SEEKING CLARITY: Brendan Cunningham, from Cunningham Jewellers at Toormina, with a princess-cut diamond.
SEEKING CLARITY: Brendan Cunningham, from Cunningham Jewellers at Toormina, with a princess-cut diamond. Gemima Harvey

Learning from the master

HAVE you ever met someone with hero status?

An inspiration or icon? Maybe a master in their trade?

Some admire athletes, others artists or actors, but for second generation jeweller Brendan Cunningham, the hero of his story is a master diamond cutter.

When he first walked into the Antwerp-based workshop of sixth generation master diamond cutter Gabriel Tolkowsky, Brendan said he was like a kid in a candy store, only dosed up on awe, not sugar.

Brendan, from Cunningham Jewellers, is off to the diamond capital of the world again later this month to source more stunning pieces for his family shop.

He will see Gabi, as he is known in diamond circles while he is in Belgium.

Gabi was knighted by the King of Belgium for his services to the diamond industry.

He is a living legend, famous for designing, cutting and polishing the Centenary diamond, the most colour perfect and flawless modern-cut diamond in the world.

He is also responsible for crafting the Golden Jubilee which is the largest of all polished diamonds (weighing 545.65 carats).

The Golden Jubilee was later chosen as a gift for the King of Thailand to celebrate his half century on the throne.

Brendan described Gabi as relaxed, casual and humble.

"I sat beside him as he explained why he cut each diamond a certain way and talked about the emotions different diamonds would bring to a person."

The way Gabi perceives a diamond before polishing it to shape, brings to mind the famous quote by Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo - "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

Gabi has been quoted: "The first thing I do when I hold a diamond, is I look at it and ask it, 'What would you like to become?' It answers: 'The most beautiful.' I answer: 'You will be.'"



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