The Famed Donnersmarck Diamonds Could Fetch $14 Million At Sotheby's Geneva

Donnersmarck DiamondsThe Donnersmarck Diamonds, a pair of fancy intense yellow diamonds with aristocratic provenance is being offered as part of Sotheby’s Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels November 15 at the Mandarin Oriental, Geneva.

The diamonds, formerly in the collection of the von Donnersmarck family, consist of a 102.54-carat cushion-shaped diamond and an 82.47-carat pear-shaped diamond. They are being offered as a single lot with a pre-sale estimate of $9 - $14 million.

Sotheby’s said these diamonds are attached to one of the great love stories of the 19th Century.

“These stunning diamonds carry with them a fascinating story, full of romance and determination over adversity, which could have inspired some of the greatest novels and operas, from Manon Lescaut to La Traviata,” said David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division.

Donnersmarck Diamonds-2The Donnersmarck Diamonds were part of the collection of La Païva, Countess Henckel von Donnersmarck (1819-1884), arguably the most famous of the 19th-century French courtesans, Sotheby’s said.

Born Esther Lachman, the Russian native of modest means arrived in Paris at the age of 18 and was introduced to the city’s cultural and artistic circles. She gained the friendship of many artists, including Richard Wagner, Hans von Bülow, Théophile Gautier and Emile de Girardin.

In the late 1840s, she met the Portuguese Marquis Albino Francisco de Araújo de Païva. They were married in 1851 but the marriage lasted only one day.

Now known as La Païva, It was around this time she met her future husband, German nobleman, Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck (1830-1916), one of Europe’s richest men. Their relationship was the talk of Paris high society and in 1871, the two were married.

Among the jewels von Donnersmarck gave to La Païva during the course of their marriage was the two yellow diamonds now known as the Donnersmarck Diamonds.

Following La Païva’s death in 1884, the count, who became prince in 1901, retained ownership of the diamonds. They remained in the Donnersmarck family for more than a century until they appeared at auction at Sotheby’s in 2007 where they sold for approximately $7.9 million. They will appear again in November after having been in a private collection for the past 10 years.

The Donnersmarck Diamonds come to the market at the same time that Sotheby’s is celebrating its 10th anniversary in sales dedicated to “noble jewels,” storied jewels of great provenance.

“Ten years ago, they were the star of the show when we launched our very first sale dedicated to Noble Jewels here in Geneva,” Bennett said. “I am delighted to mark a decade of success by presenting these exceptional diamonds once again. Jewels of royal and aristocratic provenance carry with them a special sense of history and these are no exception.”

In the same sale, Sotheby’s is offering “The Raj Pink,” the world’s largest known fancy intense pink diamond, weighing 37.30 carats with an estimate of $20 - $30 million.

Anthony DeMarco is a freelance writer and founder of Jewelry News Network. Please join me on Facebook, Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and Instagram @JewelryNewsNetwork.

via Forbes

ALROSA Reports Discovery of 34-Carat Yellow Diamond

  34.17 FVY rough diamondALROSA has found a 34.17-carat yellow diamond which is the largest fancy-colored rough diamond extracted by the company this year.

The rough diamond, extracted from the Ebelyakh alluvial deposit, measures 20.17 х 19.65 х 15.1 mm. It is a transparent intense yellow crystal with a small inclusion in the intermediate zone, the miner said.

Before the end of October, it will be delivered to the United Selling Organization ALROSA (USO ALROSA) in Moscow, where the company specialists will give it a more detailed and accurate assessment.

"This year for ALROSA has already hit the record in the number of large fancy-colored stones," said the director of the United Selling Organization ALROSA Evgeny Agureev. "We used to extract fancy-colored rough diamonds over 10 carats once a year on average. This year, we have already recovered several large fancy-colored diamonds, and this 34.17-carat yellow stone is the largest one so far.

"The company's specialists are still to study the stone more in detail, but we can say in advance that it is fancy vivid yellow, which is very rare and highly valued. The stone will become a worthy addition to our collection of large rare-colored diamonds that we are forming and will bring to the market."

Earlier this year, ALROSA also extracted a 27.85-carat pure pink diamond - the largest pink stone in its history.


Travel Carefully with Jewelry | Diamond Source of Virginia

Take camera photos of your jewelry so you can prove it is yours if lost and found. That photo might also be handy if you are questioned by customs when traveling internationally.

USA-StatesCheck with your insurance company to ensure you are covered where you are traveling out of the country. The chance of theft is greater outside the country and you do not want to find out the hard way you were not covered by your insurance company.

MuggingWhen traveling out of the country, keep in mind you are a visible target for snatch and grab. Some expensive rings are years of income in some countries and are just too tempting of targets.

When traveling, do not leave your ring by a sink when you wash your hands as you might forget, walk away, and lose it. Bring a polishing cloth or eye glass cleaning cloth to clean before and after you wear your jewelry.

Luggage-checkedWear or carry your jewelry with you, never put them in luggage to be transported by airlines, cruise lines, or other public transportation. Now that luggage must be left unlocked to allow security inspection, the risk of theft or loss when the bag falls open is greater than ever.

Hotel-safeWhen traveling, store unworn jewelry in the hotel’s safe-deposit box. Items left in hotel rooms are an open invitation for theft. Cleaning personnel are in your room when you are not. Doors can be rigged to not close completely. Master keys can be duplicated and professional thieve target jewelry which is easy to carry and turn into cash.


What Is Wrong with This Diamond? | Diamond Source of Virginia

I was recently contacted by a client who was wanting to sell a diamond he had purchased from some retailer. The diamond presents a good example of why we only recommend GIA graded diamonds and diamond buyers need to be knowledgeable about the diamond they buy. The images at the bottom show the IGL (International Gemological Laboratories) Report for the that diamond.

GIA Diamond Grading Report

We only recommend GIA graded diamonds to ensure accurate color and clarity grading. The diamonds with EGL, IGI, IGL, HRD, and other grading tend to be off 1 to 4 color grades and often a clarity grade compared to GIA grading. Of course, the retailers selling those types of diamonds fail to mention that when they promote their diamonds. The lower prices you often see with those grading reports are really a reflection of lower quality rather than a better value.

Cut Grade

There are several diamond industry accepted cut grade systems (GIA, AGS, HCA for example). These systems have years of exposure and acceptance in the industry. I know of no documentation of the IGL cut grade system so what does Excellent really mean? I tend to be wary of retailers and laboratories that make up their own cut grade systems without explaining the research and methodology behind the system. The bottom line is that not all “Excellent” ratings are equal.

For this particular diamond, I find it hard to believe that a round diamond with a 63.8% depth percentage can have an “Excellent” cut. Even if it was, we typically only recommend round diamonds with 62% or less depth percentage because over that number means the millimeter size of the diamond (what you see with your eye) is small for the carat weight (what you measure on a scales).

Medium Fluorescence

Typically, we only recommend Faint or No fluorescence for white diamonds because of the following two reasons:

1) Diamonds that glow, tend not to be as clear looking as those that do not glow. There is ultra-violet light in sunlight and in “black” lights you might see in a nightclub or in nail salons used for drying. Some diamonds with Strong or Very Strong fluorescence actually turn opaque when exposed to ultra-violet light, which is the extreme for the impact on “clearness” of the diamond’s appearance.

2) When buying expensive items like a house, you want to avoid buying a house that nobody wants because someday you might want to sell and would have a difficult time selling and would get a lower price than something in high demand. The same is true for diamonds. Since 95% or more of knowledgeable diamond shoppers are avoiding Medium or stronger fluorescence, if you ever want to sell your diamond it is much harder to find a buyer and you will get a lower price than with Faint or No fluorescence.

It is certainly the client’s choice on whether to buy a diamond with Medium or stronger fluorescence. We just want to be sure we have informed our clients of the potential impacts of that choice so they can make the best decision for them.

Clarity Enhanced

Technology today has enabled some in the diamond industry to improve the visual appearance of lower grade diamonds by laser drilling and fracture filling. This practice is referred to as “clarity enhanced.” These diamonds have been altered and are no longer considered “natural” diamonds. The treatments are somewhat permanent until they are heated by a jeweler’s torch (common in resizing or prong repair), exposure to acid or caustic substances, or re-cutting which can change the appearance of the diamond or even cracking or breaking. The cost of clarity enhanced diamonds should be at least 50% less than a natural, untreated diamond. Unfortunately, some jewelers fail to disclose when a diamond is clarity enhanced or do not mention that a treated diamond does not and will not appreciate in value or hold value like a natural diamond.

Laser drilled diamonds have a small tunnel laser drilled from the surface into the diamond to reach a large inclusion. This opening allows for further treatments including boiling out included crystals with acid. The passageway can also be used to pump a glass-like substance to minimize their appearance. Feathers and other eye-visible fractures can also be filled with the glass-like substance and are called fracture filled diamonds.

IGL cert

IGL cert-2


Insure Your Jewelry | Diamond Source of Virginia

Jewelry insurance covers loss, theft and damage.

  • Dish-washingAccidental loss happens when you least expect it. A single prong weakened by wear can suddenly release its hold on your beautiful diamond and you’ll not likely notice the loss of weight from your finger. You wouldn’t believe all the diamonds that fall out of mountings while working in the yard or doing dishes in the sink.
  • Theft is more prevalent than most people expect. A diamond ring left in a suitcase while enjoying the beach or pool can suddenly disappear. A diamond ring left for just an instant in a public wash room will probably never be seen again. Uninvited “guests” in your home seek out your jewelry drawer in your bedroom dresser for a quick touch of larceny.
  • Grocery-cartDamage can occur for even the hardest of gems. While a diamond is hard, it is also a crystal that will fracture if struck a hard blow. The wrong bump with a grocery cart or a door handle can cause thousands of dollars in damage in an instant.

You can insure your jewelry through your homeowners or renter’s insurance or through a separate insurance company specializing in jewelry insurance such as Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company or Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

For a free, no-obligation quote go to where you can enter our Jeweler Code A00108 and get estimated annual premiums based on the retail replacement value of your items, the deductible for each item, and the location of the person who will wear the jewelry.

Understand what your jewelry covers.

  • Is there a deductible? Deductibles can reduce your annual premium but do reduce the amount insurance will reimburse you for a claim.
  • Is an appraisal required? Receipts for a purchase typically do not have the level of detail and description to substantiate a claim. If your insurer does not know exactly what you had before, how can they replace it with the same kind or quality? Insurance appraisal protect you and the insurer.
  • USA-StatesAre there geographic limitations? Some insure policies do not provide coverage for loss, theft or damage that occurs outside the United States. If you might travel with jewelry outside the country, look for an insurance company or policy that covers international travel.
  • Is coverage for full replacement value? You want your coverage based on replacement value since it pays the dollar amount needed to replace damaged personal property without deducting for depreciation but limited by the maximum dollar amount shown on the declarations page of the policy.
  • Can you get reimbursement versus replacement? Sometimes you might want to upgrade or change styles as the result of a claim so you do not want to be limited by only getting an identical replacement.
  • Jewelry-repairDoes the policy cover damage repair? Read the fine print because what repair coverage varies between policies. Routine maintenance (resizing, cleanings, polishing, inspections, appraisals) are typically not covered. However, good polices cover preventive repairs (prong re-tipping, broken, worn or bent prongs, broken earring posts, clasp replacement, restringing of broken or stretched pearl strands, and stone tightening) so read the fine print.

Beware of jewelry stores pitching Life Time Warranty.

  • Warranty-fine-printIf you read the guarantee, it likely does not provide value to you. Generally, their liability is only for loss or damage through their negligence.
  • You are responsible for loss, theft or damage you cause so get jewelry insurance. Do not make the mistake of thinking the jeweler is going to pay to replace or repair an item in the future, even if they are still in business.
  • The “Life Time Warranty” most likely requires you have your jewelry item checked every six months. This benefits the jeweler by getting more store traffic for them and maybe getting you to pay for unnecessary repairs.

Pay your premiums to keep your insurance coverage current. We have had more than one client go to file an insurance claim only to find out they stopped paying premiums years ago and were no longer covered.


Graff Pays $53M for 1,109-Carat Rough Diamond

Lesedi-la-Rona-(2)New York--Almost exactly two years after its discovery, Lucara Diamond Corp. has found a buyer for the “Lesedi La Rona,” the 1,109-carat rough diamond unearthed at its mine in Botswana.

The mining company announced late Monday that Graff Diamonds, the London-headquartered company headed by billionaire diamantaire Laurence Graff (no relation to the author), has paid $53 million for the tennis ball-sized stone.

That works out to $47,777 per carat and is $17 million less than what Lucara originally aimed to get for the diamond when it put it up for auction in June 2016, though Lucara President and CEO William Lamb noted that $53 million is more than the highest bid received at the auction.

In the news release issued Monday, Graff called the purchase of Lesedi La Rona a “momentous day” in his career.

“We are thrilled and honored to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond. The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the utmost care to respect its exceptional properties. This is a momentous day in my career, and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honor the magnificent natural beauty of Lesedi La Rona,” he said.

Graff Diamonds already owns a 373.72-carat chunk that broke off the Lesedi La Rona. The company paid $17.5 million for that rough diamond ($46,827 per carat) at Lucara’s exceptional stone tender held in May.
Lucara recovered the Lesedi La Rona, a Type IIa diamond that actually totaled 1,111 carats before cleaning, at its Karowe mine in Botswana in November 2015.

The citizens of Botswana participated in a naming contest after the diamond was found. Its name means “our light” in Setswana.

Lesedi La Rona is the second largest rough diamond ever found, topped only by the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond unearthed in South Africa in January 1905.

On Monday, Lamb called the discovery of the stone a “company-defining event” for Lucara and said: “We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution. Graff Diamonds is now the owner of the Lesedi La Rona as well as the 373-carat diamond … We are excited to follow these diamonds through the next stage of their journey.”


Inspect Your Jewelry | Diamond Source of Virginia

Magnifying glass with lightYour jewelry can get damaged when worn so take a close look at it after you clean it. A magnifying glass or 10x loupe will let you see issues well before they become a serious problem.

Are the earrings, necklaces, and bracelet clasps secure? These are typically the least durable part of those types of jewelry and because they have moving parts are subjected to considerable force with your fingers.

Are the stones tight?  If they wiggle under the prongs, get the prong tightened before the stones come loose.  Often you can hear a loose bigger stone rattle by shaking your hand before you even see it is loose.

Is the ring shank still round or is it bent?

  • If the ring shank has small diamonds on it, a bend can cause them to come loose. Rings are round when new but forces are applied they can get more oval shape, something not easily visible when on the finger.
  • Bent ringIf metal continually gets bent, it can weaken and break. Gold, silver and platinum are the most commonly used jewelry metals. These metals are malleable (ability to bend or be shaped), but repeated or very strong forces can result in bending and ultimately breaking.
  • If a ring has been resized, the bottom of the shank has been soldered making it more likely to break. Once the bottom of the shank breaks, the rest of the shank and any small diamonds on the shank are prone to damage.

Is the metal scratched?

  • Beware of rings worn together that can scratch each other, especially if they have diamonds close to the edges.
  • Polishing-clothMinor scratches on the metal can be polished. At home, you can use a polishing cloth to remove minor scratches and return the shine. For more visible scratches, a jeweler or repair shop can provide professional polishing. The problem with too frequent polishing is that the process removing a tiny layer off the surface of the metal.
  • White metals like 14-karat, 18-karat gold, and even platinum can be rhodium plated for a smoother, whiter, shinier, and harder surface. Rhodium is a precious metal, a member of the platinum family. Rhodium electroplating is used, especially on jewelry, to provide a surface that will resist scratches and tarnish, and give a white, reflective appearance. Rhodium plating is most often found on white gold. The plating can be done with diamonds set, lasts 2-5 years depending on wear, and the price is typically about $60 or more depending on the item and jeweler.


Store Jewelry Safely | Diamond Source of Virginia

Remember that diamonds can scratch other materials, even diamonds.

  • Jewelry storage boxDo not put diamond jewelry items together where they might scratch each other.
  • Soft stones like pearls, opals and emeralds can easily be scratched if mixed with other jewelry.
  • Keep your precious pieces in a fabric-lined jewel case, or a box with compartments or dividers. If you prefer to use ordinary boxes, wrap each piece individually in tissue paper.
  • Do not store pearls in plastic bags since this will dull their surface.

Never trust putting jewelry in your pockets. Even pockets with zippers can be susceptible to opening or have a hole in the bottom.

Don’t leave your ring on the rim of a sink when you remove it to wash your hands. It can easily slip down the drain.

Pottery-Barn-Jewelry-storageWhen not wearing jewelry, put it in a secure place, such as a home safe or safe-deposit box. Jewelry boxes and dresser drawers, as well as almost any other spot in bedrooms, are probably the first places a thief will look for your valuables.

Be careful of your hiding place if others in your house are not aware of it. Hiding jewelry in the refrigerator is not a wise idea if someone mistakenly throws out that container.


Nearly 28-Carat Pink Diamond Found in Russia

Alrosa-27.85 carat pinkMoscow--Alrosa reported this week that subsidiary Almazy Anabara has recovered what is by far the largest pink diamond in company history.

Weighing 27.85 carats, the rough diamond has dimensions of 22.47 x 15.69 x 10.9 mm, and is described by the company as being “of gem-quality and almost free of inclusions.”

Prior to this find, Alrosa said the biggest pink diamond it had ever recovered was 3.86 carats. That too was discovered by Almazy Anabara, which recovers pink and other natural color diamonds at the Severalmaz kimberlite pipes and placer deposits.

Apart from that stone, which was found in 2012, Alrosa has found only three pink diamonds weighing more than 2 carats over the last eight years.

This week’s news of the recovery of a nearly 28-carat high-quality pink follows the company’s August unveiling of the five polished diamonds it cut from a colorless 179-carat piece of rough it found in 2015 and dubbed “The Romanovs” diamond.

The largest of the stones is a 51.38-carat round brilliant, D color, VVS1 clarity diamond with triple excellent cut. Called “The Dynasty,” it is the biggest stone of this quality ever cut by the company.

Commenting on The Dynasty, Alrosa said: “This stone gives a start to a new stage in the development of Alrosa’s cutting division that will actively develop polishing of extra-large and colored diamonds. The Dynasty demonstrated that we can do it at the highest level.”

But whether the company will apply these cutting skills to the newly discovered pink diamond remains to be seen.

In a news release issued Thursday, Evgeny Agureev, the head of USO (United Selling Organization) Alrosa, said the company’s polishing division is examining the diamond in order to decide whether to cut it or sell it rough.

“Large stones, particularly colored, are always in demand at auctions. But if the company decided to cut it, it would become the most expensive diamond in the entire history of Alrosa,” he said.


Clean Your Jewelry | Diamond Source of Virginia

Learn the proper cleaning process for each jewelry item since different gemstones and metals have different characteristics.

  • Metal and stones used in costume jewelry are generally not as durable as most fine jewelry.
  • When in question about a particular type of gemstone or metal type, a quick online search for cleaning that item online will probably provide the specific guidance you need.
  • Ultrasonic cleanerA home ultrasonic cleaner can be used for diamond, ruby, sapphire, citrine, blue topaz, peridot, aquamarine, garnet, and amethyst.
  • A home ultrasonic cleaner or harsh abrasive cleaner should not be used for pearl, opal, emerald, tourmaline, Tanzanite, turquoise, amber coral or onyx.
  • Metal watch bands can be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner but be careful not to put the watch mechanism under water even if says it is water resistant.

Hand creamAvoid touching cleaned diamonds with your fingers as the oil from your skin can cloud the stones. This is especially true if you have hand cream or moisturizer on your hands. Oil and hair products can also coat diamond earrings so they should be cleaned regularly to stay bright and sparkly.

Beware that some do-it-yourself remedies like witch hazel, bleach, vinegar, and baking soda can damage your jewelry

Red, white or blue jewelry (rubies, diamonds, sapphires) with gold or platinum metals are relatively durable for cleaning.

The best homemade jewelry cleaning solution is a mixture of a few drops of Dawn dish detergent in warm water. Soap the jewelry item in the solution for a few minutes and then brush with a soft tooth brush, rinse in clean warm water, then dry with paper towel or lint-free clean cloth.

Jewelry cleaner kitYou can also buy one of the brand-name liquid jewelry cleaners online or in most department stores, which usually include a container of cleaner, a basket to soak the ring in and a small brush to clean hard to get at areas. Read the label and follow its instructions.

Frequent cleaning with a soapy solution and soft brush will ensure oils, creams, food, and other dirt does not build up and harden. Keep the container of cleane