The assumption the business economist and philosopher Dr. Ulrich Freiesleben invented two revolutionary new diamond cuts out of pure boredom would not do him justice. But, it’s not entirely off the mark. After all, one of the things that spurred him to come up with the two diamond cuts Context and Spirit Diamond was the impulse to give diamonds a different shape than the same old brilliant cut. Today goldsmiths worldwide appreciate and admire the two cuts.

Ulrich Freiesleben
Aesthetic, purist and valuable: The Context Diamond only changes the natural primordial form of the octahedron by cutting to have the total reflection of the light
Innovative, ready to take risks and on the trail of intrinsic values: Gabriele and Ulrich Freiesleben are real pioneers
This is not just a pleasant sparkle. The Spirit Diamond dazzles you with its brilliant light that puts all standard cuts to shame

There is a lot of flat land that leads to the workspace where his technicians and diamond cutters work. It is “the most beautiful diamond production workshop in the world”, as Dr. Ulrich Freiesleben states. It is state-of-the-art, bathed in brilliant light and clean as a whistle. If you cross the area surrounding the idyllic Westphalian city of Münster in Germany, there is no mountain, hill or the slightest rise that blocks your view. Fields and country roads as far as the eye can see, now and then there is a country inn that offers fresh eggs or a good solid midday meal.

Amazingly enough, this is the idyllic landscape where Dr. Ulrich Freiesleben and his wife Gabriele chose to locate their avant-garde diamond production workshop to. Some may find the surroundings boring or monotonous. But others find it calming because it gives you the time and space to pause and contemplate life. In any event, it must have had a meditative and highly inspiring effect on Gabriele and Ulrich Freiesleben because, many years before they began working on new diamond cuts, they made their departure from the illusory world of opulence and splendor and gave themselves the luxury of intrinsic values. They felt captivated by the question whether diamonds, beyond the apparent material value, did not represent intrinsic values that measured up to their personal ideas and attitudes.

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Living and working in the Münsterland region of Germany. This cross-timber country house is home to the Freiesleben Diamond Production Workshop
The work of the diamond cutter oscillates between tradition and high-tech

The force of primordial shapes

It was these deliberations that gave rise to the two diamond cuts Context Diamond (1991) and Spirit Diamond (1994). First of all, Ulrich Freiesleben was frankly bored by the overwhelming majority of diamonds in the diamond trade, almost all of which were cut into brilliants. 96% of all jewelry diamonds are cut these days according to the classical pattern coming down from the baroque period without changes. And, secondly, Freiesleben, with a master’s of philosophy, was prompted in his search for intrinsic values to take a very close look at the natural characteristics of the hardest known mineral with the most dense crystalline structure and track down its secrets.

The Buddhist wisdom of “if you can choose, choose the best” is one of the by-words of Gabriele and Ulrich Freiesleben. It confirmed them in their search for the ideal cut to enable them to experience the primordial properties of the diamond, namely clarity, purity, light and hardness. Gabriele Freiesleben said “what we wanted to do was change as little as possible of the natural form of the stone while arriving at perfect results”. That is why they chose the octahedron for their first project because one can only find it once in its ideal form in 100,000 rough diamonds.

Michael Zobel, Constance, Germany. Ear jewelry with Spirit Diamond, 1.20 ct
Franz Hirner Jewelry, Capetown, South Africa. Bracelet with 40 Context Diamond, 9.51 ct
Robert Paul Jewelry, Newcastle, Australia. Ring with Context Diamond, 0.74 ct
Canto goldsmiths, Windhoek, Namibia. Necklace, acacia wood with 3 Spirit Diamonds, 1.32 ct
Wilhelm Tentrup, Cologne, Germany. Atlas ring with Context Diamond, 0.85 ct
Batho Gündra, Worms, Germany. Necklace with Context Diamond, 1.05 ct
Kurt Neukomm, Burgdorf, Switzerland. Ring with Context Diamond, 0.90 ct
Michael Good, Maine, United States. Necklace with Spirit Diamond, 0.80 ct
Stuart Moore Gallery, New York, San Francisco, Newport, United States. Ring with Context Diamond, 0.99 ct
Autrum Gallery, London, UK. Necklace with Spirit Diamond, 0.90 ct

When working out the Context Diamond from the natural eight surfaces, Freiesleben and the renowned precious stone cutter Bernd Munsteiner made “searching for the light in the stone while still believing in its natural form” their motto. Instead of conventional cutting that saws through the octahedron in the middle to make two brilliants, Context Diamond only interlinks the natural facets of the upper and lower sides of the octahedron in mathematic intricacy to best reflect incident light. The luminosity of this square stone is – according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute – much greater than conventional brilliants. It is only surpassed by the Spirit Diamond, Freiesleben’s second diamond cut. The Spirit Diamond has 16 completely equal facets that generate a perfectly rapturous aura and maximum luminosity such as the rays of the sun arranged around the middle.

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Ulrich Freiesleben remarks that most diamond cutters are one-sidedly on the look-out for the largest number of carats. “The biggest problem was the search for cutters who were willing to explore unconventional avenues with us.” After a series of unsuccessful attempts with diamond cutters from Antwerp and Sri Lanka, Gabriele and Ulrich Freiesleben decided to set up their own diamond production workshop in the Münsterland region of Germany. And then as now, it proved to be a good idea to search for cutters among similar professions such as precision mechanics or dental technicians and train them to become perfect and unprejudiced diamond cutters. Now there are three cutters, the production manager Masataka Matsumiya and some robots who every day face the challenge of eliciting the exclusive cuts from the diamonds with precision work.

Stones as part of the jewelry design

Ulrich Freiesleben did not want to develop just any new glittering cuts in the 90’s. He wanted to create “new diamond experiences” that bring out the best of the uniqueness of diamonds. And the sense of excitement for his stones that reaches him from all over the world shows that his ambitious project has been successful. About 400 customers from all around the world buy their diamonds from the doctor of philosophy because they are willing to pay much more money for this niche product than for other brilliants of the same size.

Telgmann Goldsmith’s Art, Kamen, Germany. Ring with Spirit Diamond, 1.12 ct
Jewelry by Lothar Kuhn, Esslingen, Germany. Ring with Spirit Diamond, 1.045 ct. Necklace with Spirit Diamond, 1.25 ct. Necklace with Context Diamond, 0.825ct

“We are like one big family brought together by a love for something special.” That is what Ulrich Freiesleben says about himself and the goldsmiths who prefer to use his diamonds for their jewelry. They all have discovered what energy and sources of inspiration are hidden in the Context and Spirit Diamonds. Gabriele Freiesleben has had the experience with customers that “when a lot of creative Persons work with our stone cuts, they develop their jewelry design centering around the diamond instead of brilliants that lust dot the sparkling “I” on a piece of jewelry. They often tell us that they experience our diamonds much more as a part of a holistic jewelry design than with other cuts”.

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You can find devotees of Freiesleben’s diamonds all over the world from Japan to South Africa and from California to Australia. Of course, you can see regional and individual differences in the way Context and Spirit Diamonds are used depending upon specific proclivities or the jewelry culture in a particular country. But, all of these designs bear witness to the love to this absorbing mineral and its virtually natural, meaningful and valuable design in the best sense of the word.

www.freiesleben.com

www.autrumgallery.co.uk

www.michaelzobel.com

www.stuartmoore.com

www.robertpaul.com.au

www.telgmann.de

www.neukommdesign.ch

www.kuhnstuecke.com

www.franzhirner.com