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Rough Luxury

Last month, in front of a select audience, Louis Vuitton was presenting an extraordinary uncut diamond as big as a tennis ball. Few people saw it, but everyone spoke about it. The strategy of the house consisted in entering the exclusive fine jewelry market, a luxury segment still out of reach of the permanently expanding LVMH group. Baptized “Sewelô”, which means “rare discovery” in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana where it was mined, the diamond has not been cut yet, or even polished, and remains mysteriously hidden under its original black carbon wrapping. Weighing 1758 carats, or about 350 grams, it isthe second-biggest diamond of the world, and should produce many LVMH pieces of jewelry.

What is striking isn’t the size but the fact that for the first time, a rough diamond is shown, even though at this stage it looks like a black rock, just as puzzling as a Soulages painting. Isn’t this choice perfectly meaningful of our time’s attachment to everything that is raw? In the course of the last century, the diamonds for sale were always impeccable. Today, they claim to be “soil-grown”, and they visually prove it. Chocolate bars and biscuits like to show imperfect shapes, revealing their handmade origins. In fashion shops, cotton and threads are staged, and it’s all about merino wool, grade A cashmere and raw denim. As far as interior design is concerned, rough lumber, rough concrete and raw metal are the preferred choices of urban people who want to give an sustainable, cool or artistic touch to their interior. Some restaurants bear the name “rough” to show their will to focus on ingredients and raw materials. Because here it is, the newest magic equation: “raw equals genuine“, which is far from being anecdotic in a world full of concepts.

Aren’t we going beyond the world of « appearance » to enter the world of « matter » ? Entering this dimension means knowing origins and know-how, being interested in those who were there before us and giving men the power of transforming. A way of reminding that rough is the measure of all things. We had somehow forgotten this…

So What ?

Our current craving for rough is to interpret as another sign of our desire to return to the origins and to a kind of simplicity. It was about time...

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