Diamonds

Queen’s Jewels on Display for Diamond Jubilee

 

Diamonds are a Queen’s best friend. Several jewels of historic significance, encrusted in over 10,000 diamonds, are currently on display at London’s Buckingham Palace. The exhibition coincides with the Diamond Jubilee which celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year on the throne.

Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration showcases an unprecedented display of Queen Elizabeth’s personal jewels, including those inherited by six different monarchs over three centuries. With diamonds long being associated with endurance and longevity, the aim exhibition is to explore how these dazzling objects have been deployed by various rulers as symbols of beauty, power and diplomacy.

Queen Elizabeth was consulted on what pieces would be used in the collection of crowns, tiaras, rings, earrings, scepters and swords dating back many generations. “The items for the exhibition were chosen for their artistic significance and their historic importance, and for the supreme skill in diamond cutting and mounting they embody”, said curator Caroline de Guitaut. View some of the exhibition highlights below and listen to the rich history surrounding each of these magnificent pieces provided by The Royal Collection:

 

QUEEN VICTORIA’S MINIATURE CROWN

This miniature crown is perhaps the most recognizable jewel worn by Queen Victoria, the only other monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The design consists of a silver openwork frame, laminated with gold and is adorned with 1,187 brilliant, rose and mixed-cut diamonds as well as some diamond chips. Victoria was regularly depicted wearing it in paintings, sculptures, coins and photographs of her during her middle and older years. Most notably, she wore it in her official portrait in 1893 to be released marking her Diamond Jubilee on June, 1897.

 

THE CORONATION NECKLACE

Initially commissioned by Queen Victoria, this piece has undergone various changes throughout the years. It currently features 25 graduated cushion-cut brilliant diamonds ranging in sizes of up to 11.25 carats, set in silver and gold links. The 26th diamond, known as the Lahore Diamond, weighs 22.48 carats and hangs as a pendant. This marvelous necklace was also worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and Queen Elizabeth II at their coronations.

 

THE DIAMOND DIADEM

Also known as the George IV State Diadem, this piece was made in 1820 for the famed extravagant coronation of King George IV. This piece contains 1,333 brilliant cut diamonds weighing approximately 325 carats total and 169 pearls along the base. Its design features roses, thistles and shamrock motifs, respective symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland. The diadem was also worn during the coronation procession of Queen Victoria. It is perhaps Queen Elizabeth II’s most widely recognized piece, being worn at the annual opening of the Parliament as well as appearing on British and Commonwealth stamps, bank notes and coinage.

 

THE CULLINAN DIAMOND

Still holding its title as the largest rough diamond ever found, The Cullinan Diamond weighed an astonishing 3,106 carats in its rough state. In addition to its size, the diamond is celebrated for its extraordinary blue-white color and remarkable clarity. This exceptional rock was discovered at the Premier Mine in South Africa and got its name from the owner of the diamond mine. Rumor has it, the gem was initially tossed out the window as it was much too large to have thought to be a diamond. The stone was gifted to King Edward VII in 1907 as a token of loyalty. It took eight months and 14 hour brutal work days for a group of three polishers to create nine major stones, 96 smaller stones and nine carats of unpolished fragments from the stone. Two principal cuts of the diamond were used in the Crown Jewels and the rest were used to make brooches, necklaces and earrings to be worn by royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II.
For the very first time, seven of the nine principal stones cut from The Cullinan Diamond are currently on public display. The jewelry pieces they’ve been set in include:
Cullinan I – The Sovereign’s Sceptre – Crafted in gold, this piece is set with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, spinels, amethyst and enamel. It contains the Cullinan I, also known as the Star of Africa, which is the largest D color faceted diamond in the world. The pear shaped diamond weighs an astonishing 530.20 carats.

Cullinan II – The Imperial State Crown – Crafted in platinum, gold and silver, this crown is adorned with rubies, emeralds, sapphires, spinel, pearls, velvet and ermine. The cushion cut diamond, also known as the Second Star of Africa, weighs a remarkable 317.40 carats.

Cullinan III and IV Brooch – Crafted in platinum, this brooch is composed of the third and fourth largest of the diamonds, the Cullinan III, a pear-shaped stone weighing 94.4 carats and the Cullinan IV, a cushion cut diamond weighing 63.6 carats.

Cullinan V Brooch – Crafted in platinum, this brooch contains the Cullinan V, a heart shaped diamond weighing 18.8 carats. This piece features a pavé-set border of brilliant cut diamonds, fine milgrain detail and a web-like design. This brooch was created with adaptability in mind.

Cullinan VI and VIII Brooch – Crafted in platinum, the brooch contains the Cullinan VI, an 11.5 carat diamond that has been used in a number of pieces and the Cullinan VIII , an emerald cut diamond weighing 6.8 carats. The design of the brooch is similar to that of the Cullinan V and it too was created with versatility in mind.

The Dehli Durbar Necklace and Cullinan VII Pendant – Crafted in platinum and gold, this necklace contains the Cullinan VII, a detachable marquise shaped diamond weighing 8.8 carats. It also includes nine of the celebrated Cambridge emeralds. The cabochon cut emeralds are each surrounded by diamonds and sit alternating in between six large diamonds.

Cullinan IX Ring – Crafted in platinum, this ring contains the Cullinan IX, the smallest of the nine stones. The pear shaped diamond weighs 4.4 carats and is set in an openwork 12-claw setting.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA’S FRINGE BROOCH

On its first ever public display, this diamond brooch, created for Queen Victoria in 1856, contains one a large emerald cut stone surrounded by smaller brilliant cut diamonds – a detachable brooch within itself. 12 large brilliant cut stones surround the outer row and 9 suspended pavé-set chains create the fringe effect. The larger stones of this diamond brooch are said to have come from one of two jewels presented to Queen Victoria by the Sultan of Turkey. The Queen’s journal of May 8th, 1856 indicates that Victoria appears to either not have appreciated the Sultan’s taste or could not wear the piece and thus the diamonds were reset. Victoria left the brooch to King Edward VII and it was subsequently worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth who all wore it regularly. In 2002 it was passed on to Queen Elizabeth II who wore it at the State Banquet for the President of Turkey in 2011.

 

JAIPUR SWORD AND SCABBARD

This exceptionally crafted jeweled weapon was presented to King Edward VII by as a ceremonial gift by the Maharajah of Jaipur Sawai Sir Madho Singh Bahadur, marking the occasion of his coronation in 1902. The sword hilt and scabbard are crafted in gold, colored enamel and set with 719 rose-cut, brilliant cut and ‘lasque’ stones(flat, un-faceted diamonds more commonly used in Indian jewelry) which vary in colors from white to yellow. The combined weight of all the diamonds is estimated at over 2,000 carats total, with the largest of the diamonds thought to be the pale yellow diamonds, one of which is estimated at 36 carats.

 

THE WILLIAMSON DIAMOND BROOCH

Given to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift in 1947, the flawless 23.6 carat Williamson Diamond is considered to be the finest pink diamond in existence. The 54.5 carats rough diamond was discovered in the Mwadui mine in Tanganyika, owned by the Canadian geologist Dr John Thorburn Williamson. It was speculated the stone might be mounted for use at Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952. However, Elizabeth opted to set the pink diamond within this platinum brooch featuring 170 brilliant cut diamonds, 12 baguette cut diamonds and 21 marquise cut diamonds forming the shape of a jonquil flower.

 

THE SOUTH AFRICA NECKLACE AND BRACELET

For her 21st birthday on April 21st, 1947, Princess Elizabeth was gifted a magnificent necklace by South African Prime Minister, Field-Marshal Jan Smuts on behalf of the Government of the Union of South Africa. In its original form, the piece consisted of one long chain featuring 21 graduated round brilliant-cut diamonds, each diamond being linked by a baguette and two small round brilliants. The largest diamonds weigh up to 10 carats. The necklace has been altered twice, once in 1947 where the detachable snap-piece was added using a 6 carat stone, and again in 1952, where the necklace was shortened to 15 large stones and a bracelet was crafted with the six diamonds that remained.

 

The exhibition is currently open until July 8th and then resumes July 31st to October 7th.


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New York Diamond District Shopping Guide

Diamond District NYC

 

Many shoppers will attest that the New York Diamond District still remains one of the world’s top destinations for engagement rings and fine diamond jewelry at tremendous value. However, with nearly 2,600 jewelry retailers, manufacturers and dealers condensed within a one block radius, navigating through the hustle and bustle to find the best deals and the most reputable jewelers can be a challenge for some. As long time Diamond District jewelers and with Firenze Jewels’ Jeffrey Levin serving as chairman of the 47th St BID for 16 consecutive years, we’ve created this guide to offer unique insight into shopping at the world’s famed diamond center.

1.  Pre-shopping
If you haven’t done so already, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with The 4 C’s. These are the fundamentals to finding the best quality diamond within your budget. Some shops in the Diamond District also have websites where most of their jewelry inventory is displayed. Use them to your advantage. Read about a store’s policies, how long they’ve been in business and their Better Business Bureau accreditation. View the styles of jewelry and rings they carry to get a sense of what you’re looking for (halo? antique style? pavé?). A few stores also display loose diamond inventory online. If you find something that interests you, be sure to make an appointment in advance to reserve the diamond(s) for a private viewing as many times they aren’t readily available on the premises.  This will save you time.

2.   Browse and compare
Upon arrival, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed. Have a list handy of the merchants you’ve researched and thoroughly vetted. Feel free to glance at other stores that catch your fancy, but keep in mind that policies vary from shop to shop. Are all their diamonds 100% natural? What’s the jeweler’s stance on ethical diamond sourcing?  What trade organizations do they belong to? During your visit, don’t be lured by signs such as “50% off”, “Wholesale to the Public”, “Discounted Prices” ect.. As the old adage goes: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. The only way of really knowing if you got a good deal is to shop comparable items and ask questions. Always go with your gut instinct.

3.   What to avoid
Don’t do business with hawkers. It’s no secret; on occasion, the Diamond District has received negative press about salespeople who openly solicit shoppers on the sidewalk. You’ll find them as much of a nuisance as we do. It’s been an on-going conflict in the area. On the same note, avoid aggressive salespeople you may encounter. If at any point in time you feel uncomfortable, simply move on to the next shop or exchange.

4.   What to look for
Be certain the diamond you’re buying is certified by a renowned grading institution such as the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A) or European Gemological Laboratory (E.G.L.).  Familiarize yourself with what the certifications should look like. At any shop you visit, a jeweler should be able to provide you with at least a 10x magnification loupe or microscope. Upon examining the diamond, verify that inclusions (if any) correlate with what is shown on the certificate.

5.   Sealing the deal
Have a written copy of the store’s return or exchange policy. For an honest third party appraisal, be sure to find a truly independent appraiser who is not connected with any diamond sellers and does not sell diamond or jewelry. Lastly, it’s important to obtain a copy of the jeweler’s appraisal (normally provided free of charge) and insist the merchant put all jewelry claims on the sales slip.

 

We hope the information above helps in your Diamond District shopping experience and makes the whole engagement ring buying process a little less intimidating. Happy diamond hunting!

Sun-Drop Diamond to Auction at Sotheby’s

On November 15th, Sotheby’s Geneva will present the largest Fancy Vivid Yellow pear shaped diamond in the world at its Magnificent Jewels auction. Exhibited earlier this year at London’s Natural History Museum, the VVS1 marvel known as the Sun-Drop Diamond is approximately the size of a woman’s thumb. According to the GIA, “a diamond such as the 110.03 carat Sun-Drop can almost be said to exude a magical aura. Its magnificent color combined with impressive size and uncommon cut make it a paragon in the world of diamonds.”

The rough for the precious stone was discovered in South Africa in 2010 and is estimated to fetch between $11-15 million USD. “This stone has immense presence and is truly stunning. It is also one of the largest diamonds ever to have appeared at auction”, said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry department in Europe and the Middle East. View more shots of this rare beauty below.

 

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Frozen Diamond Smoke Rich in Possibilities

Researches have discovered a way to create a nanocyrstalline diamond aerogel. What’s that you may ask? Referred to as “blue smoke”, “frozen smoke” and “solid smoke”, aerogel is synthetic product first created in 1931 which is currently used today for insulation, water purification, as well as blocking electrical signals and noise. It’s a class of materials that exhibit the lowest density and thermal conductivity of any bulk solid.

Looking for ways to strengthen this creation, lead researcher Peter J. Pauzauskie and colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory married one of the least dense structures known to science with one of the hardest materials naturally found on earth – diamonds.

Using a laser-heated diamond anvil cell, the California based team mimicked pressures existing deep within planets creating materials and phases not observed under normal circumstances. The result created a substance with a density of around 40 mg per cubic centimeter (approximately 40 times denser than air).

The completely transparent product sparkles just like a diamond. Pliable like plastic, diamond aerogels could have future use in antireflection coatings applied to the surface of lenses such as telescopes, binoculars, eyeglasses or any other device that may require a reduction in reflection. This product also has potential to coat structures within the human body due to its biocompatible nature.  Because diamonds emit electrons, diamond aerogels have a future place in technology as well such as creating better flat screen televisions and ultra strong quantum information processors.

Diamonds have come quite a long way since their use in jewelry and engagement rings haven’t they?

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Mona Lisa Diamond Replica

A Chinese jewelry collector has created a replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa – made entirely of diamonds. It took the owner 30 years to collect all of the gemstones required and 5 years him and a group of top European craft masters to create this one of a kind piece. Thousands of precious stones totaling to approximately 100,000 carats were used to bring this dazzling work of art to life.

The replica currently sits on display within a shopping mall in Shenyang City, China.

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Cora Sun Drop Diamond on Display at Natural History Museum

London’s Natural History Museum is currently hosting the largest vivid-yellow pear shaped diamond in the world. Weighing in at a whopping 110.03 carats, The Cora Sun-Drop diamond is said to be so valuable, that it’s priceless – literally. Experts consider the diamond so rare that it’s price cannot be calculated, and as of yet, no one has made an attempt to do so.

This precious pear-shaped yellow diamond is approximately the size of a woman’s thumb and has a color grade of fancy vivid yellow, which is already extremely rare.  Unusual diamonds of this color stem from very small amounts of nitrogen within the carbon structure of the stone.

“When you look at a diamond like this you are not only looking at a unique piece of art, you are looking at the fascinating science that bought this stone to us,” said Alan Hart, head of mineralogy collection at The Natural History Museum.

The stone is set to be on display for the next six months.

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10.09 Carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink Diamond to Fetch $12-$15 Million at Auction

A new beauty is set to step into the global spotlight on April 12th. Christie’s recently announced it will auction a 10.09 carat cushion cut Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink diamond as the highlight of its Magnificent Jewels sale in New York. This rare and exceptional diamond is estimated at $12,000,000-15,000,000.

The past 15 months, has seen a growing investor demand for large and rare fancy color diamonds, a number of which have sold for more than $1 million per carat. In November 2010, a 24.78 carat emerald cut pink diamond sold at auction at Sotheby’s for $46 million, shattering the world record for the highest price ever bid for a jewel at auction.

“Collector demand for large colored diamonds has never been stronger, especially where pink diamonds of this size and quality are concerned. Fewer than 10 percent of all pink diamonds mined weigh more than 0.20 carats, and even fewer exhibit the exceptional color saturation and brilliance of this exceptional gem. In all my years at Christie’s, I have never seen such vivid color in a stone of this size,” said Rahul Kadakia, Head of Jewelry at Christie’s New York.

“At Christie’s New York this past December, jewelry collectors competed for a 6.89 carat Fancy Vivid purplish-pink diamond, which ultimately sold for $6.9 million or $1 million per carat. This larger stone, with its richer, deeper hue of pink and electrifying purple tone is positioned to become one of this season’s top-selling diamonds,” he added.

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Scientists: Planet May Have Mountains of Diamonds

Imagine a world where diamonds are more plentiful than sand? Nasa has discovered a massive planet so abundant in carbon, that the mountains on it could very well be made entirely of diamonds. Named WASP-12b, the planet is said to be a gas giant 1.4x the size of Jupiter.

This is the first planet ever discovered with a carbon-to-oxygen ratio greater than one. The high amounts of carbon have led astronomers to believe that its solid core is composed entirely of diamonds rather than the silicon and oxygen rich elements on earth. Diamonds are formed when carbon is compressed at extremely high temperatures.

“The high carbon-to-oxygen ratio indicates a carbide or diamond interior rather than the silicate geology of the Earth”, said Nikku Madhusudhan, a Princeton astrophysicist who led the study. Madhusudhan and his team were able to analyze the composition of the planet due to the proximity of its star. In fact, the planet resides so close, it revolves around the star in a little more than an earth day.

Already planning a space expedition to see explore this scintillating beauty and perhaps grab a gem or two? Even if you managed to travel 871 light years to visit, you would be welcomed by a temperature of 4,200 degrees Fahrenheit which would probably vaporize you instantly.

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