Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Colour Diamond Masterpiece


Graff Diamonds, the London-based jeweller, unveiled the most expensive timepiece in history Thursday at the annual Watch and Jewelry Show BaselWorld.

The Hallucination Watch, valued at $55 million, features over 110 carats of fancy colour diamonds including some rare blues, brilliant pinks, shiny yellows and staggering greens.  The watch face itself is rather small, showing off the beauty of the stones as opposed to the functionality of the timepiece.

“The Graff Hallucination is a sculptural masterpiece; a celebration of the miracle of coloured diamonds,” said Graff Diamonds founder Laurence Graff in a statement.

“For many years I have thought about creating a truly remarkable watch that illustrates our all consuming passion for diamonds.   The Hallucination has made my diamond dream a reality.”

Graff Diamonds, established in 1960, has been notable in the industry for their ownership of famous diamonds such as The Lesotho Promise, The Graff Pink and the Letseng Legacy.

The company also made headlines in the colour diamond world in March 2013 with the unveiling of the Peacock Brooch.   Measuring just 10 cm high, the piece features 120.81 carats of diamonds.   The focal point of the brooch is a 20.02 pear-shaped deep blue diamond at the centre with the diamond-encrusted plumage featuring both white and colour stones.   Priced at $100 million, the piece made its debut at the renowned exhibition The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, Netherlands.



5 Highlights of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Auction

On April 7, Sotheby’s Hong Kong will be hosting their Magnificent Jewels And Jadeite Auction.   The early estimates look like sales of all of the pieces could reach close to $100 million.   A trio of necklaces appear to be getting all the early headlines.  However, our list focuses on the colour diamonds that will be featured in the auction.

1.  A unique Fancy Brown-Yellow Diamond Ring.   The stone weighs in at 49.31 carats and is set on an 18 karat pink gold ring.   Estimates are that the diamond will sell between $1.86 and $2.29 million in Canadian dollars.



2.  A cut-cornered square Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond weighing 16.72 carats with two shield-cut white diamonds on either side that total an additional 1.10 carats. It also has a mount set with circular cut diamonds mounted with platinum and 18 karat yellow gold. It is the only other colour diamond piece in the auction whose estimated value is set for over $1 million dollars Canadian. The estimates for this ring are set between $1.4 and $1.7 million.


3.  A Fancy Vivid Yellow cushion-cut diamond weighing in at 7.16 carats.   Like #2, it is flanked on either side by two shield-cut white diamonds that come in at a total of 1.10 carats.   Also, like #2,  it is mounted on a platinum and 18 karat yellow gold ring.   The estimates for this piece could be as high as $857,000 Canadian.



4.  The most valuable pink diamond in the auction.   The centrepiece is a 6.27 carat oval, light pink type IIa diamond and is surrounded by 12 white oval diamonds that total 4.70 carats.   The diamonds are mounted on a 18 karat white and pink gold ring.   Estimated value is between $614,000 and $685,000.



5.  One of the most underrated pieces in the auction, this ring features a centrepiece that is a cut-cornered rectangular Fancy Light Purplish Pink diamond weighing 3.43 carats.   The stone is flanked on either side by shield-cut white diamonds and then all three are surrounded by smaller circular cut diamonds and is mounted on platinum and 18 karat pink gold.   The ring’s estimated value is set at between $314,000 and 371,000 and could be the steal of the auction!


(photos courtesy of Sotheby’s)

What do Pope Paul VI And Evel Knievel Have In Common?

Jewelry once owned by a Pope rarely goes up for sale, and when those same pieces were also once owned by a pop culture icon, it is almost unthinkable.   However, M.S. Rau Antiques out of New Orleans is selling a cross and a ring that were once owned by Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) and  70s motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel.

The first piece is a diamond-encrusted pectoral cross valued at $1.25 million.   The seven-inch long cross is made of 18 karat gold and features 12 diamonds ranging between three and eight carats along the vertical and horizontal line.   The cross is filled in with emeralds and smaller diamonds with 18 karat carvings of scrolls and leaves along the edges of the cross.


The ring, valued at $650,000, is centred with a 13-carat white diamond surrounded by 14 smaller diamonds totalling 3.5 carats.   The ring is set in platinum and has two diamond pave squares set on either side, each inset with a cross made of rubies.

 Pope Paul VI's Diamond Ring

The history of these pieces suggest that they were made by Vatican jewellers in the early 1900s from existing jewels in their collection.   In 1965, Pope Paul VI made a historic visit to the United Nations to address the General Assembly.   At the time, he requested that these two pieces be auction off with the proceeds going to human relief funds.

The auction of these pieces took place in 1967 and was handled by Parke-Bernet (now owned by Sotheby’s).   Chicago-based jeweller Harry Levinson won the bid for both the ring and cross both for a total of $64,000.   The timeline of ownership gets a little fuzzy after this point.   Evel Knievel is said to have owned them at some point, however, no one is sure of exactly when he purchased or sold them.

The next public sale of the cross and ring was in April 2011 on the online auction website eBay by a North Carolina jewellery store, Perry’s Emporium.   Store owner Jeff Perry said he was selling the pieces for a widow whose husband had bought them in the 70s.

There never has been any public confirmation whether the cross and ring were sold at that time or not. Their appearance this month at M.S. Rau Antiques is the first time they have been publicly available since 2011.   So if you are looking for a piece of papal (and pop culture) history, the ring and cross are selling for at a total of $1.9 million.

JCK Magazine’s Colour Diamond Winners

For seven years, JCK Magazine has had a retailer-driven design competition called the Jewelers’ Choice Awards.   With categories ranging from Best Earring Design to Best Platinum Jewelry, it highlights the best in the world of jewelry.

We decided to focus in on the rather impressive winners from the three Colour Diamond categories.

1.  Colour Diamond Jewelry Under $2,500

Under 2500

18 karat hand-hammered gold rings featuring cognac diamonds with white diamond accents along the band.   The ring is from the family-owned, Los Angeles-based business Dorian & Rose.

2.  Colour Diamond Jewelry $2,501 – $10,000

2501 10000

An 18 karat gold ring featuring a free-form web with both yellow and white diamonds by the Los Angeles-based jewel company Parade.

3.  Colour Diamond Jewelry Over $10,000

over 10k

A handcrafted 18 karat yellow and white gold ring featuring a range of natural colour diamonds equalling 54.84 carats from Leibish & Co.

To see the winners from all of the other categories, click on this link.

The Top 5 Green Diamonds

The colour green is one of the rarest on the colour diamond spectrum and is the only one whose colour is caused by radiation.   The green colour is caused when a stone that has been bombarded with beta rays, gamma rays and neutrons over millions of years.   The more present of these external factors, the deeper the colour of green is within the stone.

1.  Dresden Green Diamond


The largest green diamond ever found on the planet is the Dresden Green, a 41 carat, type IIa flawless stone.  The diamond is named after the Saxony Capital in Germany and is assumed to have been found in the Kollur Mine of Indian in the early 1700s.

The first record of the pear-shaped, 41-carat green diamond is from 1725 when a London merchant sold the diamond to Frederick Augustus I in 1726 for £30,000. 40 years later, the stone was set into a large hat ornament surrounded by 413 other diamonds.   The famous stone remains in that same setting today.

2.  Gruosi Green Diamond


The Gruosi Green is of South African origin and is a 25-carat, cushion-cut green diamond.  Fawaz Gruosi, founder of the Swiss luxury jewel company, De Grisogono, first purchased the diamond in it’s 100 carat rough form in 1998.

75 per cent of the original stone was cut from the Gruosi and the diamond now has an even-toned green colour not seen on the more famous Dresden Green diamond.  In its current setting, the Gruosi Green diamond centres a gold ring surrounded by 382 small black diamonds that weigh in at a total of seven carats.

3.  Ocean Dream Diamond


The first blue-green diamond ever recovered, the Ocean Dream diamond is a 5.51-carat shield-shaped stone.   Few details are known about its origin, it was found in Central Africa and the diamond’s current owner is the New York based-Cora Diamond Corporation.

The Ocean Dream diamond was part of the famous Splendor of Diamonds Exhibition put on by the Smithsonian in 2005.   The collection also featured the famous diamonds The Pink Star, The Heart Of Eternity and The De Beers Millenium Star.

4.   The Orlov


Considered blueish-green, The Orlov Diamond weighs in at 189.62 carats and has a shaped described as “half a chicken egg”.   Like the Dresden Green diamond, the Orlov was recovered from the Kollur Mine in India.   The date Orlov was actually found can no longer be confirmed, however, some records indicate that it was used as the eye of presiding deity in a second century Sri Ranganathaswamy Hindu Temple in India.

The diamond was stolen in the mid-17th century and ended up finding its way to Count Grigorievich Orlov of Russia.   His plan was to use this diamond to win back the affections of Catherine The Great.   Catherine did accept the stone and named it in the honour of Orlov.  The stone is now the centrepiece of the Imperial Sceptre, part of the collection of the Diamond Fund of the Moscow Kremlin.

5.  The Ocean Paradise Diamond


Considered the cousin of the Ocean Dream Diamond, the Ocean Paradise Diamond is considered only the second blue-green diamond ever recovered.

The smallest stone on our list, the oval-cut Ocean Paradise Diamond weighs in at just 1.6 carats.   The diamond was found in 2012 in the famed diamond region of Brazil called Diamantinia, Minas Gerais.

Not-So-Mellow-Yellow (Diamonds)


Yellow diamonds cause more debate in the colour diamond world than any other stone on the spectrum.   While some white diamonds with a slight yellow tinge are deemed less desirable, a vivid yellow diamond has become among the most popular of the colour stones.

Yellow diamonds are created when trace elements of nitrogen were introduced when the diamond was formed.   The most famous yellow diamond in the world is the Kimberley Octahedron, a 616 carat rough stone found in the Dutoitspan Mine of South Africa.   Found in 1964, it is the seventh-largest rough diamond ever recovered.

Australia’s Ellendale Mine

The Ellendale mine in Western Australia (pictured below) is recognized as the foremost location in the world for yellow diamonds.  Since officially opening in 2003, they have supplied half of the world’s supply of yellow diamonds.


The current owner of the mine is Kimberly Diamonds Limited, however, the beneficiary of the mine’s yellow diamonds is Tiffany & Co.   Since 2010 they have had an agreement in place with the mine that gives the retailer exclusive rights to their yellow diamonds for the life of the mine.   12 per cent of the diamonds from the mine are taken and sold by Tiffany, though the New York-based company accounts for 80% of the mine’s revenue.

Yellow diamonds are an important part of Tiffany’s history as company founder Charles Tiffany purchased one of the first significant finds of that colour stone in 1877.   The subsequently named Tiffany Yellow Diamond, a cushion-cut, 128.54 carat yellow diamond which remains the centrepiece of the illustrious jewelry company.


The Four Diamond Types – Explained


Everyone has a basic understanding of the diamond’s colour, clarity, cut & carat weight…the  four C’s of diamonds.   However, diamonds are also broken into four types – type Ia, type Ib, type IIa or type IIb.   These types relate to the amount of chemical impurities found within the stone.   Here is a brief description of the differences:

Type I Diamonds

The most common of the world’s diamonds, this is broken up by type Ia and type Ib.    Decidedly unsexy, these stones contain nitrogen impurities that tend to dull their appearance.

Type Ia Diamonds represent 98 per cent of the diamonds recovered in the world.   The nitrogens within the diamond are formed together within the structure of the atoms of stone called the carbon lattice.   This inner structure allows the stone to absorb blue light and appears to give it a yellow or brown colouring.

Type Ib Diamonds constitute less than 0.1 per cent of the diamonds in the world.   With these stones, the nitrogen impurities allow the absorption of both blue and green light.   Like the type Ia diamonds, they appear to look yellow or brown but that colouring is more intense.

Type II Diamonds

These diamonds have no nitrogen impurities.   Geologically speaking, they were simply under pressure for a longer period of time than type I diamonds.

Type IIa Diamonds represent between 1 and 2 per cent of the diamonds found on the planet.   This is the ideal type for high quality diamonds.   They are made up of pure carbon usually making them colourless diamonds.   However, if the carbon lattice is not perfect, it will allow the absorption of some light.   This absorption is what helps create diamonds that appear pink, yellow, purple, blue or brown.   Famous Type IIa diamonds include the Hope Diamond, the Cullinar diamond and the Pink Star.

Type IIb Diamonds represent less than 0.1 per cent of all diamonds and like their Type IIa cousins, they contain no nitrogen.   However, what separates these rare stones is the presence of the boron.   This element gives these types of diamonds a blue or red colour.