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The fire, life and brilliance of De Beers diamonds

The fire, life and brilliance of De Beers diamonds

When it comes to the diamond trade, there is probably no one more passionate about it than Andrew Coxon. The man has not lost his love and sense of wonder even after 50 very long years.

Coxon joined De Beers in 1968 as a young trainee, when he was only 18 years old. His views have not changed at all though. He says he is still fascinated with diamonds, as much as before.

The last half a century has seen him go from sorting diamonds in London to buying stones in South America, Russia and Europe. Over that time he has sold some of the world’s most famous diamonds.

Coxon was recently in Kuala Lumpur for the opening of the De Beers boutique in Suria KLCC. This new retail space showcases the brand’s jewellery in an atmosphere of welcoming elegance.

“As soon as I touched my first rough diamond, having touched all the other gemstones, I knew that diamonds are unique,” recalls Coxon, who is now president of the De Beers Institute Of Diamonds.

“Even after all these years of looking at them, I’m still excited when picking up a diamond. That passion has never changed. There’s just something magical about diamonds.”

De Beers

Andrew Coxon believes that choosing the right diamond is like falling in love.

Coxon, for one, is able to make diamonds come alive. Speaking on the subject, he weaves a tale of emotion and suspense – one that does not have to do with just the paper grade.

“The amount of information given by the grading laboratory is incredibly small. What it says is that it’s all about the 4 Cs. What it doesn’t talk about is the subject of beauty,” he points out.

To Coxon, it is how an individual perceives a diamond that matters most. He goes so far as to draw a parallel of picking the right jewellery piece with the act of falling in love.

“The way to understand it is like when you meet your partner for life. It’s not about a certificate, it wasn’t recommended by anybody. But there was something special about that one person, even before you two spoke.”

Coxon believes that a diamond chooses you. He says this happens when your right eye and your left eye – of which are apparently unique and see the same diamond differently – come to an agreement.

“So trusting your own eyes with diamonds is very powerful. Because it goes eyes, brain, heart. Then there’s this kind of a visual excitement. Like a bolt of lightning,” he explains.

Coxon also talks about diamonds as though they are living things. The journey a particular stone has been through defines its quality, of which, according to him, tells a riveting story.

“The poor Australian diamonds for example, they look like they really went through hell. When put on the polishing wheel for the first time, they are tougher than any other diamonds in the world. “Rather like Australians themselves. They are so tough because mother nature had given them a hard time. And yes, I can say this because I’m born in Australia,” he jokes.

He notes however, that diamonds from the African continent are naturally bright and beautiful. These have been polished by tumbling down the rivers, and worked on by the sea for millions of years.

As it is, the Vulcan set of the De Beers Legends high-jewellery collection comprises rough diamonds in their natural state, as well as polished ones. This is Coxon’s favourite.

“It makes use of the rough diamonds that I selected personally. They’re not just rough diamonds, but really fine, gem quality stones of extremely rare colours, which I know are one in a million,” he comments.

Together with the the other sets (Ra, Cupid and Celestia), the Legends high-jewellery symbolise the mythical ties that bind diamonds to the ancient gods. It tells of the magical qualities of diamonds.


“When people first found diamonds 2,000 years ago, they couldn’t polish them but they immediately felt that there is something magical about them. So that link with mystery and magic has been there a long time.”

That said, Coxon has another favourite jewellery piece. When asked about the diamond that chose him, he says it is the one that he bought his wife for their 17th anniversary.

“It was at the De Beers store opening at Fifth Avenue (New York City). I invited my wife to join me at the big party. And it was there that she tried on some of the big diamond rings we had.

“So I’m watching from afar. And suddenly, she held up her hand, looked up across the room and moved her hand. The diamond sparkled right across the room and I found myself saying, ‘Happy anniversary, darling. It’s yours’,” he relates.

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