It’s been eight years since Rio Tinto discovered stones of “enormous potential” in the Bunder deposit in the Madhya Pradesh state of India, according to Nik Senapati, managing director of Rio Tinto India . To commemorate the find, the mining company enlisted Madhya Pradesh-born jewelry designer Reena Ahluwalia of Ahluwalia Designs to create the Courageous Spirit collection comprising a necklace and earrings in 18k white and yellow gold. The pieces feature a total of 25.34 cts. t.w. polished Bunder diamonds and 2.8 cts. t.w. rough Bunder diamonds, including a 5.04 ct. t.w. round brilliant-cut white diamond and a 5.02 ct. round brilliant-cut cognac diamond.
Ahluwahlia was commissioned to design the pieces as an homage to the women of Madhya Pradesh. The necklace bears a diamond-encrusted disc that rotates on a central axis, while latitude and longitude coordinates of the deposit’s location are inscribed on the back. The collection marks a milestone in Indian diamond history, since nearly a century has passed since the country has mined, designed, and manufactured its own diamond jewelry. Rio Tinto partnered with Venus Jewel and Mahendra Brothers to cut and polish the stones, and the jewelry manufacturing was completed by Mumbai-based firm Uni-Design Jewellery Private Ltd.
“By harnessing the skill and creativity of India’s respected diamond artisans, these magnificent jewelry pieces are symbolic of an important new chapter in the country’s proud diamond history,” said Bruce Box, managing director of Rio Tinto Diamonds, in a statement.
The Bunder project could come into commercial production in 2016, creating as many as 10,000 jobs and producing up to 3 million carats a year, according to company estimates.
The Courageous Spirit collection is not available for sale, but will be showcased at a number of events worldwide—including red carpet appearances—throughout the second half of 2012.