The world’s brightest diamond cut was created by a Saskatchewan resident. Mike Botha, owner and CEO of Embee Diamonds in Prince Albert, designed the cut for the ultimate gemstone in 2006. I was delighted to be invited to the family-owned studio to cut and polish a diamond myself.
Father-son duo Mike and Evert Botha are well known in the world of diamonds. Evert works alongside his father in the family business and will take over as CEO when Mike retires in two years. Mike is a world-renowned master diamond cutter who has worked all over the world cutting and polishing diamonds since 1967. Originally from South Africa where he received his training, he has spent time in Moscow, Vancouver and the Northwest Territories before finally calling Prince Albert home in 2009.
Mike is known for the Sirius Star, the world’s brightest diamond, aptly named after the brightest star in the sky. Because diamond cutting had not changed since the early 1900s, Mike focused his craftsmanship as well as his expert knowledge in physics toward designing and developing a new diamond cut. Not an easy feat, but Mike understood the relationship between light and how it refracts within a diamond. After time spent experimenting, he created the Sirius Star, designed with 80 facets. What makes this cut so unique is that there are more facets on the bottom of the diamond, causing it to reflect more light.
After teaching me about diamond cuts, colours and clarity, Mike took me through the cutting and polishing process. First the gem is 3D mapped. Then it’s decided what the most valuable cut will be for the diamond, maximizing the biggest cut with the highest value. The diamond is then marked and bisected by a laser or a high-speed saw.
It is scanned again and each facet is then hand cut. Although technology is required, diamond cutters need to be highly experienced to be able to spot small imperfections within the diamond.
The diamond is then polished on a wheel with diamond cutting powder. It is a process that is very delicate and complex; a lot of experience is needed to ensure each facet has the appropriate depth. Once polished, it is checked under a microscope for criteria and flaws.
Currently employing four highly-trained diamond polishers, Embee Diamonds receives approximately 150 diamonds per month, each with its own unique serial number. Embee Diamonds has contracted work as far away as New Zealand, Hong Kong and Europe, but the majority of their business is centred in North America and the United States.
Most recently, Mike was commissioned to cut the Esperanza diamond, an 8.52-carat diamond found at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. It is one of the largest ever found in the state. Mike developed the shape and cut of the diamond, transforming it into a stunning 147-facet triolette that resembles a teardrop. An opportunity of a lifetime, the diamond is currently in Saskatchewan for final polishing. The diamond will be sold at auction in December, expecting to fetch $200,000 to $750,000.
For more information on Embee Diamonds, visit their website.