Bentley celebrates its Centenary with a thrilling jewel
From deep within the African landscape to the luxurious jewellery halls of Bahrain, the Bentley Centenary jewel wakes from a geological sleep of millions of years to a new life as a stunning diamond pendant.
Revealed at the Jewellery Arabia Show in Bahrain in its glorious gold and platinum setting, the 20.08 carat pear-shaped fancy-yellow diamond sparkles with the mystery and magic created by master cutters to reveal the brilliant beauty and fire of the stone.
The pendant's journey starts with Bentley designer Chris Cooke, who created the original designs for the magnificent gold and platinum settings displaying the unique jewel chosen to celebrate this year's centenary of Bentley Motors. He was inspired by the EXP 100 GT, the concept car that embodies the brand's vision of luxury mobility during the next phase of its future development.
The final designs are then given to expert Master Goldsmiths at Heinz Mayer in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, for a feasibility study. The first prototypes are crafted, checked and compared to the original design files. Through this painstaking method, the collaborative arts of graphic computer design and craftsmanship develop and fuse into one.
After the design is finalised and approved, the work of expert craftsman and women, trained in the hallowed traditions of jewellery-making which date back to Roman times, is brought into play. Wing-like shapes are meticulously honed in platinum, and bent to hold a cradle of 18 karat yellow gold, encrusted with 56 natural diamonds and a laser engraved insignia, to commemorate 100 years of Bentley.
This cradle is later put to use as the holder of the prestigious pear-shaped yellow diamond of 20.08 carats. A hidden treasure is added. An inside plank of yellow gold follows the curve of the platinum and is welded and soldered to it, eventually becoming one fluid shape. This cocoon will hold 30 full-cut round natural diamonds to surround the precious pear in the centre.
Yards of Italian platinum chain are then brought into the workshops where specially trained chain-goldsmith experts cut the chain into more than two dozen segments, before soldering them back together with 18 karat gold mountings. The exquisitely crafted chain holding 20 white round natural brilliant cut diamonds.
Together with a platinum clasp and two Bentley wing badges, holding the inscriptions of diamond weights and clarity, as well as the serial number, the chain is finally assembled. An equally well-crafted extender is added so that this masterpiece can both be worn at two lengths of 42 cm and 45 cm.
In the scientific wording of the laboratory report of the prestigious Gemological Institute of America, Bentley's Centenary jewel is: Natural fancy intense yellow even body Colour; Cut grade: Very Good; Purity or inclusion: VS2; Fluorescence: none; Total weight 20.08 carats. The remarkable yellow colour of the diamond is the result of nitrogen in its composition - the nitrogen molecules absorb blue light which differentiates the radiant yellow diamond from their colourless counterpart.
Polishing and setting the stone
After the work of the master goldsmiths is done, the mounting is brought to the polishing department, where a senior craftsman with a lifetime of dedicated attention and judgment brings out the first sparkle. Again, traditional tools, leather as well as modern polishing cloths, perform the task.
It takes hours of discussion with the team before the gemstone setter then goes to work. Years of training, decades of hands-on experience. A good eye. A steady hand and the heart of a lion are now called upon. Careful and expert craftsmanship ensures that no slip or unnecessary excessive force can harm the work that has gone into this piece of art. Carefully, the master setter bends and shapes the claws, to hold the stone securely. Masterfully, he gently forces them to sit in the place where they should secure the stone for the next 100 years or longer.
Now, the finished piece is once again brought to the polishing department. While the pre-polish was a demanding task that took several hours, the final polish will take well over a whole day. Now, the polisher executes his art with an extra dash to bring out the final sparkle of brilliance and scintillation.
Platinum requires different methods to apply polish than gold, and the polisher is the master of both techniques. It's a testament to the great skill-set of the Heinz Mayer craftsmen that the centre stone is protected while the surrounding metals are polished and the chain is kept apart from the high-revving polishing wheels.
Viewing the finished pendant
Finally, the work is done. After weeks and weeks in the workshop, the team of craftsmen and designers come together to view the result of their hard work. After they have reviewed their handiwork and accepted the result, all the moulds are destroyed to ensure that the masterpiece stays forever truly unique - and can never be duplicated.
The pinnacle of craftsmanship in platinum and yellow gold, with a fancy yellow pear-shaped natural diamond of 20.08 carats in the middle, and a further 1.00 carats of round brilliant-cut natural diamonds to adorn it finally come together, to salute the 100 years of Bentley in this one of a kind jewel.
GIA certified diamond identified
Cut grade of diamond: Very Good
Purity or inclusion: VS2
Total weight 20.08 carats
Platinum & 18 karat Yellow Gold setting
106 diamonds feature on the pendant - 20 in the chain, 30 under the centre stone and 56 in the surrounding setting.
Underside of the setting features the Bentley 100 Extraordinary Years logo
The Bentley emblem, inscriptions of diamond weight, clarity and serial number are engraved on the chain's plaque.
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