Professional Jeweler Archive: The New Diamond Symphony

July 2000


The New Diamond Symphony

If a diamond’s scintillation and brilliance translated to music, what would it sound like? Gemprint found the answer to Gabi Tolkowsky’s question

Turning a diamond’s light waves into sound waves is a project tailormade to Gabi Tolkowsky, the renowned Belgian diamond cutter. He’s promoting the idea the sound waves can be transformed into a musical composition – the music of diamonds. If this music catches on, Tolkowsky hopes it will be another way for retailers to decommoditize diamonds and rekindle the public’s passion for them.

At the American Gem Society’s Conclave in Philadelphia, Tolkowsky described the way he came to plot the music of diamonds. On a trip to Savannah, GA, he visited the renovated Lucas Theatre. In the theater’s dome, Tolkowsky spied an architectural element that could be re-created into a diamond design. “The dome was created by an artist who happened to be an architect – but not a mathematician. It had 11 crown corners.”

Tolkowsky set on a quest to create symmetry in a diamond based on an asymmetrical premise. Within 45 minutes, he sketched his design for the new diamond, which he calls the “Savannah Diamond.”

Tolkowsky turned to Gemprint, a Toronto, Ontario, Canada, company that digitizes the unique pattern a diamond emits when illuminated with a laser. This digital plot provides a computerized identification system. Tolkowsky wondered if a sound unique to each diamond could be recorded to coincide with its unique “fingerprint.” Tolkowsky conferred with Gemprint scientists about the possibilities, and by the time he was ready to present Savannah with a diamond dedicated to the city, he had a melody (set to music with piano and guitar), to accompany it. “The people listening to the notes were mesmerized,” Tolkowsky said.

At the AGS Conclave, Tolkowsky told his audience to close their eyes: “That way you can really listen to the music.” Tolkowsky pressed play. Imagine a loose diamond, turning slowly, capturing and emitting flashes of light and fire, perfectly coordinated with bells pealing and the tinkling of wind chimes. But there was a melody in the air as well: not a mathematical Mozart, but an abstract, Debussy-like composition. Eerie, dreamy music for someone not thinking of the light display in a diamond.

“It is amazing because it sounds like crystals falling into each other and playing,” said Tolkowsky. “The visual glitter and flash that diamonds exhibit is not the only reason to perceive diamonds as unique and beautiful. Now a third sense [sound] can be put to use. It helps anyone appreciate this gift from God.”

Tolkowsky has applied for a patent on the musical translation and his system is protected, but he said future use must be handled with caution. “It should be built slowly so it can be respected. I don’t want this to be just another gimmick,” he stressed. “I want it to be used to serve the trade. It should be seen as a unique way for jewelers to express the virtues and beauty of diamonds with their customers. The language of romance and beauty – of feeling – is disappearing. The music of diamonds can bring it back again.”

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Gabi Tolkowsky, the noted Belgian diamond cutter, has a new way to appreciate the uniqueness of a diamond – through each diamond’s sound-wave pattern.
An architectural detail in the Lucas Theatre in Savannah, GA, inspired a diamond cut by Gabi Tolkowsky and spurred him to investigate the diamond’s musical properties.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications