Unusual Shaped Rough Diamonds

Fish shaped rough diamondRussian diamond mining company Alrosa’s knack for recovering unusually shaped diamonds has scaled new heights with the discovery of a rough stone resembling a fish.

“In the photo, you see a very rare specimen: a rough-diamond crystal which pretends to be a fish,” the Russian miner wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. The company found the stone at the Udachnaya kimberlite pipe back in 2002, and has publicized it to illustrate the company’s ecology efforts, an Alrosa spokesperson told Rapaport News.

Alrosa ecologists release “hundreds of thousands” of fish into rivers in Yakutia and its other mining regions every year, the company explained in the post. In October, it plans to introduce “valuable” broad whitefish into Siberian waters.

Soccer ball shaped diamond Heart shaped round diamond-2 Skull shaped rough diamondLast summer, the company unveiled a rough diamond resembling a soccer ball in the middle of the World Cup taking place in Russia, for which it was a sponsor. The company also found a stone that looked like a skull in time for Halloween, and stumbled upon a heart-shaped piece a few weeks before Valentine’s Day this year.


Diamond-1758 caratThe recent discovery of the second-biggest diamond in history -- a staggering 1,758-carat stone -- is a remarkable find, but there's a debate over its real market value.

Lucara Diamond Corp. said it recovered the stone from the Karowe mine in Botswana. The previous holder of the No. 2 position, a 1,111-carat diamond called Lesedi La Rona, was also unearthed in Karowe.

However, the company said the newly found diamond is "a near-gem of variable quality," which means that, as far as diamonds are concerned, the size of the stone is not what's most important.

"There are several qualities, also color and clarity, in addition to size, as well as how it can be cut," Rob Bates, a blogger on the diamond and jewelry industries, told CNN. "In the case of the Lesidi, even in its raw form it looked kind of beautiful. In addition to being large, it had wonderful color and clarity."

That's not exactly the case for this diamond, according to Eric Emms, a gem trader and industry commentator.

"The clarity looks to be poor (from the photo)," he said."'Near-gem' is a term for a crystal which will produce very little gem quality faceted."

The only larger diamond previously unearthed was the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was eventually cut into smaller stones, some of which are now part of British royal family's crown jewels.

Natural diamonds are typically rated as gem-quality, near-gem or industrial-quality, explained Paul Zimnisky, an independent diamond analyst in New York.

"Most gem-quality is used as jewelry, industrial-quality is typically used for abrasive application. Near-gem can be used as lower-end jewelry or for individual purposes," he said.

While gem-quality diamonds can sell for hundreds or thousands of dollars per carat, and fancy colored diamonds can be in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per carat, industrial diamonds tend to sell for only about $1 per carat, he added.

"In this case, the recovered gem appears to be near-gem quality with portions appearing to be gem-quality. So until the true quality of the whole stone can be determined, it is very difficult to value it," he said.

Still, Lucara's discovery is notable in showcasing the company's ability to unearth huge diamonds, as Eira Thomas, Lucara's CEO, pointed out in the company statement.

"Karowe has now produced two diamonds greater than 1,000 carats in just four years, affirming the coarse nature of the resource and the likelihood of recovering additional, large, high quality diamonds in the future," she said.

It also shows how unpredictable nature is, for a gem this big to have survived in the Earth's crust, Bates says.

"It is a handful of companies who are able to economically cut it in a way that produces the most valuable -- but it's always an exciting moment when a mine coughs up a huge stone like that. It's good for the business, good for the country of Botswana."

Would 302.37 carats of diamond be enough of a statement for you?

Graff Lesedi La Rona 302.37 caratLuxury jeweler, Graff, has unveiled its latest, and perhaps its greatest, big diamond creation, the “Graff Lesedi La Rona,” a 302.37-carat D-color, high-clarity stone that is being lauded as the world’s largest square emerald cut diamond. The London-based company also says it is the “largest highest clarity, highest color diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).”

Laurence Graff, the prestigious diamond dealer and founder of the eponymous international luxury jewelry brand known for its gem-centric high jewels, who has cut and polished the majority of the 20 largest diamonds discovered this century seemed humbled by his latest creation.

“My love affair with diamonds is life-long and crafting the Graff Lesedi La Rona has been an honor. This diamond, our diamond, is beyond words,” he said. “All our expertise, skill and accomplishment went into crafting this incredible diamond masterpiece, which is extraordinary in every way. The Graff Lesedi La Rona is an exceptional diamond with an exceptional cut and exceptional proportions, earning its place in history as the largest and finest of its kind in the world.”

The gem's D color grade (meaning colorless) is the highest end of the GIA color scale. It is rare for any diamond to achieve this, much less one of more than 300 carats. While Graff noted its high clarity, meaning that the diamond has few or no inclusions or blemishes, it did not reveal the GIA clarity grade.

It is the principal diamond cut and polished from the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona rough, which was purchased in 2017 by Laurence Graff. In addition to the main diamond, 66 “satellite” diamonds have been polished from the rough, ranging in size from under a carat to more than 26 carats. Each diamond is inscribed with “Graff, Lesedi La Rona” and its unique GIA number, and is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity from Graff and the GIA. Graff began alerting its clients in November 2018 that they can purchase jewels with stones from the rough gem.

The 1,109-carat rough diamond, about the size of a tennis ball, has had a brief but storied existence. It was discovered by Lucara Diamond Corp., a Canadian diamond mining company, in November 2015, at its Karowe mine in Botswana. It is the largest gem-quality diamond discovered in more than 100 years and the second-largest in history. Its size is exceeded only by the legendary 3,016.75-carat Cullinan Diamond, mined in South Africa in 1905, which produced nine major diamonds that are part of the British Crown Jewels.

“There is a huge amount of good fortune involved in unearthing a rough diamond of this extraordinary beauty and importance,” Laurence Graff said. “We had an immense duty to cut the very, very best diamond imaginable from this rough.”

Graff-Lesedi-La-RonaThe gem was given the name, Lesedi La Rona, which means “our light” in Botswana's Tswana language.

Lucara Diamond Corp. originally tried to sell the Lesedi La Rona in a standalone public auction at Sotheby’s London on June, 2016. It was an unusual way to sell a rough diamond. Normally, rough diamonds are sold privately to diamond dealers who then cut and polished it into a finished gem. It created controversy among these dealers. One of those who criticized the sale was Laurence Graff. It had an estimate of more than $70 million. However, it failed to meet its reserve price as bidding stalled at $61 million.

The Graff gemologists and master polishers spent 18 months analyzing, cutting and polishing the stone in order to reveal the 302.37-carat Graff Lesedi La Rona

In September 2017, Graff Diamonds announced that it had purchased the diamond for $53 million in a handshake deal between Graff and William Lamb, former president and CEO of Lucara. Once purchased, the diamond was moved to South Africa where Graff’s cutting and polishing processes are carried out.

Laurence Graff said he was confident the Lesedi La Rona would result in “sensational polished gems.” In May 2016, he purchased a 373-carat rough diamond that was believed to have come from the same rough stone. His experience with this gem gave him enough confidence to think he could predict what the Lesedi La Rona might produce.

Even with this experience the Lesedi La Rona presented a unique challenge for Graff’s gemologists. They had never analyzed a stone this large. In fact it was so large that it couldn’t be viewed with existing equipment. A scanner had to be custom built specifically for the Lesedi La Rona with new imaging software capable of probing its immense interior.

With the new equipment, the gemologists were able to explore deep within the diamond and map out the maze of imperfections. They used this information to plot which cuts would yield the largest and highest clarity diamonds possible.

At first, the technical analysis of the Lesedi La Rona concluded that a 300-carat diamond wasn’t possible. However, Laurence Graff said he was convinced that this exceptionally rare weight could be achieved and challenged his staff to accomplish this.

After months of analysis, the plan for cutting and polishing the diamond was so precise there was no room for error. It took hundreds of hours just to polish the table facet, the largest facet at the top of the diamond.

By the time the final finessing of the diamond’s facets had taken place, more than 18 months had elapsed.

”Cutting a diamond of this size is an art form, the ultimate art of sculpture,” Laurence Graff said. “It is the riskiest form of art because you can never add and you can never cover up a mistake, you can only take away. You have to be careful and you have to be perfect.”

The GIA identified the Lesedi La Rona rough as part of an elite group of “super deep” diamonds formed three times deeper than most other diamonds. Rare emissaries of geological information, Graff donated fragments of the Lesedi La Rona to the Smithsonian Institute to help advance diamond research.

Rare 20-carat blue diamond unveiled in Botswana

Okavango-blue-diamondBotswana's state-run Okavango Diamond Company unveiled 4/17/2019 what is believed to be the largest blue diamond ever discovered in the southern African country, one of the world’s top producers.

The 20.46 carats, oval-shape fancy precious rock has been named "The Okavango Blue" in honour of the Okavango Delta, the country's wildlife-rich world heritage site.

From all coloured diamonds, blue ones are the most unusual and that’s why the miner says its find is one of the rarest in the world.

"It is incredibly unusual for a stone of this colour and nature to have come from Botswana – a once-in-lifetime find, which is about as rare as a star in the Milky Way," Okavango Diamond Company managing director Marcus ter Haar said in a statement.

"It sits in the very top bracket of all-time historical blue diamond finds [especially because] only a very small percentage of the world's diamonds are classified as fancy colour," he noted, adding the company expects to sell it by the end of the year.

In 2016, a massive intense blue diamond, known as The Cullinan Dream, sold for $25.4 million at a Christie’s auction in New York, breaking all records and becoming the most expensive gem of its kind ever sold at auction.

Last year, a 6.16-carat blue diamond, secretly passed down through European royalty over three centuries, fetched $6.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva — $1.4 million more than what experts expected it to be sold for.

Hope DiamondArguably, the most famous is the Hope Diamond, also known as Le Bijou du Roi ("the King's Jewel"), Le bleu de France ("France's Blue"), and the Tavernier Blue. The massive, 45.52-carat, deep-blue diamond is now kept at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Botswana, which was overtaken by Russia as the world’s top diamond producing country in 2014, is grappling with aging mines, as well as power and water shortages.

Still, diamonds are the country’s main source of income and account for about 80% of its exports.

The nation is home to some of the world’s most prolific diamond mines, including Lucara Diamond’s Karowe operation, where the now-famous Lesedi la Rona, the second-largest gem-quality diamond to ever be found, was unearthed in 2016.

Besides diamonds, the country also produces nickel, copper, coal and iron ore.

Gem Diamonds Recovered a Record Number of Huge Diamonds This Year

Gem_diamondsIt was a great year for Africa-focused Gem Diamonds (OTCMKT:GMDMF and L:GEMD), as the company recovered a record number of huge precious stones from its flagship Letšeng mine in Lesotho.

With the 2 latest, a high quality 101 carat and 71 carat white Type IIa diamond, both recovered within a 24-hour frame, the number of stones over 100 carats dug up at the mine reached a record 14, the company said last Wednesday.

Letšeng is the world’s highest USD per carat diamond mine.

Lesotho Legend photoEarly this year, it found the 910-carat “Lesotho Legend”, 1 of the largest diamonds ever discovered, which sold for $40-M.

Other big finds were a 115-carat diamond found in May, and a 138-carat rock unveiled in August.

Since acquiring Letšeng in Y 2006, Gem Diamonds has found now five of the 20 largest white gem quality diamonds ever recovered, which makes the mine the world’s highest USD per carat kimberlite diamond operation.

At an average elevation of 3,100 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level, Letšeng is also 1 of the world’s highest diamond mines.

The biggest diamond ever found was the 3,106-carat Cullinan, dug near Pretoria, South Africa, in Y 1905. It was later cut into several stones, including the First Star of Africa and the Second Star of Africa, which are part of Britain’s Crown Jewels held in the Tower of London.

Lucara’s 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona was the 2nd-biggest in record, while the 995-carat Excelsior and 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone were the 3rd- and 4th-largest.


Bulgari Blue Sells for $18 Million at Christie’s

Bulgari-Blue-ChristiesA Bulgari diamond ring surpassed its estimate at Christie’s in New York on Wednesday, bringing in more than $18 million.

The cushion-cut, 8.08-carat, fancy-vivid-blue piece was the event’s top seller at $18.3 million, beating its presale estimate of $13 million to $18 million. It completes a mixed week for colored-diamond sales after a 10.62-carat, fancy-vivid-blue diamond — estimated at $20 million to $30 million — failed to find a buyer at Sotheby’s in New York on Tuesday.

Pink Heart Diamond 15.56 caratProceeds at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction came to $69.2 million, with 95% of lots sold by value. Those items included a heart-shaped, 15.56-carat, fancy intense-pink diamond-pendant necklace, which garnered $9.5 million against a presale estimate of $9.5 million to $12 million.

Other notable lots included a 28.70-carat, D-color, VVS2-clarity, type IIa diamond ring from the estate of art collector Lee Vandervelde. That piece sold for $2.1 million, against its $1.5 million to $2.5 million presale estimate, with proceeds benefiting the Los Angeles-based Children’s Hospital and Children’s Institute.

Diavik Foxfire earringsA pair of earrings weighing a combined 77.71 carats, cut from the 187.63-carat Diavik Foxfire — North America’s largest known gem-quality rough diamond — brought in $1.6 million. Its original valuation was $1.3 million to $3 million. An 8.09-carat, fancy-vivid-yellow diamond ring by Gillot & Co. achieved $1.3 million, versus its presale estimate of $900,000 to $1.2 million.

Belperron tube braceletA diamond “tube” bracelet by Suzanne Belperron went for $852,500, smashing its expected price of $200,000 to $300,000 and setting a world auction record for pieces by the designer.

“The excitement and prices achieved in our New York sale tonight, including the exceptional price achieved for the sensational fancy-vivid-blue diamond ring by Bulgari, and the world auction record realized for Suzanne Belperron, mark a perfect ending to our successful year of global jewelry auctions,” said Daphne Lingon, head of jewelry for Christie’s Americas.

Ref: Rapaport 

India Is The Leading Diamond Cutting and Polishing Country

Diamond-cuttingIndia increased its dominance in cutting and polishing last year due to relatively low costs that gave it a competitive advantage over China, according to Bain & Company.

The Indian diamond-manufacturing industry grew 11% in 2017, outpacing the Chinese market, which increased 2%, Bain reported. That left India with more than 90% of the market, versus China’s low-single-digit-percentage share, the consultancy firm said in its 2018 Global Diamond Report, which it published last week in partnership with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC).

India’s manufacturing sector has benefited from cheaper labor, improvements in workers’ skills, advances in technology, and a favorable regulatory environment. Those factors also helped the country increase its production of large stones, a more profitable segment, Bain explained.

Relatively easy access to financing further contributed to the 2017 rise, as credit enables cutters’ to buy and process larger rough diamonds. While banks tightened lending in 2018, the more transparent and financially healthier companies have managed to weather that challenge, it added.

Costs in China are also low by global standards, but are still higher than in Indian hubs such as Surat, putting pressure on the ability for the country to grow its sector, Bain said.

Polishing in other countries, such as the US, Belgium and Israel, declined 6% due to high costs and an ageing workforce, the report continued. Africa failed to gain significant market share due to low productivity and relatively high costs.

Global revenues from cutting and polishing rose 2% in 2017, with manufacturers realizing profit margins of 1% to 3%, Bain said.

Winston Pink Legacy Sets New Record at Auction

The-Pink-Legacy-1On Nov. 13, Christie’s Geneva sold the much-hyped 18.96 ct. fancy vivid Pink Legacy (pictured) for $50.3 million to Harry Winston—setting a new per-carat record for a pink diamond.

Its new owner has since rechristened the rectangular-cut VS1-clarity gem the Winston Pink Legacy.

The hammer price came after what Christie’s called “five minutes of spirited bidding” and topped the diamond’s pre-auction estimate of $30 million–$50 million.

“The room was packed solid as private collectors and dealers wanted to see the sale of the pink diamond,” says Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Asia. “In the end it was purchased by Harry Winston, bidding against Vickie Sek, head of Christie’s jewelry department in Asia. There were many underbidders, all on the phone, with our Geneva- and London-based colleagues.”

Pink-Legacy-DiamondThe Legacy’s $2.7 million per-carat price tops the previous record holder, the 14.93 ct. fancy vivid Pink Promise, which fetched $2.1 million a carat in Hong Kong last year. But the Legacy’s overall price still fell below the $71 million garnered by the 59.5 ct. fancy vivid Pink Star, which in 2017 set a world auction record at Sotheby’s not only for a pink diamond but any kind of diamond or gemstone.

Christie’s described the Pink Legacy as “descended” from the Oppenheimer family, which formerly controlled De Beers, though it did not specify which family member owned the gem. Before its sale, the family had sold it to a private collector.

This is at least the third major diamond that has been purchased by Harry Winston since it was bought by the Swatch Group in 2013.

“We are proud to continue in the Winston tradition of acquiring the finest gems in the world,” said Winston president and CEO Nayla Hayek in a statement. “Tonight, the Winston Pink Legacy joins our incredible legacy collection, which began with the acquisition of the 101 ct. D flawless Winston Legacy diamond at Christie’s in 2013.”

Winston also bought a 13 ct. fancy vivid blue for $24.2 million in 2014.

Ref: JCKOnline.com

19 carat Pink Legacy Diamond for Sale

Pink-Legacy-DiamondChristie’s expects to sell a rare fancy-vivid-pink diamond for between $30 million and $50 million, potentially setting a new world auction record price for the color category. 

The rectangular-cut, 18.96-carat, type IIa Pink Legacy, belonging to the Oppenheimer Family, will lead the Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva, the auction house said Tuesday. The stone is the largest fancy-vivid-pink diamond Christie’s has ever auctioned, describing the piece as internally “very pure.” 

“The discovery of this previously unrecorded and remarkable diamond will cause immense excitement with collectors and connoisseurs of diamonds around the world,” said Rahul Kadakia, international head of jewelry at Christie’s. “Its exceptional provenance will no doubt propel it into a class of its own as one of the world’s greatest diamonds.” 

The Pink Promise, an oval-shaped, 14.93-carat, vivid-pink diamond, which Christie’s sold at its Hong Kong auction for $32.5 million in 2017, holds the current record. 

Christie’s will sell the Pink Legacy at its Magnificent Jewels auction on November 13 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva. The auction house will preview the stone in Hong Kong, London, New York and Geneva between September 28 and November 13. 

Famous 6.16 Carat Farnese Blue Diamond To Be Sold At Auction

Farnese Blue diamondThis spring, the Farnese Blue, a diamond with an incredible historic pedigree, will be offered by Sotheby’s—marking the first time the gem has ever been brought to auction. Originally given to Queen of Spain Elisabeth Farnese by the Philippines to celebrate her marriage to King Philip in 1714, the gem was later owned by a descendant of France’s last queen, Marie Antoinette. Over the next 300 years, it was furtively passed down through four European royal families. The 6.16-carat, pear-shaped dark gray-blue diamond was hidden in a casket as it traveled through Spain, France, Italy, and Austria.

“With its incredible pedigree, the Farnese Blue ranks among the most important historic diamonds in the world,” said Dr. Philipp Herzog von Württemberg, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and managing director of Germany, in a statement from the auction house. “From the first minute I saw the stone, I could not resist its magic, and as such, it is a huge privilege to have been entrusted with this sale.”

Blue has often been identified as the color of kings and in the 17th and 18th centuries, blue diamonds were viewed as the ultimate royal gift. Like the famous Hope and Wittelsbach diamonds, the Farnese Blue was certainly found in the famed Golconda mines of India, which was the sole source of diamonds until the discoveries in Brazil in the 1720s.

“It is difficult to put into words the excitement of holding between thumb and forefinger a gem discovered centuries ago, knowing it originated in the legendary Golconda diamond mines of India,” said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s international jewelry division and co-chair of Sotheby’s Switzerland. “This stone has witnessed 300 years of European history and in color is reminiscent of historic Golconda blue gems such as the Hope Diamond.”

The legendary diamond will be offered at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on May 15. Its estimated value is between $3.7 million and $5.3 million.

Learn more about the historic Farnese Blue Diamond