Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

“Lodewyk van Bercken First Invented Diamond-cutting Machine

Tue 25 Jan 2022 | 02:55 PM
walid Farouk

Most of the jewelry produced before the 15th century AD, was set with rough diamonds, even when specialists discovered that diamonds were the only material that could be used to polish other diamonds, they relied on simple tools.

All this changed with the invention of the “scaif” cutting and polishing wheel, in the late fifteenth century, specifically during the year 1470 AD, when a Belgian-Jewish jeweler named "Lodewyk van Bercken” invented the “scaif polishing wheel”, a technological innovation that revolutionized the industry.

The “Scaif” is a metal machine similar to the “knife sharpening” wheel, and it is operated by a foot pedal by employing diamond powder or dust with olive oil on solid stones that are rotated quickly to act as diamond cutters.

That machine is also used in trimming and polishing their surfaces, and the modern era still uses the same a concept pioneered by Van Berken over 500 years ago.

The news of Brecken's invention spread throughout Europe, and he received many requests from European nobles to polish diamonds for them, and he soon discovered that neighboring Antwerp was a more suitable location for his project, as the port of Antwerp accounted for 40% of world trade, making it the transportation center in Europe.

Bercken's move and his success in establishing a diamond cutting and polishing business led to the development of Antwerp into the center of the world's diamond trade.

Bercken was the first to cut pear-shaped diamonds, and he was credited with the widespread use of diamonds in jewelry pieces, and he is also responsible for consolidating the Jewish traditions in the diamond industry, which continue to this day.

Bercken's most famous task was to cut three large stones commissioned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, France in 1475, the most famous of these being the Florentine Diamond, a double-breasted nine-sided, 126-sided, and weighing 137.27 carats.

Still standing in the port area of Antwerp, Bercken's statue depicts him in work clothes holding a diamond.

Few working-class men in history have received such an honor, and one retail diamond jewelry brand in Australia bears his name.

Translated by Ahmed Moamar