Tucked away in west Perth at Argyle Diamonds’ head office a team of polishers spin their diamond topped wheels and create pure pink magic. Diamond polisher Dave burger is a member of this elite team.
Dave has spent the past 39 years polishing diamonds in South Africa and Australia, 18 of these with argyle, and his speciality is pink diamond fancy cuts. In fact, the argyle pink diamond and Dave have something in common. His expertise, precision and artistic flare makes him, like the pinks, one of the rarest of his kind in the world.
“I was born in South Africa and started polishing diamonds at a factory affiliated with De Beers when I was 17 year old. It was very lucrative in the 196os with diamond polishers earning as much as doctors and lawyers. My first taste of Australia was a holiday to Queensland in 1979. We loved it so much we decided to come over here to live. I set up my own business in 1981 in Queensland polishing diamonds and stuck with that for several years.
In 1987 I was approached by Argyle so I came to Perth to have a look around. My first impression of Argyle was that the factory was really neat and modern and the company seemed to be very safety conscious, so I accepted the job. Working with the Argyle pink diamonds was completely different to South Africa’s large white and yellow diamonds. They were smaller, much more valuable and had their own challenges such as rare knotted inclusions which could crack the diamond if not faceted properly.
I’ve been polishing the vast majority of the Pink Diamond Tender stones for the past 15 years. It takes nerves of steel when you start polishing the larger pinks which may end up in the Pink Diamond Tender. I like to think of what I do as an art, taking the rough stone and determining the best shape to cut, to bring out the brilliance of the stone. I don’t have any particular shape I like best, although the oval is certainly the hardest to hand-shape. I recently created a new shape that we call the Argyle cut (not patented), it’s quite unusual and the few stones we’ve done have proven to be very popular.
I enjoy trying new cuts and once the stone is complete it’s really wonderful to get positive feedback. It does make you feel proud of your work and encourages you to try and do even better.”
Hand polishing large pink diamonds is a state of the art craft in which there are only a handful of experts world-wide. Years of training teach polishers the complicated method, but it is individual flare and the ability to make the most of each diamond that makes some polishers stand out from the rest.
Argyle pink diamonds are assessed on their colour, carat, clarity and cut, so the polisher must consider all four elements. A o.99 carat diamond is worth disproportionately less than a one carat diamond, and the deep pink or even red may be lost if too much of the diamond is polished away. The cut is equally important as it affects the brilliance and scintillation (fire) of the diamond. Argyle’s polishers create a wide range of cuts including the emerald, heart, oval, pear, princess, radiant and round brilliant.