Cracking ice – Diamond cutter makes journey to Grass Valley |

Cracking ice – Diamond cutter makes journey to Grass Valley

Fads and trends come and go, but diamonds have never lost their sparkle with consumers and the people who cut, polish and sell them.

James Arbaugh of Stucki Jewelers in Grass Valley said Friday that diamonds account for 50 to 55 percent of all stones sold, either loose or in rings, bracelets, necklaces and other settings.

That’s an impressive track record for a stone that was probably first discovered in India about 800 B.C. and is found in abundance in many parts of the world. So, what exactly is the allure?

The sparkle and brilliance of a high-quality diamond is a large part of their appeal, said master diamond cutter Brian McHardy. “If you buy a diamond, it will look exactly the same 100 years from now as it does today,” he said.

McHardy is on a two-day visit to Stucki on behalf of Hearts on Fire diamonds, demonstrating the process of cutting and polishing a diamond.

He believes diamond cutting is a combination of art and skill. “We’ve benefited greatly from improved technology, but the man still controls the tools,” McHardy said. “It does require good hand-to-eye coordination and manual dexterity.”

And a discerning eye when it comes to cutting because a bad decision can ruin the value of rough stone. “You have to examine the crystalline structure, the inclusions, to determine the cut,” he said. “A cutter has to look beyond the surface.”

None of this comes quickly. A native of South Africa, McHardy is the third generation of his family to work in the diamond industry. Still, he had to complete a five-year apprenticeship and work in the trade several years before becoming a master diamond cutter.

And he hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the stones. “They still have their allure,” McHardy said. “Diamonds truly are forever.”


What: Master diamond cutter Brian McHardy’s demonstrates of cutting and polishing of diamonds

Where: Stucki Jewelers, 148 Mill St., Grass Valley

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., today

Information: 272-1266

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