A world record was smashed when a rare gem was sold for 45.4 million francs ($46 million) at auction in Geneva this week. Laurence Graff won the bid for a 24.78-carat rare pink emerald cut diamond surpassing initial expectations of $27 million to $38 million dollars. “This is the highest price ever bid for a jewel at auction,” said David Bennett, the head of Sotheby’s European and the Middle Eastern jewelry departments. “Everybody was surprised it went that high,” Mart van Drunen, a jeweler from Amsterdam, commented after the sale.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has classified the diamond as “Fancy Intense Pink”. Sold by a private collector, this marks the first time the gem was put on the market in 60 years. “What makes it so immensely rare is the combination of its exceptional color and purity with the classic emerald-cut,” said chairman David Bennett. “It’s a style of cutting normally associated with white diamonds and one that is so highly sought-after when found in rare colors such as pink and blue,” he added.
Graff immediately renamed the gem the “The Graff Pink”. “It is the most fabulous diamond I’ve seen in the history of my career and I’m delighted to have bought it,” he said in a statement issued by Sotheby’s. The jewelry auction raised a record 103 million francs.
The Wittlesbach-Graff Diamond was finally unveiled at the American Museum of Natural History. In a category known as Type IIb, this type of diamond is believed to make up less than half of one percent of all diamonds found in nature, putting the Wittlesbach-Graff alongside very rare company such as the 70.21-carat Idol’s Eye and the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond. These types of stones get their distinctive blue hue from the absence of nitrogen and presence of boron. They are also semiconductors, which is another unusual trait.
This Thursday October 28th, the exquisite and rare blue 31.06 carat Wittlesbach-Graff Diamond is set to be displayed to the public at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Admired for its size, color and remarkable history, the original Fancy Deep Grayish Blue diamond with VS2 clarity included past owners such as King Philip IV of Spain who used the gemstone as part of a dowry for his teenage daughter, Margaret Teresa, in 1664. Since then, it has gone through the hands of several royal families and millionaires before being sold to a private owner in 1964. The diamond resurfaced once again in 2008 where billionaire diamond dealer, Lawrence Graff purchased the stone during a record smashing auction for approximately $23.4 million. For diamonds and gemstones, this was the highest price paid at auction for one at the time.
Experts theorized for a long time whether the diamond was cut from the same stone as the Hope Diamond. Recent examinations however, have suggested this is unlikely. The original Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond was 35.56 carats after being cut and polished. However, in January 2010, Graff decided to re-cut the gem to enhance the stone’s color and clarity, resulting in a 4.45 carat loss as well as a cloud of heavy public criticism. “That stone has a pedigree that is incomparable,” Daniela Mascetti, a senior global specialist in jewelry at Sotheby’s said to the New York Times “The Wittlesback blue, you knew how it came into existence and in a rather exciting way…It is a shame to have altered what has been preserved for so many years.”
Graff responded to criticism by comparing his restoration to what is occasionally done in the art world. “If you discovered a Leonardo da Vinci with a tear in it and covered in mud, you would want to repair it. We have similarly cleaned up the diamond and repaired damage caused over the years,” Graff told BBC News in January 2010. “I decided that to create beauty, or acts of beauty, is not a sin,” Graff said. “All we did was remove the blemishes and now it’s true perfection.”, he added.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) evaluated the diamond after being re-cut and graded the clarity as Internally Flawless or IF(improved from Very Slightly Included or VS1) and color as Fancy Deep Blue(amended from Fancy Deep Grayish Blue). The diamond is “the largest Flawless or Internally Flawless, Fancy Deep Blue, Natural Color we have graded to date.”, says a G.I.A. spokesperson. The stone will be displayed at the American Museum of Natural History Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, through January 2, 2011.
On October 20th, the world’s most expensive Barbie adorned in diamonds was sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie’s “Jewels: The New York Sale” for an astounding $302,500. While the winning bid was at the low end of the auctioneer’s estimated $300,000-$500,000, it still makes it the most expensive Barbie ever sold. The last record-shattering Barbie sold in 2006 for $17,091.
“The modified square-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond transcends this exceptional Barbie into a historical investment piece.” said Christie’s in New York auctioneer highlighting the rarity of the Australian Argyle pink diamond.
Canturi, the doll’s accessory designer, spent 6 months working on the Barbie. He told Fairfax Media that he specifically searched for one of the rarest diamonds in the world to adorn the doll’s neck. “And pink is absolutely perfect for Barbie,” Canturi said. Pink is also perfect for October, being breast cancer awareness month. Those who feel uneasy about a Barbie selling for that amount should take comfort knowing all proceeds of the sale will go towards American National Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Watch as jewelry designer Stefano Canturi and Mattel spokesperson Robert Best unveil the Barbie during Australian Fashion Week in the video below.
Victoria’s Secret unveiled 2010’s diamond encrusted Fantasy Bra to be modeled this year by none other than Adrianna Lima. Valued at $2 million, the incredible 142 carat piece features 3,000 brilliant cut white diamonds (60 carats in total), light blue sapphires, and oval-shaped topazes (82 carats in total), which are all set in 18 karat white gold. Reports speculate that it took craftsmen 1,500 hours to complete the piece.
This will be the second time the Victoria’s Secret Angel has done the Fantasy Bra honors. She first wore the Black Diamond Fantasy Miracle Bra valued at $5 million in 2008. This year however, she is set to strut the runway in the spectacular undergarment just 1 year after giving birth to daughter Valentina.
“After having a baby my body was very different. I went to see a nutritionist. Who better to help you than a doctor?” said the Brazilian bombshell regarding her post-natal fitness strategy. “He taught me how to eat right and I have to exercise.” she added. She says her 2 hour workout routine consists of boxing and jumping rope for 60 minutes everyday!
Be sure to tune into the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show where Lima is set to wear the bra November 30th on CBS.
A Star of David was discovered within a natural 8.53 carat polished diamond. Hidabroot TV, Israels’s first Jewish issues television station, aired a YouTube video that describes the intriguing design.
According to reports, the owner wishes to remain anonymous but has made it clear that the diamond is not for sale and is to be kept locked in a safe for protection. When first realizing the significance of the discovery, he gave it to Rabbi Cohen, founder of Hidabroot, in hopes the stone will be used for religious purposes.
A relative told Israel National News the story began 10 years ago when a batch of raw material had been bought from a merchant in a country from South America. When business was faltering during the start of the global financial crisis in 2008, the relative found work at a firm and was told to make diamonds from a bag of raw material that had been untouched. Even though the finished stones brought in little money, the employer of the polisher rejected advice to sell the remaining raw material and instead continue polishing the remaining two diamonds.
“I did it carefully, and I saw that in one of them there was a design of the Star of David,” said the relative. “It was not clear in the beginning, but after polishing it again and again, it was clearer than ever.”
An uncommon inclusion in the stone(technically referred to as a cloud), “follows the structure of the formation growth of the crystal” and sits precisely in the center of the diamond, says Yehudah Yeker, senior gemology expert at the G.C.A. The video below video reports the stone has been independently graded by Gem Tech and the GIA and was graded as a natural, fancy cut, grayish yellowish green diamond. The yellowish greenish color stated in the diamond grading reports comes from stone’s richness in hydrogen.
The world’s most expensive Barbie is set to be offered at Christie’s auction house in New York for an estimated $300,000 to $500,000 on October 20th. Austrailian jewelry designer Stefano Canturi designed the diamond collar necklace which features a Cubist-style 1-carat emerald cut Fancy Pink diamond surrounded by 3 carats of smaller white diamonds in his signature baguette-cut geometric pattern. “I wanted the jewelry design to pay homage to Barbie’s modern yet timeless style over the ages,” said the designer. Canturi also arranged the doll’s black strapless dress, stilettos, hair as well as other features.
All proceeds will benefit the Breast Cancer Research foundation, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The world auction record for a Barbie was set in 2006 at Christie’s London when one sold for $17,091.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History unveiled its latest addition to the National Gem Collection, the Cullinan Diamond Necklace. Just like its neighbor, the Hope Diamond, this exquisite piece has an intriguing history.
The 30-carat Edwardian style jewel, features a unique structure that allows it to be worn as both a brooch and a necklace. A large oval shaped 2.61 carat Fancy Blue diamond of exquisite color drops from the center which is part of 5.61 carats total of extremely rare blue diamonds. 251 white diamonds surround the necklace curving into loops and then ribbons, creating an elaborate Edwardian-esque bow motif.
Named after Thomas Cullinan, the famed South African explorer, the rough diamond weighed an astonishing 3,106.75 carats total before having been cut and polished. National Gem Collection Curator Jeffrey Post said “It was the largest rough diamond ever discovered”. Cullinan presented the piece to King Edward VII for his birthday which earned him his knighthood.
Honoring his own knighthood in 1910, he then had part of the diamond set into a necklace for his wife. The 9 blue diamonds represent the 9 pieces that were cut from the original stone. Four of the largest diamonds were placed into settings such as scepters, rings and crowns and are the main gemstones featured in the British Crown Jewels.
The Cullinan Blue necklace remained in the family until Sir Thomas’ great-granddaughter, Anne Robinson sold the heirloom to Stephen Silver in the early 1980’s. After three decades, Silver then sold it to an unnamed buyer who then in turn donated it to the museum.