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Single Stone Repurposes Vintage Diamonds for a New Life

Ari Madilian

There’s been a lot of excitement around vintage these days. Celebrities are showing up on the red carpet in vintage designer creations and real people are shopping in thrift stores for unique finds that express their personal style.  This rise of interest in vintage has also flowed into jewelry as old cut diamonds — rose cuts, cushion, old mine and old European cuts— move into the spotlight.

Single Stone Starts Up

In 1988, Ari Madilian, who founded his California-based company Single Stone, was buying antique diamonds to cut them into modern shapes, but then he had an epiphany. “I realized how beautiful these stones really are and felt guilty changing them. I found a niche and became a source for vintage stones and jewelry,” explains Madilian.

The new found niche led to restoration of older pieces and creating vintage inspired jewelry that showcases these wonderful old cuts in contemporary settings. When reusing these diamonds, Madilian refers to them as “repurposed” rather than recycled. “To me, recycled sounds like a bunch of tin cans that you are turning into something else,” says Madilian. “We’re using the diamond again in a different piece, but it’s being used the same way. We give the stone a different purpose, it’s already had a life, now it’s getting a new life. It’s not a different existence, it’s just going to a different place.”

Diamonds Dictate Design

According to Madilian, old cut diamonds add uniqueness to a design and the firm’s approach is to let the stone dictate the styling. “The challenge is to highlight the imperfections,” comments Madilian. “We pick a stone and it may not be symmetrical so we create a design that is more organic. We make design decisions that will bring out the best in the stone, from choosing the metal color and type, whether to set it high or low, with prongs or as a bezel.”

Because they were hand cut without the technology that is used in diamond manufacturing today,  each vintage stone is going to have its own special charm. “Antique diamonds have a huge amount of personality, character and soul,” states Madilian.  “They are all one-of-a-kind, some have a misshapen outline or an imperfection. They’re not perfect, but neither are we, so why should we expect a diamond to be perfect, when we’re not?”

The Appeal of Imperfection

Yet it is these very imperfections, along with their storied past, that make antique and vintage diamonds so appealing to people. “The appearance of old cut diamonds is a lot different than modern brilliant cut diamonds.  Vintage diamonds are much more subtle in the way they sparkle. That subtlety is huge, modern cuts are not so subtle.”

Madilian points out that vintage diamonds account for about 2 percent of the icy stones that are out in the market today. ”We can cut vintage style diamonds today, but they won’t look the same.” concludes Madilian. “Vintage diamonds are getting rarer by the minute”

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