Monthly Archives: February 2014

The “Pink Star” Diamond Buyer Defaults On Record Purchase

pink star

The world’s most famous pink diamond is, once again, searching for an owner after news came out Friday that the original auction bidder is not going to be able to complete the purchase.

The Pink Star, a 59.6 carat flawless oval cut pink diamond, is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America.   It was originally mined by De Beers in 1999 in South Africa and weighed 132.5 carats in the rough.

Famed auction house Sotheby’s put the diamond on the block last November as part of their Magnificent Jewels auction.  There was a brisk five-minute bidding war for the stone and was eventually won by New York City diamond cutter Isaac Wolf.   The price for the stone ended up being $83.02 million, the highest auction selling price for a diamond ever.

In a conference call on Thursday, February 27, Sotheby’s said that they had to take the diamond back into their own inventory as the buyer had defaulted on the purchase.   The stone is currently listed with a value of $72 million.

“We are currently in discussions with the buyer, while also considering other alternatives,” Patrick McClymont, Sotheby’s CFO said on the call. “In the meantime, we are quite comfortable with our valuation, and see real value in owning the diamond at this price.”

Considering the Pink Star was originally estimated to sell at auction for around $61 million just five months ago, it looks like the colour diamond industry is still booming.

(Updated on March 14, 2014 with link to Rob Bates of JCK Magazine’s article on why the sale was cancelled )


Stolen Argyle Pink Diamond Still Not Found


rare 0.31 carat Argyle pink diamond was stolen from a Northern Australian jeweller last week and, even with the thief in custody, the stone has yet to be found.

The robbery took place at Diamond Gallery in Cairns, Northern Australia on Saturday, February 15 as the store’s 71-year old owner was showing his prized possession to a customer when the man grabbed the container holding the jewel and took off on a bicycle.

A suspect, Matthew Osborne, has since been arrested for the crime.   He was nabbed over 3000 kilometres away trying to board a plane out of a Melbourne heading to New Zealand.

It was first assumed that since the stone was only 4.3 millimetres in diameter that Osborne must have swallowed it.   However, x-rays provided no evidence of it.   Local police are now looking into whether he may have smuggled it out of the country prior to his arrest.

The stolen pink diamond was from Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Western Australia and is valued at over $200,000.   As the value of colour diamonds continues to skyrocket, Just nine months earlier, the store had taken out an extra insurance policy specific to that stone.

The reason for the skyrocketing value for pink diamonds is that they are extremely rare and the world’s supply of them may be gone within the next 5 years.  Close to 95 per cent of pink diamonds in history have been found in the Argyle mine but that location is set to cease operations by 2019.

Pink diamonds are so rare that scientists are not even certain how they have been created.   It is thought that the stones are formed when there is an abnormal amount of molecular compression during the diamond’s formation.   But with the world’s supply of the precious stones nearing its end, we may never know the true cause of its brilliant colour.

Chameleon Diamonds (Yes, they are a real thing)

Fancy dark grey-yellowish green chameleon kite

(photo courtesy of Roy W. Macdonald FGA DGA)

The rarity of colour diamonds has become a popular topic on blogs like these and others.   Only 1 in 10,000 carats of diamonds found can be considered colour diamonds which is why their value continues to go up year over year.   The one class of colour diamonds that are among the most rare are called chameleon diamonds.

Put simply, a chameleon diamond is a diamond that changes colour temporarily when they are either heated to at least 150 degrees celsius (a process called thermochromism) or left in the dark for a couple of days (a process called photochromism).

In its original form, a chameleon diamond usually ranges in colour between a grey, yellow-green or olive colour.   In its changed form, most chameleon diamonds tend to look somewhere between the shades of brown and yellow.   The larger the stone, the more distinct the changed colour looks.

The changed colour of a chameleon diamond after being heated does not last long but appears to have a more intense hue.   The colour of the diamond after being left in the dark for a couple of days is less intense but lasts for a longer period of time.

From a scientific standpoint, it is an excess of hydrogen and a bit of nitrogen inside the stone that gives the chameleon diamond the ability to change colours.

The chameleon diamond comes in two types, classic chameleon and reverse chameleon.   The two differences with the reverse chameleon is that it doesn’t change colour when heated and that the diamond is darker in its normal state and lighter when left in a dark environment.

The largest chameleon diamond ever found weighed in at 31.31 carats and is unofficially referred to as The Chopard Chameleon Diamond.   The strawberry-sized stone is normally olive green in colour but evolves into a rich bronze when it changes.   It was purchased in 2007 by the Swiss jewelry company Chopard.   No word on its current value but considering how the value of colour diamonds continues to rise, the cost for this rarity would easily be in the six figure range per carat.

A Happy Valentine’s Day For Cora International

blue diamond - Cullinan

Cora International, a New York-based diamond company, celebrated Valentine’s Day with the purchase of a diamond.    At $25.6 million, the diamond wasn’t your average Valentine’s Day trinket.   Considering the diamond was blue and weighed in at 29.6 carats in the rough….there was nothing average about the purchase.

Cora, through the South African company Golden Yellow Diamonds, purchased the diamond at Petra Diamonds’ tender last week.

Petra Diamonds originally recovered the rare blue stone in January from their Cullinan Mine in Pretoria, South Africa.  At the time of the find, Petra’s Chief Executive Johan Dippenaar referred to the blue diamond as “the most significant stone we’ve ever, in terms of blue stones, recovered.”

Petra last recovered a sizeable blue diamond from the Cullinan mine in April 2013.   The 25.5 carat stone sold at auction a month later for $16.9 million.   Based on that sale, industry analysts said that the most recent stone should sell for between $15 and $20 million.    The fact that the newer stone sold for over $200,000 more per carat in less than a year says a lot about the increasing rarity and value for colour diamonds.

Cora International also made headlines in the colour diamond world in November 2011 when they bought the Sun-Drop Diamond at auction for 10.9 million.   The pear-shaped yellow stone weighed in at 110.3 carats and the final auction price still stands as a record for that colour of diamond.

Top 10 Most Famous Heart Shaped Diamonds

1.   The Heart Of Eternity Diamond


Weighing in at 27.64 carats, this Fancy Vivid Blue diamond was recovered from the Premier Diamond Mine in South Africa.   The stone was first unveiled as part of the De Beers Millennium Jewels collection at at the Millennium Dome in London in 2000.

2.   The Blue Heart Diamond


Slightly bigger than the Heart of Eternity stone, this 30.82 carat diamond was found around 1909-1910.  The original owner was Cartier, however, it has been sold five times since and is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

3.  The Gruosi Diamond


The largest black diamond in this shape, the Gruosi Diamond weighed in at 300.12 carats in the rough.   However, cutting the stone proved to be very fragile when being cut and in its current form weighs only 115.34 carats.   The stone is now the centrepiece of of a necklace featuring an additional 58.77 carats of smaller black diamonds, 378 white diamonds and 14.10 carats of tsavorite garnets, set in white gold.

4.   The Taj Mahal Diamond


The Taj Mahal Diamond was found in the 17th century and was inscribed in the Persian language using Arabic characters.   Translated, it says “Nur Jahan, Begum Padshah; 23; 1037″ – Nur Jahan, Lady of the Padshah; 23; 1037”.   This references Empress Nur Jahan, wife of Emperor Jahangir Shah as well as the Islamic calendar year 1037 which is actually 1628 according to our calendar.

The stone, set in a jade necklace and pendant, was made famous as a gift from Richard Burton to his wife Elizabeth Taylor on her 40th birthday.   It sold at auction after her death for $8.8 million.

5.   The Centenary Diamond


At 273.85 carats, it is the largest diamond on our list.  Recovered in 1986, it originally weighed 599 carats in the rough.   It took 5 years to get it to its current modified diamond cut shape.   It has never been sold at auction so no one is sure of its exact value.   However, it was ensured for over $100 million when it was unveiled in 1991.   To further add to its mystery, despite once being owned by De Beers, a current owner has yet to be confirmed.

6.  The Cullinan Diamond V


One of the nine diamonds cut from the original Cullinan Diamond, the largest gem quality diamond ever found.   Weighing in at 18.8 carats, it was given to Queen Mary by by the Government and People of South Africa in 1910.   Since then it has been most commonly used as part of a brooch with a platinum web with a scrolling millegrain and pavé-set border of brilliant diamonds.

After Queen Mary’s death in 1953, the brooch was passed on to her granddaughter, the current British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

7.  The Royal Purple Heart Diamond


At only 7.34 carats, the Royal Purple Heart Diamond is still the largest Fancy Vivid Purple diamond ever recovered.   It is believed to have been found in Russia but further details, including its current owner have never been confirmed.

8.  Christie’s 56-Carat Heart-Shaped Diamond


Part of Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction in May 2011, this 56-carat diamond was estimated to sell between $8 and $10 million but actually sold for $12 million.   It still holds the record for the most ever spent at auction for a heart shaped diamond.

9.  The Heart Of The Ocean Diamond


Yes, this is a fictional diamond from the 1997 film Titanic, but that doesn’t stop it from making our list.   In the film, the diamond was originally owned by Louie XVI and was cut into a heart shape just after the French Revolution.

The film itself went on to win the Best Picture Academy Award as well as 10 other Academy Awards.   It was the highest grossing film of all time until it was surpassed by the film Avatar 12 years later.

10.   The Argyle Amour Diamond


This very rare 2.61 carat pink diamond is the most valuable of this shape ever to come out of the Argyle Diamond mine in Australia.

Significant Diamond Finds For Gem Diamonds


British-based global mining company Gem Diamonds has announced the recovery of two significant diamonds from their Letšeng mine in Lesotho.

The first, pictured above, is a 162.06 carat type II white diamond.   They also found a 161.74 carat type I white diamond from the same mine.   Both stones were found at the end of January 2014 and are expected to be part of Letšeng’s February tender.


Gem Diamonds, owner of 70 per cent of the Letšeng mine, was founded in 2005 by Clifford Elphick.  The other 30 per cent is owned by the Lesotho government.  Along with Gem Diamonds’ interests in Letšeng, they have also been developing the Ghaghoo Mine, located around 45 km within the eastern border of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in the Republic of Botswana.

In October of last year, Gem Diamonds sold an 82-carat white diamond for $4.8 million or $59,173.   More significantly, they also sold a rare 12.47-carat, blue diamond.   That stone set a record for a Letšeng diamond garnering a $7.5 million price tag or $603,047 per carat.

Gem Diamonds first made headlines with the Letšeng mine in 2006 with the recovery of a 603 carat white diamond.   The stone (pictured below), known as the Lesotho Promise, is the largest diamond ever found in the 21st century and is the 15th largest diamond ever found in history.


The Lesotho Promise, now owned by Graff Diamonds, was under scrutiny and analysis for months as they decided exactly how the rough diamond was going to be cut.   It was finally commissioned to be cut into 26 separate stones.   These stones have now been strung together and now form the Lesotho Promise Necklace.


The Case Of The Florentine Diamond


The Florentine Diamond, one of the most legendary yellow diamonds in history and one of the most mysterious.  The stone has been around since the 1400s but there has been no official sighting of it since the end of World War I.

The diamond was thought to have been light yellow with a greenish tone, had nine sides with a double-rose cut and weighing in at 137.27 carats.

The most popular theory of the diamond’s origin is that it was cut for Charles the Bold, Duke of Normandy in the 1400s.   He was wearing it in battle (probably during the Battle of Morat) when he fell.   Either a peasant or foot soldier found it and sold it for a gold coin known as a Florin.

The diamond was then sold numerous times over the next 200 years finally coming into the possession of the Medici Family, one of the most powerful European families of the time.

Famed gem hunter and traveller Jean-Baptiste Tavernier saw the diamond in 1657 as part of the possessions of  Ferdinando II de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany.   When the last of the Medici family died in the 1730s, the Florentine Diamond passed on to the Habsburg Monarchy who had the stone placed in the Habsburg Crown Jewels in Vienna, Austria where it stayed for over 150 years.

After the fall of Austria in World War I, Charles I, the last of the Habsburg-Lorraine monarch took the diamond with him in exile to Switzerland.  The diamond was then apparently stolen sometime after 1918 and taken to South America where it may have been recut and sold.

Unfortunately, this is where the story of the Florentine Diamond ends.   No one can confirm officially how it has been recut or who has ownership of the stone.   Suffice to say, this rare nine-sided diamond looks like it has been lost to history.