(Image 1) Courtesy: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
(Image 2) Courtesy: Donald E. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution
(Image 3) Courtesy: Tom Munsteiner
In the 1980s, an aquamarine crystal three feet long weighing nearly 100 pounds was discovered in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Unfortunately, the crystal was dropped and broken into three pieces. The mine owner sold two of the pieces to be cut up into gems for jewelry. The largest piece (Image 3) - named the Dom Pedro after the two emperors of Brazil (Dom Pedro I and his son, Dom Pedro II, who ruled during the 19th century) - was acquired by German gem artist Bernd Munsteiner. Munsteiner decided to carve a sculpture from the massive crystal rather than cutting it into gems, even though the latter would've generated more profit. Using an art he pioneered, he crafted a fantasy cut obelisk weighing more than 10,000 carats. The sculpture was described by Smithsonian Magazine as being "shot through with radiant starbursts of astonishing intricacy and precision." The Dom Pedro aquamarine, the largest known single piece of cut gem quality aquamarine in the world, was donated to the Smithsonian by Jane Mitchell and her husband Jeffrey Bland. It is housed in its own display case just 30 feet from the Hope Diamond.
(Image 1) Courtesy: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
(Image 2) Courtesy: Donald E. Hurlbert, Smithsonian Institution
(Image 3) Courtesy: Tom Munsteiner
Why are green diamonds green? It’s not an easy question to answer due to their incredible rarity. But after examining over 50,000 naturally colored greenish diamonds, including more than 9,000 pure green diamonds in the lab in the past decade, GIA scientists have confirmed that many of them got their color from exposure to radioactive minerals and fluids in the earth’s crust. Over thousands to millions of years, radiation produced by the decay of isotopes of elements such as uranium and thorium (present in minerals or dissolved in geological fluids) changed the diamond's structure by displacing carbon atoms to create vacant atomic positions. These vacancies caused the diamond to absorb the red part of the light, while nitrogen-related defects often found in natural diamonds absorb the blue part of light; this combination allows primarily green light to be seen. This particular beauty is the 5.03 carat Aurora Green diamond. Graded Fancy Vivid Green by GIA, it is one of the most famous green diamonds in the world and is currently owned by Chow Tai Fook. Courtesy of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group
Roses are red, violets are blue...But even better is this pink and blue diamond flower-motif ring by Moussaieff! In the center is a 3.24 carat Internally Flawless, Fancy Vivid blue square emerald-cut diamond surrounded by seven oval diamonds that range from Fancy Vivid pink, Fancy Vivid purplish pink, Fancy Intense pink to Fancy Deep pink. Learn more about how GIA grades fancy color diamonds Courtesy: Christie's
A DIAMOND, THE GIFT OF PROMISE
By Diane Vitanza, owner of Vins Jewelry
We always hear about the value of a diamond as related to the 4 C’s, carat, cut, color and clarity. We always hear about the monetary value. Today I’d like to talk about what, in my opinion, is an even more important value. That is the emotional value. The value of a promise.
We see images almost daily of someone on one knee before their loved one about to propose marriage, usually with a tiny box containing a diamond engagement ring being offered up. The recipient often shedding tears of elation, the excitement impossible to suppress. Or there’s the very common scene in a restaurant of the soon to be betrothed suddenly spotting a bright twinkle atop their decadent dessert and screeching with surprise, while onlooking patrons await the answer. The affirmative response commands applause by all. It’s not only the emotions of the couple experiencing the exchange, it also tugs at the heartstrings of most witnessing this promise of a lifetime, even when it’s on the jumbotron at a sporting event.
I would like to inject a personal note at this point, so please forgive me, or just skip over this paragraph. My son met his beautiful wife at a baseball game. When he was ready to pop the question, he proposed at the exact spot where they met at the stadium. Romantic right? He wrote his proposal on a baseball and gave it to her to read. Romantic right? Here’s the best part. They were in the stadium standing next to a dumpster! Romantic right? No diamond at that point, just a baseball. But in my humble opinion, it was way more romantic than anything he could have done. Diamonds vs baseballs? I mean, really? Two major baseball fans. A proposal written on a baseball and presented at the very spot they met? What could be more romantic? Don’t worry, she got a diamond later. Perhaps I should try to start a new tradition. A baseball instead of a diamond. Relax ladies, I wouldn’t dream of it! After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend!
Diamonds were first used as engagement rings during the Renaissance period. It represented the ultimate gift of love, and still does. Although the tradition of diamond engagement rings soared to popularity in the late 1940’s when the De Beers advertising campaign used the slogan “A diamond is forever”, a catchphrase that remains well used today.
When it comes to a diamond, while the quality and the monetary value is important, it’s not nearly as significant as the value of the promise of love and devotion that it represents. It’s no small wonder that the giving of a diamond evokes such strong emotions.
The earliest diamonds were discovered around the 4th century BC in India, although the diamond deposits were formed 900 million years ago. The diamond is rated 10 on the Mohs scale and is the hardest mineral on earth. Perhaps that’s one reason why it’s a symbol of an unbreakable bond of everlasting love. It’s the birthstone of April and denotes the 60th wedding anniversary.
A diamond is not only one of the most precious gems in the world, it also represents a precious union, a precious promise of a future life together of two souls becoming one. Often a diamond will become a family heirloom that is passed down for generations to treasure and appreciate. While diamonds are found in all forms of jewelry, probably the most cherished is the engagement ring, the ultimate representation of the deepest love.
The tradition of wearing a diamond engagement ring on the fourth finger of the left-hand dates to the ancient Romans who believed that this ring finger had a vein that ran directly to the heart. The Latin word Vena Amoris translates to mean “vein of love”.
Ancient Romans believed diamonds were from the outer rings of the stars that had fallen to the earth. As the saying goes, a diamond is forever. The stars in the sky are forever.
As always, until next time…Make a wish upon a star. Stars are the diamonds in the sky.
The Jewelry Express
This week I’d like to talk about cleaning your jewelry. The very first rule in my playbook is to never use commercial jewelry cleaner. I’m not talking about taking it to your favorite shop and having it cleaned. Most professional jewelers know how to clean jewelry properly. I’m talking about the commercial jewelry cleaner you purchase online or in a department store, etc.
The fact is you can do a much better job yourself at home. All you really need is mild liquid soap, warm water and a very soft bristle toothbrush. A baby’s toothbrush is perfect. Another great method for cleaning your jewelry instead of using soap, use toothpaste. Toothpaste is my preferred method. A little toothpaste on a soft baby’s toothbrush and some warm water, gently scrub all over, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth. Your jewelry will shine like brand new!
Before you do any cleaning, it’s a good idea to check the piece you’ll be cleaning to make sure any and all stones are secure. If you find any loose stones, then you should probably not try to clean it. Instead, take it to your favorite jeweler and have the stones tightened. Sometimes that may require re-tipping of prongs or replacing prongs or bezels. That all depends. A good jeweler will be able to determine that upon examining your piece.
*A little tip: when cleaning your jewelry at home, use a plastic container with warm water and when you rinse it if you don’t have a separate container with clean water, if you must do it over a sink, be sure to have a screen in the drain hole. This is just in case a stone does fall out it won’t end up down the drain!
I do not recommend using a commercial ultrasonic machine either. There are many stones that should never be put in an ultrasonic cleaning machine such as turquoise, coral, pearls and many others. So, I just advise avoiding them for anything.
Pearls require special treatment. Pearls should never be put in any jewelry cleaner, even if it says it’s safe for use on pearls. Nor should they be placed in an ultrasonic machine or steam cleaned. After wearing your pearls, they should simply be wiped off with a clean soft cotton cloth. If you need to remove oils or dirt, then simply use a very mild soap and warm water and dry immediately. Your pearls should also not be kept in a dark, dry place for extended periods of time. Pearls are an organic gem and should be exposed to natural light and the moisture in the air. If they are left in a dark dry environment for a long time, they can discolor and loose their luster and turn brittle. If you do not wear your pearls on a regular basis and you store them in a jewelry box or similar way, take them out occasionally (at least once or twice a month) and place them in a spot wear they will get the exposure to natural light and air. Do this and your pearls will remain beautiful forever. If your pearls are set in gold or silver mountings such as a ring or pendant, I recommend cleaning the metal with a soft polishing cloth that is designed for cleaning silver or gold. When you’re buffing the metal, try not to use it on the pearl(s).
Until next time…Make a wish upon a star. Stars are the diamonds in the sky.
The mysterious 6.16 Fancy Dark gray-blue Farnese Blue diamond, graded by GIA, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s May 15 in Geneva. Mined at Golcanda, the legendary source of the Hope Diamond, this jewel was given to Elisabeth Farnese upon her marriage to Phillippe V of Spain in 1714. Unlike other royal jewels, this diamond was kept in a small wooden box away from the public eye for more than two centuries until this sale. The French script on the silver plaque on the box reads: “Remarkable blue brilliant. This historical stone was offered by the Philippine Islands to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, wife of Philippe V, great-grandfather of the Comte of Villafranca, current owner of that stone.” Photo courtesy of Sotheby's.The record-breaking array of major fancy colored diamonds and large colorless diamonds are less evident this spring auction season, as buyers around the world turn more cautious.
While some impressive diamonds and colored gemstones are still being offered in the top venues – Hong Kong, New York and Geneva – the emphasis is on classic pieces from jewelry houses, such as Cartier, Boucheron, JAR and Van Cleef & Arpels, and smaller fancy colored diamonds.
The first major sale of the season, Sotheby’s April 3 Hong Kong auction, saw most of the top lots fail to sell. The highlight of the auction was the Circle of Heaven, a jade bangle estimated to sell for between $10.2 million and $12.8 million, failed to find a buyer. Prices for top jade have softened, but the wide publicity Sotheby’s provided for this piece indicated that the house jewelry department was confident it would achieve that price.
Also not sold: a 17.63 ct D Flawless diamond, estimated at $2.8 million, and a 14.18 ct Fancy blue diamond.
The 5.01 ct Fancy Vivid purplish pink diamond offered at the auction sold for $2.5 million, which was well below what similar diamonds have sold for in previous sales.
Christie’s April 17 New York auction featured a GIA-graded 8.42 ct Fancy Intense pink estimated at $4 to $6 million, which sold for $ 5 million, but the majority of top lots were signed period and modern pieces from the major jewelry houses. Another top lot was a ring by Paris designer JAR featuring a GIA-graded 22.79 ct D Flawless l “elongated oval” cut diamond estimated at $2.5 to $3.5 million, which went for $2.8 million. In addition, there were about 20% fewer lots in this sale than in previous spring New York auctions..
This 51.71 ct D Flawless Type IIa round diamond is expected to bring between $7 to $9 million at Sotheby’s May 15 auction in Geneva. The diamond is one of two 50-carat-plus diamonds of that grade offered at the sale. Both were graded by GIA. Photo courtesy of Sotheby'sSotheby’s is betting that buyers will pay $7 to $9 million each for a pair of 50 ct-plus D Flawless Type IIa diamonds highlighting its May 15 Geneva sale. One diamond is a 51.71 ct round brilliant while the other is a 50.39 ct oval shape, according to GIA grading reports.
The house is also offering the historic GIA-graded 6.16 ct Fancy dark gray-blue diamond, known as the Farnese Blue. The royal diamond, originally from India’s famed Golcanda region that produced the Hope Diamond, has a history almost as fascinating. The diamond was a gift to Queen Elisabeth Farnese of Spain by her husband King Philippe V in 1714. It was passed to the queen’s son, Philippe, Duke of Parma, and then through various Italian noble families and ultimately to the Habsburg family in Austria – all the while keeping its existence secret from anyone outside the immediate families. The diamond is expected to sell for $3.7 to $5.3 million.
DIAMONDSDe Beers announced that its April rough diamond cycle totaled $520 million in sales, which is about 12% lower from the same period last year and 8% down from the previous cycle.
The company did not announce a price increase, though some press reports indicated that prices were slightly higher in some categories. De Beers often adjusts prices slightly in the mix of goods offered to clients.
De Beers’ CEO Bruce Cleaver noted that the rough market is healthy and “focusing on restocking, following healthy consumer demand for diamond jewelry in the U.S. and China.”
Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s largest diamond producer by volume, reported that its March sales total was $559.5 million, which also includes polished diamonds from special tender auctions. The total was $18.4 million higher than February because of increased sales of large diamonds, according to Alrosa deputy CEO Yury Okoemov.
Russia’s first quarter diamond sales totaled $1.61 billion, $1.58 of which were rough diamonds, Okoemov noted.
Amber - Thought to aid memory loss, purify the body, alleviate headaches, and address bone and heart problems, Amber is known for its stress relieving and calming properties.
Amethyst - Aids in the reduction of insomnia, arthritis, pain relief, and circulatory issues. Amethyst is considered the gemstone of meditation, peace, balance, courage, and inner strength.
Aquamarine - Aids the liver, throat, stomach, jaw, teeth, eyes, and ears. Aquamarine is also known for releasing fear, calming nerves, and bringing mental clarity.
Citrine - Considered the gemstone to provide greater or increased hearing, Citrine also promotes success, abundance, and clear thinking.
Garnet - Aids blood, heart, and lungs and is known to promote romantic love, passion, sensuality, and intimacy.
Lapis - Thought to aid in the alleviation of insomnia and depression, Lapis is also known for creating openness, truthfulness, and creativity.
Onyx - Associated with the root chakra, Onyx brings spiritual inspiration, and control over emotions.
Pearl - Known for its calming properties, the Pearl is said to aid purity, charity, integrity, truth, and loyalty in its wearer.
Peridot - Healing stress in relationships, lessening anger and jealousy, and slowing aging, the Peridot promotes abundance and prosperity.
Ruby - Aiding the emotions is the Ruby's calling card. Also known to increase integrity, devotion, and happiness.
Sapphire - The gemstone of creative expression and inner peace and meditation, the Sapphire also aids in personal expression and the alleviation of pain.
Topaz - One of the most powerful gemstones, Topaz facilitates the balance of emotions and provides protection from greed.
Turquoise - A gemstone steeped in lore and tradition, Turquoise is a healing and balancing stone.
A rare pink diamond known for its oval shape and vividly pink hue became the most expensive gemstone ever sold at an auction on Tuesday, fetching a record sale price of $71.2 million in Hong Kong.
The 59.6-carat “Pink Star” was sold to the highest bidder at the Sotheby's auction at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. It surpassed the current world record holder,“Oppenheimer Blue,” a 14.6-carat diamond sold for $57.5 million at a Sotheby's auction in May in Geneva.
The sale also eclipsed the current record holder for a pink diamond sold at auction. “Graff Pink,” weighing nearly 25 carats, was sold at Sotheby's in Geneva in 2010 for $46.2 million.
“Pink Star's buyer is Hong Kong-based jewelry empire Chow Tai Fook, which outbid two other telephone buyers. Founded in 1929, the family-owned conglomerate owns a chain of jewelry shops in China and is one of the world's largest jewelers. Last month, it acquired Alinta Energy Holdings, an Australia-based energy company, for $3.1 billion, Bloomberg reported. Chow Tai Fook also made Forbes's list of Asia's Fab 50 companies in 2014.
ompanied by a monograph from Gübelin, duplicate no. 16 of the original report numbered 0701199, dated 22 November 2007, stating that the diamond is Fancy Vivid Pink Colour, IF, Type IIa, together with history and chemical analysis of the stone. _________________________________________________________ One of the World’s Great Natural Treasures Meticulously cut by Steinmetz Diamonds over a period of nearly two years - a process in which the 132.50 carat rough was cast in epoxy more than 50 times in order to create models upon which the design team could experiment with different cuts -it was transformed into this spectacular 59.60 carat, fancy vivid pink, internally flawless oval cut gem – the largest internally flawless or flawless, fancy vivid pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded. The diamond was first unveiled to the public in May 2003 as the ‘Steinmetz Pink’, and was modelled by Helena Christensen at a dedicated event thrown to coincide with the Monaco Grand Prix. Writing in the Financial Times on the 31 May 2003, Mike Duff described the diamond as “the rarest, finest, most precious stone the world has ever seen”. The stone was first sold in 2007 and was subsequently renamed “The Pink Star”. In the same article, Tom Moses, Executive Vice President and Chief Laboratory and Research Officer of the GIA, is quoted as saying: “it’s our experience that large polished pink diamonds – over ten carats – very rarely occur with an intense colour… The GIA Laboratory has been issuing grading reports for 50 years and this is the largest pink diamond with this depth of colour [vivid pink] that we have ever characterised”. Of all fancy coloured pink diamonds, those graded ‘Fancy Vivid’ are the most precious and desirable. The current world auction record for a pink diamond is the Graff Pink, a superb 24.78 carat diamond which sold at Sotheby's Geneva in November 2010 for US$46.16 million. Weighing in at 59.60 carats and graded as Fancy Vivid, the Pink Star is twice the size. In the summer of 2003, this amazing gem was exhibited at 'The Splendor of Diamonds' exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Displayed in the Winston Gallery alongside the 45.52 carat blue Hope Diamond, the exhibition featured seven of the world’s rarest and most extraordinary diamonds. Also on view for the first time in the United States was the 203.04 carat De Beers Millennium Star, one of the largest diamonds in the world; the Heart of Eternity blue diamond; the Moussaieff Red, the largest known red diamond in the world; the Harry Winston Pumpkin Diamond; the Allnatt, one of the world’s largest yellow diamonds at 101.29 carats; and the Ocean Dream, the world’s largest naturally occurring blue-green diamond. Commenting at the opening of the exhibition, Dr. Jeffrey Post, curator of the Gems and Minerals Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History said, “Each of the diamonds is the finest of its kind and together with the museum’s gem collection makes for an exhibit of truly historic proportions”. In the three months the exhibition ran, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History attracted more than 1.6 million visitors. From July through November 2005, The Pink Star again took centre stage, this time at the 'Diamonds' exhibition held at the Natural History Museum, in London. “This exhibition will bring together many of the most impressive single stones in the world, fascinating science, and insights into the diamond industry to tell the story of diamonds from deep in the Earth to the red carpet,” said Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum. For five months, the dazzling exhibition attracted approximately 70,000 visitors a day
The term “carat” is the standard unit of weight for diamonds and other gemstones. The name originates from the carob seed, which was the original unit of measure for diamond traders. In 1913 the United States implemented the modern metric carat, which is equal to 0.2 grams, and other countries soon followed. Today, a carat means the same thing everywhere in the world.
A carat can be further divided into 100 points, allowing for very precise measurements. This is critical for jewelers as even a very small weight difference can have an impact on the overall diamond value and pricing structure.
Diamond Carat Size ComparisonJust as two people, one who is tall and thin and the other who is short and stout, might weigh the same on the bathroom scale, two diamonds that appear to be different sizes might actually have the same carat weight. That’s because variations in shape and cut make diamonds of similar weights look different. Since carat weight is distributed over the entire diamond, other measurements are needed to describe the overall size:
Crown Area – this is the total surface area of the top of the diamond (measured in mm2). It shows the size of the diamond as it appears face up, similar to how we view a diamond when set in a ring.
Cut Proportions – if two diamonds are the same carat weight and shape, but one carries a larger percentage of its weight in its depth, then the table percentage (flat section at the top of the diamond) and overall crown area will be smaller, giving the impression that the diamond is smaller from the top. The photo (right) shows two 1 ct. round diamonds, but the diamond on the left is cut deeper and therefore has a smaller table percentage across the top.
Shape – diamond shapes such as oval or marquise have elongated lengths, resulting in the appearance of a larger size per carat weight. Sometimes this size difference can be real, however, it can also be just an illusion based on perception.
It is important to explain to your customers how these different factors affect the perception of diamond size. A diamond with a higher carat weight is likely to be more expensive, but may not look that much larger than a smaller carat weight diamond once set in jewelry. Help your customer find a diamond that gives the largest perception of size for the jewelry setting they like, while staying within their budget.
by Shoshi Grossman
Mary has a love for diamonds and is a GIA Graduate