Melancholia diamond was cut in Antwerp

Legendary film maker Lars Von Trier has a thing with diamonds. He wants to have one cut to represent each of his films. He worked with Mike Akiki from Antwerp Cut for his 2011 film Melancholia. The result of their brainstorming is a unique twin diamond that is currently on display at M HKA. Mike Akiki talks about the project and the artistry that went into cutting the diamond.

Mike Akiki: “The Melancholia exhibition at M HKA is absolutely unique in that it combines cinema and diamonds and brings them to the museum. This has never been done before and it was an honour to work with an artist like Lars Von Trier to make it happen. It’s not only a diamond shown as art—which is exceptional in itself—but it is also a virtual reality experience, allowing viewers to literally step inside the stone. The Melancholia diamond is large for a diamond, but still no larger than a thumbnail. Visitors first go through the VR experience, where they get to explore the diamond down to the molecular level. For the first time, people get to see a diamond as I see it: as a rare, age-old piece with its very own character.”

“Monument” for Melancholia

“Lars Von Trier commissioned this diamond as a representation of his film Melancholia. It’s his intention to have a diamond cut specifically for each of his films. He calls them “monuments”. I was so pleased when I first heard him use that term. Diamonds are usually thought of as objects. Very rare, valuable objects, but mere “things” nonetheless. My goal with Antwerp Cut has always been to elevate the diamond to the next level. I had done a project with diamonds-as-art before with the Antwerp Cut Collection. This was a beautiful next step for me.”

Rough and polished

“In the film Melancholia, a meteor collides with the Earth. There’s a magnificent image of the moment the meteor hits the atmosphere and you see this beautiful ripple effect. That’s what we wanted to evoke with the diamond as well. The stone we used is a very rare example of a twin diamond that was formed millions of years ago when two separate stones were pressed together deep below the Earth’s surface. The Melancholia diamond has a rough and a polished side. When you look closely, you can even see the ripples coming off of the polished side onto the rough surface.”

‘The stone we used is a very rare example of a twin diamond that was formed millions of years ago.’

Sculpting the diamond

“Working this closely with Lars Von Trier, I had to let go of everything I knew about diamonds and learn to feel what he felt, to really absorb what he was trying to tell me. Next, when I had found the rough stone, I started directing a very slow and careful cutting process, shaping it with every movement. You’re almost a sculptor at that point, bringing out what you know is inside the rough stone. It takes a trained eye and lots of experience to be able to do that. The work is both respecting what the diamond is, and making it technically as perfect as it can be to take it to the level of art.”

“It makes sense for this beautiful project to take place in Antwerp. Antwerp is the home of diamonds with such a rich history, experience and craftsmanship combined with advanced technology. At Antwerp Cut, I strive to combine that heritage with my own imagination and artistry, giving people the chance to discover a different kind of diamond. One that you don’t wear on your finger, but is truly inspirational and exceptionally beautiful. I’d love to invite people to go and see it, and to open their eyes to what more diamonds can be.”

Admire the unique diamond in M HKA #Antwerp until May 5th.

Discover more about Antwerp, the heart of the global diamond trade.

Filmmaker Lars Von Trier