’s finger. This design has also been extended to a bracelet and earrings.
Appealing name aside, Le Vian’s Chocolate Diamonds have proved immensely popular among celebrities, with a star-studded clientele including Jennifer Lopez, former US First Lady Michelle Obama, and singer-entrepreneur Rihanna — who wore a 27-carat Chocolate Diamonds necklace at the 2018 Grammys. We’re in love with this pair of earrings set in Strawberry Gold — Le Vian’s trademarked form of pink gold — and bedecked with loops of Chocolate Diamonds (0.5 carats) and white diamonds enclosing lustrous brown pearls.
This Milan-based jeweller has expanded its Nuvola collection — which comprises sustainably-sourced jewels set in Fairmined gold and incorporated with GIA-certified diamonds sourced from Responsible Jewellery Council members — with the addition of brown diamond designs. These include pink gold rings embellished with brown central diamonds (in sizes of 0.50, 1.00 or 1.50 carats) ringed by smaller brilliant-cut brown diamonds set in blackened gold; and a pendant with a 0.50-carat brown sparkler. Matching stud earrings with 0.50 carats of brown diamonds are available too. These Nuvola jewels can be viewed at the brand’s recently opened Singapore flagship at Marina Bay Sands.
These exquisite Tettix earrings by German jeweller Otto Jakob were recently displayed at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) Maastricht, which ended yesterday (March 15). Inspired by grasshoppers, these jewels are meticulously crafted with green vitreous enamel wings adorned with backless plique-à-jour light pink enamel. The wings are painted gold on their reverse sides, and dangle from lentil-shaped ear clasps set with green tsavorites alongside yellow and light brown diamonds.
Also presenting its designs at TEFAF Maastricht was Hemmerle, a Munich-based jeweller that started out producing Royal Bavarian Court medals in the 19th century, before branching out into bespoke baubles embellished with coloured gemstones and unconventional materials. An example is this statement necklace from its latest collection, comprising a 14-carat yellow-brown navette-cut diamond paired with large moonstones. The chain is fashioned in knitted smoky quartz, with accents of copper and rose gold.
A jeweller to stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian West, Lorraine Schwartz has created bespoke designs for the biggest and brightest names in Hollywood. For the Brit awards last month, she put together a dazzling assortment of brown diamond hoop earrings and rings for singer-rapper Lizzo, who rocked a chocolate-themed ensemble. Lizzo opted to stack her rings and donned around 38 carats of brown diamonds.
Evoking memories of carefree spring days, this Buccellati Daisy silver bracelet coils gracefully around the wearer’s arm before culminating in floral motifs. Each bloom is painstakingly engraved to resemble petals, and at its heart lies a carpel comprising a brown diamond surrounded by gold vermeil details. The brand also offers a similar design featuring gardenia flowers.
This New York jeweller is known for flamboyant statement designs, and has created pieces for luminaries the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. His oeuvre also includes brown diamond jewels, such as this bold Manhattan Minimalism ring featuring a massive emerald-cut brown diamond diamond set against black enamel and festooned with clusters of smaller brilliant-cut sparklers at its corners. The band is fashioned in 18k yellow gold and platinum.
(Featured image: Le Vian)