Diamonds Industry News – September 2014


Petra’s large blue rough diamond 

One of this year’s most amazing diamond finds is a 122.52-carat blue diamond that was unearthed in South Africa at the Cullinan Mine owned by Petra Diamonds Ltd. The spectacular gem was found in June and is one of a number of large rough diamonds that have been unearthed this year.

Starting on Monday, August 20 (?), Petra has the gem on display for a viewing process that will run until September 12. The deadline set for prospective buyers to submit their bids for the blue diamond is at 11 a.m. CAT (Central Africa Time) on September 12. Although Petra has not publicly released the details of the diamond’s quality and selling price, analysts have forecasted the blue diamond to command a price of more than US$ 35 million. This would mean setting a new record price for a rough diamond.

The largest rough diamond unearthed in history was the 3,106-carat stone named the Cullinan Diamond as it came from the Cullinan Mine — the same mine that yielded the most recent 122.52-carat blue diamond.

Petra Diamonds Ltd. is a London-based, publicly-traded diamond mining company which is listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company owns the Cullinan mine as well as 5 other mines in South Africa — the Finsch, the Koffiefontein, the Kimberley Underground and the Helam. Additionally, Petra also maintains the operation of the Williamson Mine in Tanzania and the exploration program in Botswana.

The 8.41-carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink Diamond

The craze for colored diamonds continues as Sotheby’s offered another spectacular stone — an 8.41-carat Internally Flawless, Fancy Vivid, Purple-Pink diamond. It is an extremely rare occurrence for a pink diamond to come in this size and color so much so that it is expected to break auction records this autumn in Hong Kong at Sotheby’s.

The 8.41-carat pink diamond is estimated to sell for $12.8 to $15.4 million on October — a sale that will add to this year’s trend of record-breaking sales of natural colored diamonds. The rare Pink Diamond is simply one piece of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Autumn Sale which is set to take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Sotheby’s said the pink diamond was cut from a 19.54-carat rough diamond that was unearthed by De Beers — the leading diamond corporation in the world. The final cutting of the rare stone took place in New York City. The Gemological Institute of America has graded it “Fancy Vivid” which is the highest color grading for colored diamonds.

A stone given a Fancy Vivid color grading means that it has the most saturated and vibrant color. Furthermore, the stone is declared to have Internally Flawless (IF) clarity grade — a feature said to be heretofore not yet seen among significantly-sized Fancy Vivid or Fancy Intense pink diamonds that have been offered at auctions thus far.

By virtue of its extreme rarity, high color saturation and high clarity, Sotheby’s has declared the pink stone as one of the “most desirable” colored diamonds ever offered at an auction. In fact, it has set a pre-sale estimate of $1.8 million per carat — the highest pre-sale per-carat estimate of any pink diamond to date.

Currently holding the record per-carat price for a Fancy Pink Diamond is a 24.78 carat diamond dubbed as the “Graff Pink” which was purchased by  Laurence Graff for $46.2 million — or $1.9 million per carat. Considering that the 8.42-carat Pink Diamond currently up for bids has a higher color grading than the Graff Pink (intense), gem analysts say we might just be seeing a new world record soon.

Quek Chion Yeow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman for the jewellery department in Asia, affirms the forecast by saying, “This color is one of the most beautiful and concentrated shades of pink in diamonds that I have ever seen, it is not surprising that it would command the highest per-carat pre-sale estimate for any pink diamond to date.” This recent Pink Diamond find will be previewed in Singapore, Taipei, New York, London, Geneva and Hong Kong just before being auctioned off.

The “Blue Moon” Diamond

One of the world’s rarest blue diamonds is aptly dubbed as the Blue Moon — after the adage “once in a blue moon.” The Blue Moon diamond is set to make its first and probably its only public appearance in an exhibition at the National History Museum of Los Angeles County. The exhibit will run from September 13 to January 6.

Blue diamonds are already rare by themselves but what makes the Blue Moon diamond even more special is the superlative gradings it has received from the Gemological Institute of America. The Blue Moon diamond has been given a color grading of Fancy Vivid which is the highest possible color grading for natural colored diamonds. Additionally, it has a clarity grading of Internally Flawless.

Not only that, the Blue Moon has also gone through ultraviolet light testing which revealed that the blue diamond gave off an orangey glow for 20 seconds — a significantly longer glow time than that produced by most blue diamonds. The ultraviolet light testing was performed by the Smithsonian Institute under the supervision of Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection. The color of a blue diamond is attributed to the presence of the trace element Boron within the carbon structure of the stone. Boron is also responsible for the red glow phosphorescence emitted under ultraviolet light.

The orangey glow emitted by the Blue Moon diamond created a stir as this means that the blue in the Blue Moon diamond is true and saturated all throughout the stone and that it is not mixed with any other color — such as gray, for example, which is a common color presence in other blue diamonds. It must be noted that while most blue diamonds exhibit a blue-green glow under ultraviolet light testing, the Blue Moon gave off an orangey glow which is a testament to its purity.

The largest known Fancy Vivid Flawless Diamond is the Winston Blue, a 13.22-carat stone which sold for $23.8 million at Christie’s Geneva in April. The Harry Winston luxury jewelry brand made the purchase of the pear-shaped blue diamond and named it Winston Blue. The per-carat price of $1.8 million set a world record for a blue diamond. The Winston Blue has been given a clarity grade that is one step higher than that of the the Blue Moon.

De Beers’ Secondhand Program in US

De Beers has just opened the International Institute of Diamond Valuation or IIDF in New York’s Diamond District, as part of its “insight program” that would evaluate and purchase second hand diamonds from retailers in the United States.

Headed locally by Mitchell Marder who comes from S. Bichachi Blumenfeld Diamond Company, the International Institute of Diamond Valuation will work, for the next 6 months, with a select yet still unnamed group of four retailers who represent a total of 15 doors. All four retailers are known to De Beers as they have been carrying the De Beer’s Forevermark diamond brand.

Under the IIDV program, consumers who bring their diamonds to these stores for selling will be facing two options. The first option would be for the stone to be evaluated in-store and given a market price quote based on the findings of the IIDV lab.

The second option would be for the stone to be sent to the IIDV facility in New York where De Beers will remove the stone from its mounting, if needed, and subject it to an evaluation process to ensure that it is not a synthetic or lab-grown diamond. De Beers will then return the stone to the retailer along with a market price quote. The re-sale market worth of the diamond will be based on a De Beer’s database of prices of more than 100,000 diamonds.

Should the consumer decide to sell his diamond to the jeweler at the set price, the diamond becomes the property of De Beers, in which case De Beers reimburses the jeweler the sale price plus a certain markup. Alternatively, the stone can be retained by the retailer.

Accordingly, De Beers expects that in this way they can purchase many of the diamonds they evaluate and then resell these stones on the wholesale market.

The rationale for the program is based on the research finding that the consumer experience with regards to diamond reselling is “weak.” Tom Montgomery, De Beer’s executive and official CEO of IIDV, explained it thus, “Some retailers have expressed reservations… about how the current reselling experience could impact consumers’ views on diamond equity in the long term. We believe that the only way to gain a true understanding of diamond reselling activity by consumers is to run a small-scale program to assess how reselling has developed, how it might evolve and how it impacts consumer perception of diamonds.”

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