Can you tell us a bit about the background and history of Roughdiamonds.dk – when, how and why was it founded?
I never saw myself as an artist in any other way than my efforts to make ends meet in my life. I was born curious; my parents were 20-year-old hippies when they had me. Early on, they taught me to see the possibilities in the uneven, ill-adjusted and all that runs counter to so-called normality. I believe desire seeks the difficult, almost as if to prove that something else can be.
It all happened in an instant in 2007 that I decided to be more than a mother of two working in the film industry and to become a totally self-taught jewellery designer. My luck was the raw stones because most of us only see diamonds that are cut and polished to not-so-natural perfection. So one evening, my husband came home with a set of photos of raw diamonds he had shot in Belgium’s diamond trade capital, Antwerp. I fell in love with the power and the beauty of these stones on the spot. They are just like Mother Nature made them millions of years ago. I had a glimpse of what’s behind the glittering façade of, I dare say, ordinary diamonds, and out of the blue came a wish to work with the stones.
I have to admit that going into the world of jewellery design was an uphill challenge. However simple a diamond appears in the shop window, getting it there isn’t simple at all. I have been close to giving it all up several times because I had one thing in mind, and Mother Nature offered something completely different. Many professionals thought I was mad but, then again, they were prepared to take a different view and break away from conventions, so together, we could come up with fantastic designs. Luckily, I have had the good fortune of working with some of the best goldsmiths and fitters in the business. People who are patient enough to meet my ignorance and help me break my boundaries and sometimes even their own.
There’s always something great about starting from scratch, although it was hell. I did not know anything about anything, and everything I wanted to do was not possible in the beginning. The goldsmiths and diamond setters I work with are schooled in the scars to make things in one way. Then there was me who goes against all conventions. They thought I was mad. However, they were also forced to look differently at things in the end and try to break some conventions, then it became possible to create some fantastic designs
Then again, I grew up in Denmark, and I am influenced by Danish Design; the wish to make any design object as simple as possible. I am an open human being, show me something else, and I’ll adapt, seeing the stones in a whole new light.
I view the world with non-judgemental inclusivity as it is my home and every human being on Earth is part of my family. I have a boundless approach to that which others may perceive as different.
Where do your passion and love for jewellery and rough diamonds stem from?
When my husband returned home from a working trip to Antwerp with his suitcase full of pictures of the rough diamonds, I instantly fell in love. My love is for those that remain unchanged and are not afraid to show all their beautiful personalities and life stories, just like Mother Nature created them. I couldn’t find anyone creating jewellery with rough diamonds of gem quality, meaning the 20% of all diamonds that are good enough to be cut, so I decided to create my own ring. Almost 13 years later, we are here in the heart of Copenhagen with my own Hidden Boutique and workshop with my team of 3 and love stories from all over the world.
Through my exceptional business network, I have the opportunity to handpick the rough diamonds in Antwerp before the stones are shipped on in the diamond pipeline for cutting and polishing. It is very difficult to get hold of the right ones, pushing the dealers to trade in a new way and to be able to buy for the best prices.
Because of the diamond’s multiple different nuances and forms, it is extremely important for me to find the individual stones that are complete in their own perfect shapes. It remains a magical experience for me to meticulously pick out the stones. I go by criteria of their natural forms, colours and sparkle, and just like Mother Nature created them, in order to be able to present a perfect design.
Please note, the diamonds we reject are sent back to be cut into regular diamonds. Makes regular diamonds seem, well, a little regular, doesn’t it?
What makes diamonds so desirable?
What is it about a small sparkling rock that makes women’s hearts melt? Perhaps it comes down to human nature. We always want what we can’t have. And Diamonds are one of the hardest things to get, literally. To create a diamond, the conditions have to be perfect – you need carbon to be subjected to massive pressure and extreme heat for some time. Let’s say…between 35 million and 1 billion years. They’re created about 200 kilometres beneath the Earth’s surface and very slowly rise up to the surface, but not that close. One still needs to dig a hole around 2 kilometres down to find one, and even then, you’ve got a greater chance of finding a needle in a haystack. But when you do eventually find something so unique and so rare as a diamond, you’ll know. So, why would you want to change it?
Tell me, what is the beauty of a rough diamond?
It is a picture of eternity and loving things as they are.
I only select stones that are naturally beautiful. For me, the “cut” is replaced by the diamond’s inherent shape, which is unique to the stone and one of a kind. My diamonds are so beautiful and already perfectly created by Mother Nature that to cut them would be like damaging a true treasure. Some inclusions which would be taken out by a cutter can actually be the “life” of a rough diamond and, when taken away, would make it look generic.
What are some of the company’s core philosophies, principles and goals?
My philosophy behind Roughdiamonds.dk is inspired by a line in a poem by Bob Marley. Like the Bob Marley poem, I want to bring rough diamonds to people’s attention – to make them see the unspoiled beauty in the stones and to love them like nature created the diamonds in the first place, in their rough state. I am proud that I have had the opportunity to bring my jewellery vision to the global market, with clients across the world purchasing our creations both through our online store and in person at our Hidden Boutique.
Today I take pride in doing business in a responsible, sustainable manner. Ethical luxury is the best description of fair trade jewellery, paying equal attention to social responsibility, quality and leading fashion aesthetics – my bid for a bestseller in the 21st century.
What are the Roughdiamonds.dk brand values?
Unlike other products in the market that spend years trying to find outstanding brand values, the Roughdiamonds.dk brand value is so very, very obvious. It is uniqueness and the celebration of what’s unique in all of us. Most people cherish the understated beauty and excellence in a raw stone. The way the stone is at peace with itself, capable of carrying the story of the person who once chose this particular rough diamond for her piece of jewellery. The brand value really is tantamount to what I want to show the world with my art: not to change what is already good, like the love of your life.
You are one of the few companies in the world that uses only rough diamonds – why is this important to you?
The story and how the natural rough diamonds are made from Mother Nature without any polishing or cutting. We also mainly use gem quality, meaning the ones you could polish if you wanted to do so. We meet many people in the jewellery or diamond industry, and even these people have never seen the diamonds in their raw state.
What are some of the biggest challenges this industry faces, and how does the company overcome these?
Lab-grown diamonds are a big challenge. And that they will take over the polished diamond market, making it even more difficult for the consumers to trust what they are buying and figure out the price levels between natural and lab-grown ones. But luckily, this will only make the natural rough diamonds even more interesting and powerful. But if they don’t find any new, bigger diamond deposits in the next few years, they say that the world’s largest diamond mines will be depleted by 2045.
What would you say you enjoy most about working in this industry?
The love stories and meaningful tales we hear and receive from our clients. And of course, also when I work with the rough beauties, studying each one’s unique character.
How do you select the diamonds you use, and where are they sourced from?
Our diamonds have been made by the best craftsperson in the world, Mother Nature. Why try to change her exceptional work?
We don’t alter the rough diamonds in any way, we embrace their imperfections and showcase them as they come. That’s why our loving craftsmanship and energy is best focused on designing the frames to complement the meticulously chosen stones. Working closely with 2 goldsmiths and 1 diamond setter in our very own workshop, we transform ideas into unique, understated works of art. Every element, except the rock, is crafted by hand and designed to highlight the individual characteristics of each unique rough diamond
When I go through the careful selection process, I like to say that I save the rough diamonds. When I choose them, I look at their life, lustre and different personalities. When I design a piece, I always look at the rough diamond itself and see what it wants to become. Mother Nature is my Chief Designer, and I really listen to what she tells me to with her darlings.
The gold is crafted by hand, whereas the rough diamonds remain just like Mother Nature made them. After all, when you fall in love with someone, isn’t it best to just let her be who she is?
What about the company’s gems and their resultant jewellery items make them truly stand out?
I think it is the quality of the rough diamonds we are using – people think that “no but these must have been polished somehow because they have so much brilliance, clearness, or due to their forms”, but this isn’t the case. So I think this surprises a lot of people that they are not only small, matte and opaque sugar cubes. They even come with natural facets reflecting the light, the same as the polished diamonds.
The understated pieces of art we create around each rough diamond and their timeless classic expression, always with the diamond as the leading role in each piece of jewellery, is what makes them stand out.
Where is the jewellery made, what materials are used, and why?
All our jewellery creations are one-of-a-kind pieces. Each piece and the settings are created for each natural rough diamond – the diamond tells us what we can do. We work only with yellow gold, white gold, rose gold and platinum. Not silver, which is too soft for the de-formed, raw diamond. Polished diamonds all come with an edge for the settings, so you can always know how to set them, but the natural rough diamonds are all individual and de-formed, so they are much more demanding to work with compared to polished diamonds.
Who is involved in this process, and what role does craftsmanship play here?
I customize each piece to emphasize the natural beauty of the stone. I take my inspiration from the diamond itself and carefully develop the designs that best showcase the rough diamond’s natural beauty. And then I start involving my goldsmith and diamond setter. I consider the best angle to place the stone and determine the most flattering setting with the rough diamond as the main character. Although it requires significantly more labour, each one-of-a-kind setting is cast around the facets of the specific diamond, ensuring that you receive a truly exceptional piece.
My first step is to meticulously select the rough diamonds. Since so few people in the world have access to rough diamonds, I have the unique opportunity to acquire gemstones with different shapes and distinctive characters for my clients. Whereas other manufacturers care little about the natural beauty of the rough stone (as they will later cut and facet the rough diamond into almost a completely different gemstone), my job requires much more time, patience, and artistic integrity. I examine thousands of rough diamonds to find just one or two that are naturally striking enough to compliment one of my designs.
Unlike traditional jewellery, every one of our settings is designed and hand-crafted uniquely for that stone. It is a much more labour-intensive process, but it yields extraordinary results.
Roughdiamond.dk has made a name for itself as one of the only companies worldwide that focuses on rough diamonds, as other companies also work with other gemstones. I have built up my company over the years based on this goal, to spotlight diamonds in their most natural form. In saying so, I only source conflict-free diamonds that are certified by the Kimberley Process. Ethical sourcing is the highest priority for me, so you can rest assured when purchasing a piece of my jewellery.
Why should we be concerned about using conflict-free diamonds?
I personally only work with dealers that I completely trust without reservation. In the diamond industry, in general, a handshake is much more valuable than a signature. Our dealers are members of the Responsible Jewellers Council. They have to live up to high standards of human rights, labour rights, environmental impact, mining practices, product disclosure and, of course, all their diamonds have to be certified conflict-free. It is a very important issue for us, and the diamond industry in general has come a long way, but there is always more to do.
Tell us about the kinds of pieces you produce? Is there a specific theme or signature element present in all the designs?
I am studying many rough diamonds for the most unique in colour, shape and radiance and ultimately picking out very few from the heart of the earth. I go through great measures to find only the best natural diamonds to showcase in my pieces. Creating a one-of-a-kind rough diamond piece requires time and an unyielding dedication to quality.
Tell us about some of your all-time favourite designs or pieces…
My ring – I never thought I would wear a ring, even when I got married. I never thought rings suited my fingers or personality, but now I love wearing rings. I really think they suit me and my character, and I can 100% relate to this kind of jewellery. And then my earrings, I am always wearing them.
Who are your customers? And how do they buy from you?
Understated luxury with an edge is what I am selling. My clients are people who haven’t found a piece of jewellery they could identify with. But also people who are converting from the bling-bling. And these rough diamonds, they grow on you!
All kinds of people buy from us. Those who share a commonality with our brand and those who we encourage to embrace the idea of loving rough diamonds just like they are. And those who like understated luxury while knowing the value, daring to be different.
Customers can purchase our jewellery at the Hidden Boutique and workshop in the heart of Copenhagen, where they have the peace to fall in love. Or they can also shop exclusively selected pieces online.
Is there anyone in particular you would like to see wearing one of your pieces?
Most of my customers have one thing in common, for years and years they have been looking for a piece of jewellery that spoke to their hearts. They looked in vain and could find nothing that balanced their personality with their jewellery. After all, who wants the same as their neighbour if there is a cutting-edge alternative – something that helps their personal uniqueness shine through. In my showroom, they have found what they longed for all those years. An understated raw stone from the centre of the earth that helps them stand out full of love, imperfect and powerful. Rough diamonds symbolize uniqueness and remind us that we are loved for who we are and that this love never changes – and is suitable for wearing every day, even with joggers.
What’s next on the cards for the company – any upcoming collaborations or new product launches?
We have clients from all over the world, even through our website, where they do not hesitate to buy without seeing them in real life. So, we keep on developing unique pieces for our webshop.
In general, we aim to keep a good spirit and share the story about being unique and full of our imperfections. As Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It really sums up our mantra, which is to “love it like it is”.