Displaying items by tag: Diamonds

The History of Diamonds in Engagement Rings

Jack Ogden FGA takes a look at the history of diamonds being used in engagement rings. You might be a little surprised at how far the custom dates back...

Here is a question for you. Read this sentence about engagement rings: “As for the engagement ring, modern fashion prescribes a diamond solitaire, which may range in price from two hundred and fifty to two thousand dollars.” When do you estimate that was written? Before or after World War II? 

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Harrods Unearths 228.31 ct Diamond from its Vaults for Private Sale

London department store Harrods has delved into its vault to unveil a 228.31 ct diamond for the first time.

Nicknamed ‘The Harrods Diamond’ by its anonymous owner, the stone has been released from the retailer’s safety deposit vault and is now available to view by appointment only.

The pear-shaped, G-colour, VS1-clarity polished diamond can be counted among the world’s rarest, largely due to its incredible size but also its exceptional cut and symmetry.

While the majority of large diamonds are sold at auction, Harrods is offering interested parties the chance to buy this diamond privately on a first come, first serve basis.

Read more: The History of Diamonds in Engagement Rings

Chief merchant at Harrods, Helen David, comments: “We are thrilled to unveil one of the world’s rarest diamonds, the so-called Harrods Diamond, named after the iconic Knightsbridge store.  It is rare that stones of this weight, cut, polish and symmetry are sold outside auction, so this is an exceptional opportunity for Harrods’ customers and a very exciting moment in Harrods’ history.”

228.31 ct Harrods' Diamond
The 228.31 ct Harrods Diamond. Image courtesy of Harrods

Harrods has long offered its most affluent customers access to its Victorian-era safe deposit facilities, comprising small boxes all the way up to whole strong rooms. All are available for fixed annual rates and are accessible via a single key, which remains in the customer’s possession at all times.

Although the price of the Harrods Diamond is only available upon application, predictions have been made as to the final figure.

In 2013, Christie’s auctioned one of the world’s most exceptional pear-shaped diamonds – an internally flawless, 101.73 ct, D-colour gem with perfect symmetry. It was eventually purchased for $26,746,541 (£21.5m).

Although the Harrods Diamond differs in colour, its larger size and luxurious association is likely to see its price soar to more than £20 million. ■  

Interested in finding out more about diamonds? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's diamond courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image courtesy of Harrods.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Last Chance to See the Record-Breaking Foxfire Diamond at the Smithsonian

The largest known uncut, gem-quality diamond mined in North America is available to view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History until February 2017.

The Foxfire Diamond, which weighs more than 187 carats, was unearthed in August 2015 at the Diavik Diamond Mind in the Barren Lands of Canada’s Northwest Territories. The site is just 130 miles from the Arctic Circle, leading those who discovered the gem to name it ‘Foxfire’ – inspired by an aboriginal description of the Northern Lights as similar to the swish of fox tails.

The discovery of the Foxfire caused something of a stir among miners in the region, who believed such large, gem-quality diamonds were unlikely to exist in the area. In fact, diamonds found over the previous decade generally peaked at six carats. Because of this, the mine’s equipment was configured to sift out stones smaller than six carats, while pulverising larger ones.

Read more: Harrods Unearths 228.31 ct Diamond from its Vaults for Private Sale

The 187.63 ct Foxfire should have been crushed, but its uncommonly flattened shape enabled it to safely pass through the filters.

Diamond enthusiasts in North America, or indeed those travelling to Washington D.C., are encouraged to see the Foxfire before it is removed from public view on February 16 2017. It will also be displayed alongside the infamous Hope Diamond in the Harry Winston Gallery of the museum.

Read more: An Exclusive Interview with Gem Cutter John Dyer

In June 2016, the Foxfire Diamond was acquired in an international auction by Deepak Sheth of Amadena Investments LLC/Excellent Facets Inc. Sheth elected to preserve the diamond intact, maintaining both its unique characteristics and interesting origin story.

He says: "Having North America’s largest known uncut, gem-quality diamond on display at the Smithsonian is a testament to the rarity of the Foxfire diamond. It also represents another significant chapter in the diamond’s remarkable story." ■  

Interested in finding out more about diamonds? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's diamond courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image courtesy of Amadena Investments LLC.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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A Quick Guide to the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London

Andrew Fellows FGA DGA takes a look some of the myths and legends associated with one of the world’s most famous gem collections, the Crown Jewels.

Foundations were laid for the Tower of London - where the famous Crown Jewels are housed - as early as 1066 by William the Conqueror. Successive monarchs then added to and reinforced the Tower, until, by the late thirteenth century, the general layout seen today was established. The Crown Jewels, the only working collection in Europe, is comprised of over 141 objects, which have been stored securely within the Tower for hundreds of years. It is these that attract hordes of tourists each year.

However, whilst the collection is worth seeing simply for the sheer beauty of the pieces, it is also worth seeing to learn about the captivating stories and histories behind some of the gems.

The Imperial State Crown

The Imperial State Crown - possibly the most well-known individual piece of regalia in the collection - is worn by the monarch at the end of his or her coronation ceremony, and is also used for the State Opening of Parliament. The Crown is such an important piece that it even has its own coach for these important occasions - one that is every bit as ornate as the crown itself. Weighing in at an impressive 3.17 kg, it can only be worn for short periods.

One story says that when George IV was crowned in 1821, he developed a toothache that he blamed on the weight of the crown! The crown contains some of the most important jewels in the Royal Collection, many of which also have the most interesting stories attached to them.

The Black Prince's Ruby

One story that most gemmologists are familiar with is that of the Black Prince's Ruby. This is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and most sinister stones… and one which is also completely misnamed. Although referred to as ruby, this is actually a very large gem-quality red spinel, presented to Edward of Woodstock, a fourteenth century Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and Prince of Aquitaine, referred to more often as ‘The Black Prince’.

The Imperial State Crown. Copyright Cyril Davenport. Tower of London
The Imperial State Crown. Copyright Cyril Davenport

The gem, which sits in the cross pattée above the Cullinan II at the front of the crown, has a very dark and bloody history. It was first recorded in the fourteenth century as being owned by a Moorish Prince, Abu Said, who attempted to surrender to the conquering forces of Pedro the Cruel. Abu Said was ambushed under a flag of truce and executed with this large spinel being taken from his corpse. This was just the start of the trail of blood, as Pedro himself broke several contracts, before presenting the stone to Prince Edward as a down payment for military assistance. The remainder of the payment was supposed to consist of treasure and jewels, but was never delivered, and eventually Pedro himself was ambushed and stabbed to death by his half-brother.

Read more: Last chance to see the record-breaking Foxfire Diamond at the Smithsonian

The stone was later worn in the battle helmet of Henry V when he went into the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and allegedly saved his life when he received a blow to the head from an axe - one which destroyed the helmet, but didn't kill Henry. The 'ruby' was recovered from the shattered helmet and remained with Henry V until his death. The same unfortunately cannot be said of Richard III, who also wore the 'ruby' in his battle helmet when he fought at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Presumably, Richard thought it would protect him and bring him luck, but sadly he was mistaken and died on the battlefield. This same ruby was later used in the crowns of Henry VI, Edward IV and Henry VIII (who wore it in a collar), before being sold by Charles I. It was returned to the monarchy for the crown of Charles II, and was subsequently used for the coronation of George IV.

St Edward's Sapphire

Also in the Imperial State Crown is a sapphire, set in the cross on top of the Crown. Legend has it that this sapphire once resided in the coronation ring of Edward the Confessor, and that one evening he was passing through Westminster when he happened upon a beggar. Having already given away all the money he had on him, he gave the ring to the beggar and thought nothing further of it.

Read more: The history of diamonds in engagement rings

Years later two Englishmen were on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and, in the middle of a violent storm, saw an old man approaching them. When the old man heard that the two men were English, and that Edward was still King, the old man offered them shelter for the night. When they departed the next morning, the old man revealed himself to be John the Evangelist, and told them that years ago King Edward had given him a ring, which he still had, and gave it to them to return to the King, with a message that he, John, would see the King in Paradise as a reward for his kindness in six months' time. When the two men returned to England, they gave both the ring and the message to King Edward, who immediately prepared for his death. The King died six months later, to be buried with the ring on his finger. Stranger still is the fact that when the tomb was reopened in the twelfth century, the ring was found on a perfectly preserved corpse.

Tower of London at night. Copyright Kjetil Bjørnsrud. Tower of London
Tower of London at night. Copyright Kjetil Bjørnsrud

Whilst some of these stories are merely legend and may or may not be true, what is known as fact is that the Crown Jewels contain some of the best known and largest diamonds in the world, the most famous of which are probably the Koh-i-Noor and the Cullinan.

The Cullinan Diamond

The Cullinan was found at the Premier Mine in South Africa, on the afternoon of 26 January 1905, by the mine superintendent, Captain Frederick Wells. Initially he doubted it was a diamond as it weighed 3106 ct and measured 3 7/8 × 2 1/4 × 2 5/8 inches, well over twice the size of any other diamond found to that date. This was sold to the Transvaal government for £150,000, and two years later the still uncut diamond was presented to King Edward VII on his 66th birthday. Cutting of the stone was a job given to I. J. Asscher and Company, of Amsterdam, who had some experience of cutting large diamonds, although nothing on this scale or value. After three months of consideration, the Cullinan was ready to be cut.

In those days the only way to divide a diamond was by cleaving it - effectively 'hitting' the stone in precise directions to cause the diamond to part along weaker directions, but this had to be done carefully, in order to avoid shattering it. Careful cleaving resulted in nine major 'pieces', and 96 offcuts. Once the whole cutting process was completed, a total of 1063 ct remained.

Read more: Harrods unearths 228.31 ct diamond from its vaults for private sale

The nine major stones, named Cullinan I to Cullinan IX, all reside in the Royal Collection. The majority are set in such a way as to be interchangeable into other pieces of jewellery. Cullinan I, also known as the Star of Africa, is in the Royal Sceptre, and weighs just over 503 ct, making it the largest colourless pearcut diamond in the world. The Cullinan II (the 'Lesser Star of Africa'), is the largest cushioncut diamond in the world, weighing 317 ct, and is set into the front of the Imperial State Crown. It also has two platinum loops on its setting, so that it can be removed and worn alone, as a brooch or pendant, or with the Cullinan I accompanying it.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

A second notable diamond exists in the Queen Mother's Crown, this being the Koh-i-Noor, which translates as 'Mountain of Light'. This impressive diamond currently weighs 105.6 ct, having been recut from its original 186 ct for Queen Victoria in 1852.

There is a legend that this stone will bring good luck to any woman who wears it, but a curse to any man! It is said that in 1739 Nadir Shah of Persia conquered the Mogul region, but could find no sign of this rare and fabled diamond, said to be held by the rulers, until one member of the royal court told him of the stone's location. Shah then threw a celebration, and offered to exchange turbans with the conquered leaders as a show of everlasting friendship, knowing that this was the hiding place of the Koh-i-Noor.

The diamond changed hands many times over the coming decades, until in 1850, the Koh-i-Noor finally found its way to England and to Queen Victoria, where it has remained ever since.

Whilst the Crown Jewels are a wonderful piece of English history, they are also shrouded in legend, and are more than just adornments. There are a multitude of stories and histories, all waiting for visitors to uncover. Whether you appreciate them from a gemmological or historical perspective, or simply want to see jewels that most of us will never afford, the Crown Jewels are the perfect way to spend a day in London. ■ 

This article originally appeared in Gems&Jewellery Sept/Oct 2016 / Volume 25 / No. 5 pp. 14-15

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image the nine major uncut stones split from the rough Cullinan diamond in order of size (largest to smallest).


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Vivid Purple and Violet Diamonds Shine in 'Rare Brilliance' Showcase

A breath-taking array of rare, fancy colour diamonds is on display now at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA).

The 'Diamonds: Rare Brilliance' exhibit features diamonds never seen before in the United States, including the largest violet diamond ever discovered in Australia’s Argyle Mine. Anyone with a passion for diamonds is encouraged to view the full collection before it is taken out of public view on March 19, 2017.

Included in the collection are three exceptionally rare fancy coloured diamonds: a 30.3 ct Fancy Intense Pink, a 2.83 ct Fancy Deep Grayish Bluish Violet and a 1.64 ct Fancy Vivid Purple diamond, all loaned by L. J. West - a New York-based diamond house.

The Juliet Diamond

'Diamonds: Rare Brilliance' is centred round a 30.03 ct Fancy Intense Pink, also known as The Juliet Diamond, which was cut from a 90 ct rough found in South Africa. The Juliet Diamond - romantically named after Romeo and Juliet - is similar to the 34.65 ct, cushion-cut Fancy Intense Pink Princie Diamond, which was discovered 300 years ago in the Golconda Mines. It was sold by Christie’s in April 2013 for $39.3 million.

Rather than being presented on its own, the Juliet is mounted in an impressive necklace set with 98.70 ct of round brilliant, pear and marquise-cut colourless diamonds of E and F colour and VVS clarity.

Juliet Pink Necklace. Image Courtesy of Brian Lazar. NHM LA
Juliet Pink Diamond - set in a necklace with marquise, pear and round-cut shape white diamonds. Image Courtesy of Brian Lazar

 

The Argyle Violet Diamond

Named after its place of discovery - the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia - the Argyle Violet is a sensational and almost impossibly rare 2.83 ct Fancy Deep Grayish Bluish Violet gem. Its hypnotic colour was the star attraction at the 2016 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, which offered an invite-only look at this magnificent diamond.

The Argyle Violet was expertly cut from a 9.17 ct rough, with incredible skill used to harness the colour to its maximum potential.

Argyle Violet Ring. Image courtesy of Aaron Celestian. NHM of LA
Argyle Violet Ring. Image courtesy of Aaron Celestian

 

The Victorian Orchid Vivid Purple

The 1.64 ct, cushion-cut, Fancy Vivid Purple 'Victorian Orchid' diamond is considered one of the rarest in the world thanks to its unique colourway and SI2 clarity. It is displayed mounted in the centre of a flower-like platinum ring.

Victorian Orchid Vivid Purple. Image Courtesy of Aaron Celestian. NHM LA
Victorian Orchid Vivid Purple. Image Courtesy of Aaron Celestian

 

The Rainbow Diamond Necklace

'Diamonds: Rare Brilliance' also features the showstopping Rainbow Necklace set with 88 fancy radiant-cut, coloured diamonds in a range of hues (shown in cover image). The total diamond weight is 35.93 ct. According to L. J. West, it took five years to source all of the necessary diamonds for the piece and then complete the assembly process. 

All of these incredible diamonds will be available to view in the NHMLA’s 6,000 sq ft Gem and Mineral Hall until March 19, 2017. To find out more please click here. ■

NHMLA Gem and Mineral Hall. Image Courtesy of NHMLA
NHMLA Gem and Mineral Hall. Image Courtesy of NHMLA

Interested in finding out more about diamonds? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's diamond courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image Rainbow Diamond Necklace. Image courtesy of Brian Lazar.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Gem-A to Display Historic Instruments at 'Somewhere In The Rainbow' Tucson Exhibit

Gem-A has been invited to take part in a new exhibition of gemstones and gemmology in collaboration with Somewhere In The Rainbow and the University of Arizona Mineral Museum.

The 'Modern Gem and Jewelry Collection' exhibit will open at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium in Tucson, on Wednesday 1 February. Visitors will encounter exceptional gemstones from the 'Somewhere In The Rainbow Modern Gem and Jewelry Collection' - a broad selection of gemstones and specimens used to promote education and enjoyment of fine coloured gems to museums, galleries and institutions.

Fluorescent Gems: Natural coloured diamonds laid out in UofA logo by Sean Milliner
Fluorescent Gems: Natural coloured diamonds laid out in U of A logo by Sean Milliner

Read more: Inside the World of Photomicrographer Danny Sanchez

As part of the exhibition, Gem-A will display historic tools used throughout the ages by practicing gemmologists, including a spectroscope, refractometer, microscope and a Chelsea Colour Filter. The archival items on display will range in date from the early 1900s (although many are thought to be much older) through to the present day.

Highlights include the personal spectroscope of one of Gem-A’s founding fathers, Basil W. Anderson, and a special QR link to download ‘The Herbert Smith Refractometer’ - a publication written in 1907 by British mineralogist George Frederick Herbert Smith.

The exhibit will feature the work of 20 lapidary artists and designers, all of whom have won the coveted Spectrum Award from the American Gem Trade Association.

Read more: An Exclusive Interview with Gem Cutter John Dyer

A particular highlight of the collection is the 'Buddha Blue' – a sapphire faceted in 1400-1500 AD. 

The Buddha Blue Ceylon Sapphire Somewhere In The Rainbow
The Buddha Blue Ceylon Sapphire featured in the 'Somewhere In The Rainbow Gem and Jewelry Collection'

It was this particular specimen that inspired Somewhere In The Rainbow curator, Shelly Sergent, to invite eleven of today’s most inspiring gem-cutters to take part in the exhibition and bring their own style of gem cutting and faceting to Tucson.

Read more: Gem Central With Gem Dealer Marcus McCallum

Sergent adds: "We are thrilled for this collaboration of educational forces in the mineral, gemstone and jewelry world to be experienced and enjoyed. This will be the first time that the Somewhere In The Rainbow Collection will be available to this extent as an educational exhibition and we are honored to share it with University of Arizona and all who visit."

Somewhere In The Rainbow curator Shelly Sergent
Somewhere In The Rainbow curator Shelly Sergent

'A Modern Gem and Jewelry Collection' will be available to view from 1 February through to 15 January 2018, with paid admission to the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium. ■

If you would like more information about this exhibit, please contact Shelly Sergent. shelly@somewhereintherainbow.com

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

All images courtesy of the Somewhere In The Rainbow Facebook page


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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The Tale of the Mouawad-Tereschenko Blue Diamond

Jack Ogden FGA looks into the story of the world's second largest blue diamond, the Mouawad Blue Diamond, previously known as the Tereschenko Blue Diamond. 

In the summer of 1984 David Warren, now Senior International Jewellery Director at Christie’s, received a phone call from the auction house’s bank manager with a question: “Do Christie’s sell blue diamonds? Our client has one the size of a pigeon’s egg.”

Read more: The History of Diamonds in Engagement Rings 

The huge gem turned out to be the Tereschenko diamond, one of the least well known large blue diamonds, and at 42.92 ct, just a shade smaller than the 45.52 ct Hope. It sold at Christie’s in Geneva in November 1984 for a then-record price of $4.6 million to Robert Mouawad and is now called the Mouawad Blue. Unlike the Hope and many of the other famous diamonds, it has lacked a romantic history.

There has been no curse or celebrated Mughal emperor to add notoriety or spice. The Christie’s catalogue, and Lord Balfour in his standard work on the world’s great diamonds, simply notes that the first known appearance of the stone was in 1913 when the Ukrainian Mikhail Tereschenko left it with Cartier in Paris. 

Read more: Harrods Unearths 228.31 ct Diamond from its Vaults for Private Sale

In 1915 he instructed them to mount it in a necklace, which was returned to him in Russia before being spirited out of the country again in 1916, on the eve of the Russian Revolution. Then according to Christie’s and Balfour, it passed into anonymous private ownership until it came up at auction in 1984. 

Perhaps we can now add some spice, even a curse, to this story, by introducing a French dancer born in the final decade or so of the nineteenth century. She entered the entertainment world under the stage name of Mademoiselle Primrose and by 1911 was performing in Le Théâtre des Capucines in Paris. She was renowned for her attractiveness and, in a rather surreal article on the components of female beauty in Paris that appeared in various American newspapers in late 1911 and early 1912, she was noted as one of the most beautiful of reigning stage beauties in Paris with particular praise for her “most charming chin”.

Suzanne Marie Blanche Thuillier ca 1920. Tereschenko diamond
Suzanne Marie Blanche Thuillier ca 1920

If Mikhail Tereschenko left the 42.92 ct blue diamond with Cartier in Paris in 1913 he may have encountered Mlle Primrose in that city. This is not such a wild suggestion because in 1924 we hear of a former Parisian dancer named Mlle Primrose, real name Suzanne Marie Blanche Thuillier, who had resided for a time in St. Petersburg, Russia, and who moved in Court circles there. She had left Russia for France just before the Revolution and was the owner of what was described as a 43 ct blue diamond, called by some the ‘Russian Imperial Blue’, and by others (rather bizarrely) the ‘Blue Diamond of Ceylon’.

The newspapers at the time gave myriad origins for the stone, neither verified nor mutually exclusive. It came from the eye of an idol in India; reached Russia in the time of Peter the Great; had been set in the Russian Crown Jewels; had been secretly purchased in London “under romantic circumstances” and so on. 

Read more: Gem-A to Display Historic Instruments at 'Somewhere In The Rainbow' Tucson Exhibit

One newspaper even hedged its religious bets and said the gem had “ornamented the finger of Buddha in a Hindu Temple". Particularly intriguing is a report in a British newspaper that "In April 1912, there were rumours in Hatton Garden that a diamond merchant was walking about with a quarter of a million in his wallet. In fact he had received from his Dutch agents a stone [a large blue diamond] which had been sent from America with instructions to let it fetch what it would."

This merchant supposedly pieced together the history of gem, found out that it had once belonged to the Russian Imperial family and put out feelers, which reached the then-Czar who sent an emissary to obtain it. Perhaps more about this supposed transaction will come to light, but in the meantime we can observe that a presence on the market in London in 1912 would tie in nicely with Tereschenko depositing a large blue diamond with Cartier in Paris in 1913.

After Mlle Thuillier and her diamond reappeared in France, some newspapers reported that she had been given it by Czar Nicholas as a token of his regard for her; others that it was given to her by "a member of the Imperial Court of Nicholas". The latter view was supported by those in the know who vehemently denied, or expressed indignation, at the suggestion that the late Czar gave Thuillier the diamond. Indeed, according to Le Parisien newspaper in June 1924, when directly asked where it came from Thuillier explained “evasively” that strictly speaking she was not admitted to the imperial court, but “frequented assiduously with the gentlemen of the court who occupied the highest positions”. She never claimed that the diamond was presented to her by the Czar. So, if a gentleman other than the Czar gave her the gem, Mikhail Tereschenko is perhaps a potential contender. 

Read more: Vivid Purple and Violet Diamonds Shine in 'Rare Brilliance' Showcase

Was a gift of the blue diamond the ticket to a new life outside Russia on the eve of the Revolution? She reportedly arrived in Nice in the South of France in 1916 and pawned it there that same year. The diamond had travelled in a secret pocket of her sealskin coat. 

Following her arrival in the South of France, Mlle Thuillier’s beauty and attire "made her a spectacle among the many lovely women". However, she gambled excessively and this "most notoriously extravagant woman in Europe" inevitably got into debt and had to pawn the blue diamond more than once. In June 1924 the diamond was in pawn for 200,000 francs with creditors circling, but there was the expectation that it would be redeemed and available for purchase. Apparently a Parisian dealer had already offered £125,000 and an American woman £200,000. 

The Tereschenko or Mouawad Blue Diamond
The Tereschenko or Mouawad Blue Diamond

What then occurred is unclear. There are reports that a Joseph Paillaud of Cap d’Ail, near Nice, had put up collateral of 1,350,000 francs and would take ownership of the diamond if not repaid in full by 9 December 1924. Mlle Thuillier made a plea to the Court and in March 1925 the Civil Court in Nice removed it from Paillaud’s possession. Apparently Paillaud’s actions equated with acting as a pawnbroker, an activity for which he was not licensed. A police search of his house - named, ironically, Chalet Russe (Russian Chalet) - revealed numerous pieces of jewellery lacking the required hallmarks plus records of transactions that were not properly registered.

Mlle Thuillier might well have predicted Paillaud’s bad luck. A newspaper report in 1929 recounted that she had believed the diamond to be cursed. This may be typical press sensationalism, but some accounts say she was something of a mystic with an interest in the occult and in 1924 was even considering taking the gem back to India so it might be replaced on the statue of Buddha from which it had been robbed. It clearly never made it back to the statue and the last we hear of the large blue diamond is in March 1925, in the custody of the clerk of the civil court in Nice.

The last we hear of the celebrated Mlle Primrose - with her charming chin - is in jail in Nice in April 1929, after several years of dire poverty. Her desperate situation had driven her to forgery. What happened to the large blue diamond from 1925, until it resurfaced at Christie’s Geneva in 1984 is so far unknown, but a French newspaper in 1924 had already commented that the diamond had "undoubtedly not yet finished the cycle of events of its adventurous life". 

Note: The above was compiled from contemporary press accounts from Europe and America. Their lack of accuracy is demonstrated by their confusions and contradictions, so for now this is a tale of the Mouawad-Tereschenko diamond, not necessarily the tale of the Mouawad-Tereschenko diamond 

This article originally appeared in Gems&Jewellery March/April 2016 / Volume 25 / No. 2 pp. 32-33

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image an exact CZ replica of the Mouawad blue.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


Additional Info

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An Interview with GCDC Award Winner Julia Neill

Julia Neill was one of the 2017 winners of Gem-A’s contribution to the Goldsmiths' Craft & Design (GCDC) Awards, often referred to in the industry as the 'Jewellery Oscars'. Angharad Kolator Baldwin speaks to the designer about the inspiration behind her work.

Founded in 1908 the Goldsmith’s Craft & Design Council aims to encourage and stimulate excellence in design and craftsmanship in the UK across a range of disciplines including silversmithing, goldsmithing and jewellery. The annual awards have a range of patrons, sponsors and contributors. This year Gem-A awarded, two scholarships at the ceremony, with applications open to all entries that included gem materials in their work. 

Julia Neill was awarded the scholarship for her beautiful Clip Ring & Ear Cuff design. Tomasz Donocik won the Gem-A prize for his enchanting piece “The Dune Stellar” Detachable Earrings. The well-deserved winners have secured a place on a five day Diamond Grading and Identification Course taking place at Gem-A headquarters. 

Jewellery designer Julia Neill. GCDC awards.
Jewellery designer Julia Neill. 

London based Julia Neill is the founder of the jewellery brand AFFIYETTE. She started her career in fashion before moving to jewellery design. Every piece in the AFFIYETTE collection is hand crafted by Julia and here she reveals her decision to enter the awards and the inspiration behind her winning piece.  

 

Julia Neill's winning design Clip Ring & Ear Cuff. Image courtesy of Julia Neill. GCDC award.
Julia Neill's winning design Clip Ring & Ear Cuff. 

Q. When did you first become interested in jewellery design?

I have always had an affinity with jewellery. From a young age I would pile on necklaces and curate collections of objects to tell a story. After ten years in the fashion industry designing womenswear I decided to return to the Royal College of Art and retrain in Jewellery and Metal as a passion project.   

Q. Do you have a favourite piece in your collection?

The piece I entered for the Goldsmiths' Craft & Design Council Awards is my most treasured piece. I love the juxtaposition of luxury with minimal design.  

Julia Neill's winning design Clip Ring & Ear Cuff. Image courtesy of Julia Neill. GCDC awards.
Julia Neill modelling her winning design Clip Ring & Ear Cuff. 

Q. What prompted you to enter the Goldsmiths' Craft & Design Council Awards?

After being shortlisted for the Make Your Mark Awards and having my work exhibited in Goldsmith’s Hall it gave me the confidence to apply. It is such a prestigious event and known as the 'Jewellery Oscars', to be involved is a real honour. 

Q. What was the inspiration behind your winning piece?

My research at the Royal College of Art looks at how objects become iconic within subcultural groups. I am interested in elevating mundane objects into modern luxury and how an object’s meaning can be reinterpreted through time. This piece has 0.10 ct of diamonds set into it. I am particularly drawn to the light reflectivity of diamonds and the magical way they illuminate the body when worn. I like to play with proportion and the placement of stone setting, this piece has a 'dipped in' diamonds look as if it has been partially submerged in stones. 

Q. How did it feel to win the Gem-A Diamond Scholarship?

It is such a great opportunity, diamonds are integral to my work and to gain an in-depth knowledge of these precious stones is such an amazing privilege. 

Q. What do you hope to learn from the Diamond Course at Gem-A?

To meet and work with experts within this field and understand diamond identification will definitely influence my future decisions and reasoning behind choosing diamonds.

Q. What is next for you?

Designing and redefining modern fine jewellery collections for my brand AFFIYETTE and using diamonds to accentuate my designs in-between having a baby and continuing with my research. A very busy time ahead! ■ 

To view more of Julia Neill’s designs visit her Instagram @affiyette 

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image Julia Neill's Clip Ring & Ear Cuff. All images courtesy of Julia Neill. 


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Birthstone Guide: Rock Crystal for Those Born in April

Julia Griffith FGA DGA EG, gemmology and diamond tutor at Gem-A, reveals the birthstone for April.

Everyone knows that those lucky, April-born souls have been blessed with one of the most prestigious birthstones - diamond. However there are alternative birthstone for this month, such as rock crystal quartz, which is slinking its way into modern jewellery designs. 

Read more: Exploring the Wonders of Myanmar

Rock crystal is the purest variety of quartz and is transparent and completely colourless. Its name derives from the Greek term krustallos meaning 'ice' and is sister to colourful varieties such as amethyst and citrine. 

Quartz crystal cluster Tucson. Photo by Julia Griffith. April birthstone.
Quartz crystal cluster Tucson. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.

Out of the world of gemstones, rock crystal has something extra special to offer, as there is no other containing such a wide variety of attractive inclusions.

Read more: Zircon from Vietnam: Properties and Heat Treatments

Many may think of 'inclusions' as flaws, however, when viewing the array of possible features that can be available within this gemstone one may change this opinion.

Rutile in quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith. April birthstone
Rutile in quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.

There is rutilated quartz, tourmalinated quartz, fluorite in quartz, hematite in quartz, gilalite in quartz, pyrite in quartz… the list goes on! These different mineral inclusions add further varieties for rock crystal whilst offering dozens of different looks.

Fluorite in Quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith. April birthstone.
Fluorite in quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.

As part of the quartz family, rock crystal has a hardness of 7, is reasonably durable and stable for use in jewellery. It can be fashioned as carvings, cabochons or faceted gems. An additional bonus with quartz is that it is readily available in larger sizes and at wallet-friendly prices. 

Large quartz crystals at Tucson. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith. April birthstone.
Large quartz crystals at Tucson. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.

Transparent rock crystal has been used as an imitation of diamond for centuries, due to the fact they are both colourless. Rock crystal will not be as 'firey' as diamond as it does not disperse the light to the same degree, however, a well-cut rock crystal can be very brilliant with excellent return of white light.

Faceted rock crystals are still used as diamond imitations today, particularly as 'accent stones' in jewellery. Designers may choose to surround a coloured stone with melee-sized rock crystals rather than diamonds, offering affordable price-points to the consumer whilst giving a similar look.

Read more: An Interview with GCDC Award Winner Julia Neill

Quartz is a silica (SiO2) and is the most abundant mineral on Earth and therefore it is mined in many localities throughout the world. Quartz grows as long prismatic crystals with pyramidal points that can occur as single crystals, clusters and geodes - all of which can be very attractive and are commonly used as display pieces or set within jewellery. The largest single crystal recorded was from Itapore, Brazil and measured over 20 feet in length and weighed over 44 tonnes.

The industrial uses for rock crystal quartz outweigh its use in jewellery. It is used within the manufacture of glass, sand, ceramics, brick and abrasives (to name a few) and it is considered one of the world’s most useful natural materials.

Hematite in quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith. April birthstone.
Hematite in quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.

Since its successful synthesis in the 1950s, synthetic lab-grown quartz is used extensively for the majority of industrial processes and may also be found within the gem trade as fashioned stones. 

Notably, quartz is used in the mechanism of quartz watches (hence the name) and anyone who sells watches will know that quartz movements keep exceptionally accurate time losing only seconds over the life-time of the battery. This is thanks to quartz’s ability to release regular electronic impulses at precise frequencies. This rare property, known as piezoelectricity, is utilised within our GPS equipment, telephones and radios as well as in the mechanism, which triggers the airbags in our cars.

Read more: Aquamarine for Those Born in March

It is this property, which is thought to be exploited during crystal healing as the energy held within rock crystal is thought to amplify and channel universal energy.

Quartz crystals in Tucson. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith. April birthstone.
Quartz crystals in Tucson. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.

As awful as I feel for ignoring true gemstone royalty with the diamond; this April we’re celebrating the rock crystal – let it reign! ■

This article was written by Gem-A for the Mar/April 2017 issue of The Jeweller - The magazine of the National Association of Jewellers

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image Tourmaline in quartz. Image courtesy of Julia Griffith.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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New Record Set for the World's Most Expensive Diamond at Auction

The Pink Star estimated to sell at $60 m sold for $71.2 m at Sotheby's Hong Kong on 4 April with bidding lasting only 5 minutes, the highest price ever paid for a jewel at auction.

The Pink Star. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.
The Pink Star. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.

"The Pink Star has returned to rock the diamond world - and for all the right reasons. It is pure diamond perfection… but within the diamond auction world, the Pink Star has set a new bar," commented 77 Diamonds managing director Tobias Kormind.

Read more: Harrods Unearths 228.31 ct Diamond from its Vaults for Private Sale

When the Pink Star was last brought to auction by Sotheby's in 2013, it almost became the world's most expensive diamond. However, the winning bidder Isaac Wolf was unable to pay the $83 m promised and Sotheby's was forced to retain the diamond. The sale on 4 April marks a new chapter in the story of this extraordinary diamond. The buyer is Hong Kong jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery.

The Pink Star. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.
The Pink Star. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.

Read more: Vivid Purple and Violet Diamonds Shine in 'Rare Brilliance' Showcase

A spokesperson for Chow Tai Fook Jewellery said, "The 'CTF Pink Star', the largest polish diamond of its class, is a legend and full of heritage, something in common with our brand. We are excited to have this beautiful piece to celebrate along with our 88th anniversary this year." Chow Tai Fook Jewellery was founded in 1929 and with more than 2000 stores throughout greater China is the world's largest jeweller. 

Read more: The Tale of the Mouawad-Tereschenko Blue Diamond

A unique and incredibly rare stone, the Pink Star at 59.60 ct is the largest vivid pink internally flawless diamond ever graded by the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America).  Mined in South Africa in 1999 by De Beers, the rough stone weighed 132.50 ct. The stone was unveiled to the public in May 2003 at the Monaco Grand Prix.  

The Pink Star. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.
The Pink Star. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.

 

Other Historic Diamond Sales

May 2016: The Oppenheimer Blue, 14.62 ct, sold at Christie's Geneva for $57.5 m, setting an auction record. It was sold to an anonymous buyer. 

Nov 2016: The Blue Moon of Josephine, 12.03 ct, sold at Sotheby's Geneva for $48.4 m, the highest price ever paid per carat for any diamond at auction - over $4m per carat. The diamond was bought by Joseph Lau for his 7 year old daughter.

Nov 2010: The Graff Pink, 24.78 ct sold at Sotheby's Geneva for $46.2 m, believed to be the most expensive gemstone bought at the time at auction. Purchased by Laurence Graff. ■

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image the pink start mounted. Image courtesy of 77Diamonds.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Additional Info

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Exploring a Spectrum of Diamonds with the Aurora Pyramid of Hope

Curator Alan Bronstein reveals how the world-renowned Aurora Pyramid of Hope evolved and shares the story behind his lifelong passion for coloured diamonds. 

Diamonds shown are between 0.5-1.5 ct. Copyright Aurora Gems Inc. Image courtesy of Robert Weldon.
Diamonds shown are between 0.5-1.5 ct. Copyright Aurora Gems Inc. Image courtesy of Robert Weldon.

It is difficult to trace all the challenges, twists and turns, triumphs and failures, which characterise the journey of a dream from fantasy to reality. For me, it all began with one experience, one stone, and one revelation. In 1977, as a college graduate who could not find a job, it was suggested by my mother Jeanette, the book-keeper at the New York Diamond Dealers Club, that I become a diamond broker. 

Such a job only required you try to sell loose colourless diamonds from one dealer to another. Such a job did not require any skills other than banging on doors (you could still do that in 1977) and getting offers on the diamonds you were soliciting. I found it to be one of the least fulfilling ways I could spend my time, as diamonds were already becoming commoditised by the price lists all diamond dealers carried. As a result, the illusion of what might be a visually beautiful stone disintegrated when it was deemed not to fit within the defined parameters of the emerging grading system, which qualified the stone on paper as a commodity. 

 

As fate often intervenes at the moment it is most necessary, just as I was about to make my break for the unknown, I saw something I had never seen in my years as a diamond broker; a yellow diamond that shined like the sun, hypnotising me and opening my mind to something new and exciting. Although it was part of the natural diamond world, it was a well-kept secret. Not because they had no beauty but because diamond dealers did not know how to make money with them, and thought they were the poor cousins to the 98% highly-promoted and coveted colourless diamonds. There were no discussions about them, they were never advertised and remained an underground trade that was only mentioned among the few aficionados in the diamond industry who collected them as curiosities, simply because they could not sell them. 

Into this small group of connoisseurs, I was embraced as a broker and as a peer because of my intuition for recognising the idiosyncrasies within the colours of the diamonds. This small group of mentors allowed me into their private world, and I learned what to keep my eyes open for from their experience and knowledge. This is the ultimate and true way to learn, from the wisdom of experts that have come before you. What a gift to be allowed to study among this exclusive club of dealmakers. 

The first thing I learned was not all yellow diamonds have the same colour characteristics. I saw all different colour reflections in almost every stone I looked at carefully. At this time, in 1980, the grading system so highly-regarded in colourless diamonds was generalised in coloured diamonds, to say the least. All yellowish diamonds were called yellow. All pinkish diamonds called pink. Yet when you had an opportunity to make comparisons, you could often see major differences in saturation and colour modifiers that were not identified by the labs. 

Instinctively, one could tell that the science of natural colour diamonds was in its infancy and that to determine a greater hierarchy of colours, perceived as more desirable, would be an advantage to finding, selecting, buying and selling the prettiest stones. It was the fork in the road I was travelling. 

The Aurora Pyramid of Hope collection - polished diamonds. Image courtesy of The Trustees of NHM, London.
The Aurora Pyramid of Hope collection - polished diamonds. Image courtesy of The Trustees of NHM, London.

I set out to find small sample stones that would be my standard for analysing differences that were hard to notice without comparison. These few small sample stones became the foundation for my business and for the concept that would become the Aurora Pyramid of Hope. 

Soon my interest and passion turned into an obsession. Every day I would enthusiastically go hunting for unusual diamonds as the colour matrix began to fill in. Often I would see something new, something different, quite often with dealers who did not know what to do with their curiosity. 

Soon I realised even though many stones had similar colour characteristics and intrinsic colours, when scrutinised subtle differences would become clearer leaning toward a spectral modifier. Even the shape and cut, angles and facet arrangements of the stone would change the appearance of the face up colour. 

This was a turning point, as I decided without the means to do so, that I would try to organise a collection with as many different colours as I could find, afford and obtain. The colour of the stones, many of which one would find extraordinary and many that were commonly seen, would be the primary driving force for gathering. Other factors like size, natural inclusions, and natural phenomena like fluorescence were secondary to trying to find stones that fit the universal matrix of colour in nature and specifically diamonds. 

For the last 37 years, beginning with the first sample stone to the present, I have collected 296 diamonds that now compose the Aurora Pyramid of Hope. The collection has gone through a metamorphosis in its composition and its meaning. It has served a great purpose for science, through studies of its colours at museums and laboratories around the world, and revealed many secrets that have advanced our understanding of these rare gemstones. 

 

Waterfall: Polished diamonds from the Aurora Pyramid of Hope collection. Copyright The Trustees of NHM, London. Image courtesy of Robert Weldon.
Waterfall: Polished diamonds from the Aurora Pyramid of Hope collection. Copyright The Trustees of NHM, London. Image courtesy of Robert Weldon.

As the colour matrix began to fill in, it took on a new meaning for me. At some moment my consciousness gave way to the concept that the pyramid was not just a science project but also a work of art in a new medium. A painting using only unmounted loose diamonds had never been seen before. 

I saw humanity in the collection as it grew. All the colours, shapes and inclusions were the perfect metaphor for all the races, colours, religions, faces of people and the infinite personalities that make us all individuals. I am also of the belief that we are related to diamonds, because we are made from the same essence created by the universe – carbon – the key element in all living things. Although natural diamonds seem inanimate, they reveal life through their brilliance. 

The pyramid shape itself has many spiritual and historical meanings that add to the symbolism I have tried to create. As does the name Aurora, the Roman goddess of the sunrise, and the colourful lights that appear at the northern and southern tips of the earth. 

When the collection was about to go on display at The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, all the stones were in parcel paper and it was at this moment that I had to figure out how to present them. As I experimented with different forms, by laying out stones, it soon evolved naturally into the pyramid shape seen today. It unconsciously pulled me in that direction and I was pleased at its display and play of colours. 

I have many favourite stones in the collection; some for their stories and some for their extraordinary colours. One such amazing story is when a South American miner showed me a small rough diamond that was opaque and coated black. He had cut one flat surface into the stone so when you peered through this window it appeared green in colour. Many stones like this were colourless inside when you removed the skin coating the stone, which was caused by natural radiation in the ground. Other stones with this outer skin were often black or ground into diamond powder, because they were not considered gem material.

Green diamond: the original rough on the left and the finished stone emerald cut on the right. Copyright Aurora Gems Inc. Image courtesy of Robert Weldon.
Green diamond: the original rough on the left and the finished stone emerald cut on the right. Copyright Aurora Gems Inc. Image courtesy of Robert Weldon.

 

This particular stone was re-examined in the lab during the multiple phases of cutting over one year, to make sure it was the same specimen and that it had not been treated from the previous observation. At the end of the process, to my shock and that of the lab, it emerged as the most beautiful natural green diamond I have seen to this day.

The collection is, however, dynamic, and I have continued to collect and look for missing pieces to the puzzle. A further 36 stones were added in 2005 when the collection went on exhibit at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, joining the original 260 documented in 1998. I also replaced 20 stones that I felt would improve the variety and aesthetics of the original suite, thus the pyramid is greatly improved from its original museum exposure in 1989 at AMNH in New York where it spent 16 years. 

L-R Dr Jeffrey Post, Harry Rodman and Alan Bronstein in front of the Aurora Butterfly of Peace collection at the Smithsonian. Photo courtesy of Alan Bronstein.
L-R Dr Jeffrey Post, Harry Rodman and Alan Bronstein in front of the Aurora Butterfly of Peace collection at the Smithsonian. Photo courtesy of Alan Bronstein.

The Pyramid of Hope’s sister is the Aurora Butterfly of Peace; a collection evolved from the desire to make a pure artwork painting with natural colour diamonds. It was a 12 year process of building and arranging its mythic shape. Although the concept behind the pyramid began as science and became art, the butterfly began as an artwork and was also a bounty for science. It is proof that nature is science and art, and nature is the greatest artist of all. 

Along with its sister, the Aurora Pyramid of Hope is meant to be a universal non-secular artwork and symbol to point humanity to our common purpose for living; hope, peace and love. It serves as a legacy for all mankind. 

Alan Bronstein is the curator of the Aurora Pyramid of Hope with the financial assistance of his late step-father and business partner Harry Rodman. ■ 

Gem-A members can log in to read the full article Gems&Jewellery Spring 2017 / Volume 26 / No. 1

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image From the Aurora Pyramid of Hope collection - rough and polished diamonds. Image courtesy of The Trustees of the NHM, London. 


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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75 Years of Swiss Gemmological Expertise: Alan Hart at The European Gemmological Symposium 2017

Gem-A CEO, Alan Hart, attended the European Gemmological Symposium last week in Zermatt, Switzerland where he presented an exclusive talk highlighting the case of the Koh-i-Noor. The Symposium, consisting of two days of Conference, coincided with the prestigious 75th Anniversary celebration of the Swiss Gemmological Society (SGS).

Across the two days there was an impressive selection of 24 internationally distinguished speakers from across the industry, delivering an extensive collection of gemmological focused topics from diamonds and pearls to coloured gemstones and jewellery.

Read more: Line-up of symposium speakers

Alan Hart explored the case of the Koh-i-Noor; questioning whether the differential hardness of diamond is directly responsible for the form of Mogul cut stones. Within his talk, Alan focused upon the historical origins of arguably one of the world's most famous diamonds, drawing the interest of many conference attendees.

Originally referred to as 'Mountain of Light' in Persian, the flat 105.602 carat oval stone now sits at the centrepiece of the Queen Mother's Coronation Crown. Despite the stone culminating as an end product of an original historical 'Mogul cut' diamond and thus criticised for its lack of fire and brilliance in the Great exhibition of 1851, today, close to three million visitors gather to see the British Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Early origins of the Koh-i-Noor are limited and contradictory in nature which is why, even today, there remain a number of issues questioning when and who cut this beautiful historical stone. A unique plaster cast replica of the original stone, commissioned by the British Museum in 1851, was re-discovered amongst the Mineral Collection of the Natural History Museum. Alan showcased how through analytical techniques from simple modelling to laser x-ray scanning, a unique cubic zirconia replica was used in a comprehensive 'crystallographic study' to elucidate the nature of the style of the 'Mogul cut'.

We know from rare and brief historical descriptions that skilled Indian lapidaries were aware of identifying the 'grain' within a diamond. Stereographic projection, identifying cleavage planes on the original form were used to re-orient the diamond within the cubic framework as well as superposition of differential hardness variations of diamond. This itself reveals that alongside the supposed original rough morphology, use of primitive techniques and wear rates, directional hardness anisotropy was the major physical constraint leading to 'Mogul cuts' final form.

Read more: The Koh-i-Noor Diamond at The Tower of London

We can infer that other Mogul and 'Mogul style' stones of this period, such as the Taj-e-Mah and Orlov were cut in similar ways with similar constraints. Any Mogul style form that does not align to this cubic framework therefore results from directional hardness anisotropy and cannot be considered genuine.

This research provides thought-provoking discussion on how the original Koh-i-Noor may have been cut and by whom as well as its complexity in being considered a unique artefact of its time. Such research further questions whether the intricacies of its properties are the result of a combination of European and Indian cutting styles. It is clear however, that the re-cutting of Koh-i-Noor in 1851 led to over 400 years of its history lost forevermore. Whilst an assuming 160 year old plaster cast of a diamond may initially appear uninteresting, this research demonstrates how collections can be unlocked and utilised in many fascinating and diverse ways.

For further event information please visit Gemmologie.

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

Cover image: Original plaster cast of the Koh-i-Noor. Image courtesy of A.Hart


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


Additional Info

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The Bewitching Finds of JCK Vegas

Certified gemmologist and founder of Pietra PR, Olga Gonzalez FGA DGA highlights the expansive new season trends that are set to shape and unite the future of the fine jewellery market.

With the official launch of JCK Las Vegas, North America’s leading annual jewellery trade event last month, Vegas became the prevailing hot house destination for discovering the latest looks in luxury jewellery design. As temperatures caught fire to a blazing 40°C (105°F for fellow Americans), Olga was immersed in a world of first-class jewellery inspiration, air-conditioned show room networking, exclusive technology trend forecasting all cooled down by a bonus poolside weekend wrap-up – anyone for a cocktail?

Indulge in the insider’s scoop of the covetable jewellery and gems under Olga’s industry spotlight…

Spryngs by Color Merchants

Buzzing with whispered rumour, the show floor was awash with grapevine rumbles that a company in the Plumb Club have found a way to make strikingly flexible diamond eternity bands, adjusting almost 1 to 2 sizes! Believing it to be too good to be true, Olga struck the insider jackpot at an evening Mix and Mingle soiree hosted by WJA, Gen-Next Jewelers and AGS Titleholders by rubbing noses with one of the makers of the company in chatter.

As it so happens the rumour was spot on! Sure enough, Spryng, a Brevani collection by Color Merchants launching at the show only this year was showcasing a patent pending on the spring mechanism. With Color Merchants directly in the limelight, their booth in JCK’s Plumb Club became a popular beehive as exhibitors, press and buyers alike caught wind of the whispers of the beautifully smart designs on display. Glimpse into the world of Color Merchants on http://www.brevani.com/.

Studio by Virtual Diamond Boutique

Only weeks before the launch of the JCK trade show, Virtual Diamond Boutique announced the green light on a full company rebrand. Amongst the various changes was the introduction of Studio by VDB, a light box for taking HD still photos and videos of diamonds and gemstones whereby media are automatically updated to the VBD app for free. With a booth packed full of interest, it is evident that this new virtual storefront is paving the way in reshaping how the industry sources and sells coloured gemstones and diamonds.

Abstract Jewellery

Making a splash in the design centre with her abstract design aesthetic, Coline Assade was hailed as an emerging talent to keep watch on with her colourful and contemporary forms. Her innovative creativity was showcased through her ‘Forest Spirit Collection’, featuring statement pendant faces in silver and enamel as well as rings with quirky features such as a leaf and human nose popping out unexpectedly.

Custom Hot and Cold Enamel Jewellery

With Enamel making an unmissable resurgence in fine jewellery, first time JCK exhibitor, Riva Precision Manufacturing became queen bee of the showcase with the arrival of their fresh new collection, Capabilities. The vertically integrated manufacturer is building up its reputation by reshaping and elevating their enamel department to new heights. Throughout the exhibit, stackable enamel rings featuring coloured gemstones as well as multicolour pendants were amongst the most popular pieces that set the beady eyes of many jewellery magpies alive. At present, Riva Precision Manufacturing offer bespoke customization of store- branded as well as luxury designer enamel jewellery, using either cold or ceramic designing methods.

Jewellery for the Sharp Dressed Man

Jewellery is notoriously marketed for the every-day woman, making the appearance of men’s jewellery brand Equinox a refreshing eye-opener on the showcase floor. Having recently updated their collection line with more designs, the combination of unique shapes and masculine accents provide a fashion-forward style for men. Having been their most popular piece to date, the saddle rings have now been relaunched in a brushed look where ruby, sapphire and brown diamond additions provide a diverse new collection line.

Additionally shifting audience focus to the males of society was ever-popular Lashbrook Designs. Launching their new release of Cerakote at the JCK show itself, this new coating comes in a plethora of colours which, when applied to silver or gold rings as well as their ever-loved Damascus steel collection provides endless possibilities for innovative style.

Packed full of creations encapsulated with fine craftsmanship, charm and eye-catching design, there is never a dull moment at the annual JCK trade show. Keep your eyes on the prize for trend coverage of the show in the upcoming issue of Gems&Jewellery magazine.

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image flexible eternity diamond band, Spryngs by Brevani. Image courtesy of Spryngs.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


Additional Info

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A Man of the Ocean: Diving for Organics with Eric Fritz

In a recent trip to the London headquarters, Eric Fritz, FDGA DGA manager of North America for Gem-A stopped by for an industry insider Q&A, educating us on theoretical and practical guidance of organic materials. Sarah Salmon speaks to the man of organic passion exploring the nature of these beautiful materials.

With a passion for pearls, a deep love for shells since the age of four and an extensive knowledge of coral, minerals and gemstones, Eric Fritz reveals his top tips when it comes to his specialty: organic gem materials.

Q. When identifying pearl, what are Gemmologists looking out for when grading their quality?

For value, you will be looking at whether it is a salt-water or freshwater pearl, whether it is natural - formed without any human involvement - or whether the pearl has been cultured. The most valuable in terms of quality across the board would be natural saltwater pearls. This would then be followed by natural freshwater pearls, saltwater cultured pearls to freshwater cultured pearls.

Roundness is also preferable when grading a pearl where the more perfectly round and larger it is without blemishes, the more precious it is considered. The bigger the pearl, provided it still has a good ‘roundness’ and lustre finish to it with minimal spots and blemishes to it, the more desirable and valuable it becomes.

Q. What causes the blemishes and imperfections to form on a pearl?

The blemishes are caused by the formation of the organic material itself. Formed by living organisms which, just like us are made up of a range of different imperfections, gives each pearl its unique, flawed composition. The living environment of the shellfish is also a key factor where surrounding waters may contain disease or the shell mechanism itself may malfunction; all of which directly affects the pearl quality.

Q. Where in the world are the most desirable pearls located?

Probably the most desirable and rarest natural pearl will always be the mellow mellow pearl. This is a yellow - golden range commonly found in Myanmar, Burma and Vietnam. The mellow mellow pearl is often hailed as the holy grail of all pearls due to being that of the most value.

The price of a pearl can vary widely in correlation to its size, ranging from $3000 to $65-70,000 at many Gem trade shows, even when such pearls contain blemishes and are therefore still considered imperfect

Q. We often hear about Mikimoto pearls, is this a particular brand or is it a type of organic pearl?

Mikimoto was the first person to commercially produce cultured pearls in Japan in the late 1800’s. Prior to this, cultured pearls had only been produced on an experimental basis but Mikimoto found a technique that he could use to sustainably produce small cultured pearls – typically 7mm - in small saltwater shells.

Its predecessors, being Gem-A, launched the first global Gem lab in London in order to differentiate cultured Mikimoto and natural pearls. The value of each was quite starkly different which meant that many London jewellers became concerned at the introduction of cultured pearls against the trade of more expensive natural pearls. Mikimoto, dating back over 100 years was, and probably still is, the top quality Japanese Akoya pearl on the market.

Q. Being similar in name, what is the key difference between a conch shell and a conch pearl?

Great question! The Conch shell, Lobatus Gigas being its scientific species, occurs only in the Caribbean off the coast of North America, from Florida down through to the West Indies. It is a big shell that was originally gathered by the native people for food due to its very large edible muscle. It is said that 1 in a hundred conch shells could produce a pearl. Conch pearls come in a range of colours from whites to pinks to browns and yellows but it is the pink variety that remains to be the most valuable. We often believe that the very inside of the Conch shell is pink in colour which is why the pink pearl remains the rarest.

However it is also the inside of the conch shell that produces all of the varying colours of conch pearls. Imitations are created when people take the conch shell and try and cut around a bead, passing it off as a genuine pearl. However, these imitations always have concentric bands where, if you look at the side of the bead, you will see what looks like tree ring growth around the edges. This is a kay indication that this is not a real pearl, but an imitation that has been cut out of a shell.

Q. With a huge variety on the market, how do you identify and compare different seashells from one another?

Seashells come in such a wide variety of genus, ranging from freshwater to seawater environments. Dating back to the Victorian times, seashells were and still are highly collectable objects of nature. Linnaeus, founder of the Linnaeus society extensively named over half of the shells we have identified so far. Seashells are very easy to tell the different species apart as they visually look very different from one another.

Today however to differentiate shells via its species level, identification can require DNA analysis to indicate the differences from one shell to the next. They may look very similar but there is stark variation between the different species.

Q. If you’re looking to purchase a high quality shell, what attribute should one be looking for?

People are attracted to different shapes and colour forms with some buying what we call ‘valves’ where two halves of a shell are held together by a muscle, whilst others favour gastropods where the shell is one piece. Some people like to collect a whole family of shells, preferring only to select pieces within the same genus of shells, leading to a lot of variability. Shell prices for collectors range from £2-£3 up to £100,000 for those that are highly desirable.

Q. What are the key differences between 'hard' and 'soft' coral?

A lot of the time when you look at soft corals in its natural habitat under water, they can often look like plants or sea fans which move with the ocean current. They can range in appearance from big broad fans to tall upright branches but most tend to move. Hard coral contains more calcium carbonate than soft and are often what we refer to as coral reef. An expansive garden of skeletons makes up the coral bed where tiny living organisms live within the pores of these hard corals.

Q. Where is Coral found in abundance across the world?

Coral is most commonly found within temperate waters, including the Caribbean, Australia and the Pacific, with its particular type ranging from place to place. Coral will vary widely in habitat from shallow 3-5ft soft coral waters to deep hard coral found over 1000m underwater. The most precious coral for jewellery is the red coral of the Mediterranean, originally found 100ft under water by early fishermen.

This precious coral was thought to be extinct until divers located caves as shallow as 10-12ft containing this red coral species.

Q. So if you’re looking for a piece of jewellery containing red coral, how do you identify it as genuine and not an imitation?

Corals are fairly easy to differentiate with most of the corals – the precious corals – having visible striations that move across the stone/bead. This identifies the growth where the small tree -like structures were with vertical striations of the stems. Many corals are treated with dye to enhance their appearance so being aware of this when purchasing coral is important as those that have been dyed are no longer considered precious. Dyed coral can be identified when a concentrated colour is found along the edges of the stone where the dye has run in a cut stone or if the coral itself is a perfectly uniform colour without imperfection.

Coral value is similar to pearl where the more intense the colour, like red, the more valuable the material is deemed to its pink and orange counterparts.

Q. Final question, I promise! Out of pearl, coral and shell, what is your favourite organic material and why?

That’s a hard one! I have a much more extensive collection of shells since I started collecting them at only 4 years old on the coast which continues till today. In this case, since I’ve been interested for over fifty years, I would probably have to say shells. I collect two main families, the Cowrie shells as well as Conch shells of which The Queen conch is one of them. It was from collecting shells that I got to love pearl, especially as I am yet to find one. The question is tricky as the pearls live inside the shells which then live beside the coral so they are all connected!

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image of Coral Skeleton and Pearl. All images courtesy of Henry Mesa, Latin American Ambassador at Gem-A.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Rio Tinto Reveals The 2.11ct Argyle Everglow Red Diamond

It is always an exciting time of year when Rio Tinto unveils what has been discovered at its Argyle diamond mine. Typically, this is beautiful pink diamonds, with the occasional purplish violet tones. Even rarer still are the fancy red diamonds, which remain a mysterious quantity even today. 

It is without doubt that red diamonds are some of the most beautiful and captivating gemstones, largely due to their extreme rarity. In fact, it has been estimated that as few as 30% of all red diamonds have been discovered, leaving many curious to what showstoppers remain untouched below the surface.

The colour red is thought to symbolise love, passion and strength, which makes red diamonds an especially meaningful shade for collectors with significant funds. Those with an eye on the market will undoubtedly have spotted The Argyle Everglow - a 2.11 carat polished radiant-cut diamond presented as part of the 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender. 

Read more: The World's Most Expensive Diamond at Auction.

The Argyle Everglow was immediately identified for its miraculous size, colour and clarity and, after being assessed by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), it has been given a grade of Fancy Red VS2.

Just to put the significance of this into perspective, in the 22-year history of the Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, there have been less than 20 carats of fancy red certified diamonds sold.  

Argyle Everglow 2.11 carat radiant shaped Fancy Red. Image by Rio Tinto.

The 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, also named 'Custodians of Rare Beauty' will present 58 diamonds with a total carat weight of 49.39 carats, including four fancy red diamonds, four purplish red diamonds, two violet diamonds, and one blue diamond.

The five 'hero' diamonds in the collection are as follows:

  • The Argyle Everglow, 2.11 carat radiant shaped fancy red diamond
  • The Argyle Isla, 1.14 carat radiant shaped fancy red diamond
  • The Argyle Avaline, 2.42 carat cushion shaped fancy purple-pink diamond
  • The Argyle Kalina, 1.50 carat oval shaped fancy deep pink diamond
  • Argyle Liberté, 0.91 carat radiant shaped fancy deep grey-violet diamond

 

Argyle Avaline 2.42 carat cushion shaped fancy purple pink. Image by Rio Tinto.

Read more: 'Diamonds: Rare Brilliance' Showcase Collection.

Found primarily in Australia, Africa and Brazil, red diamonds are so rare that only 20 to 30 stones are officially known to exist with each one measuring less than half a carat on average.

Argyle Liberte 0.91 carat radiant shaped fancy deep gray violet. Image by Rio Tinto.

Argyle Kalina 1.50 carat oval shaped fancy deep pink. Image by Rio Tinto.

In light of the reveal of The Argyle Everglow, we hit the archives to recall the most spectacular discoveries of red diamonds that have captured the interest of high-end jewellers, aficionados and collectors worldwide...

The Hancock Red Diamond

Whilst this round brilliant-cut diamond is not famous for its size, weighing in at 0.95ct, it is praised for its astounding deep red and purple colours, making it one of the most highly sought-after stones to date.

The Kazanjian Red

With a history nearly as big as its size, this South African diamond, although later cut in the Netherlands, was found over 100 years ago weighing in at 5.05 carats from the original rough 35ct stone. In 2010, the Kazanjian red diamond was on display in the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems at the American Museum of Natural History before being purchased by Kazanjian Bros. Inc.

The Moussaieff Red Diamond

Discovered by a Brazilian farmer in the 1990s, the Moussaieff Red, otherwise known as 'Red Shield' is an internally flawless, triangular brilliant-cut fancy diamond famous for its 5.11 carat weight. This iconic diamond remains one of the largest red diamond discoveries in the world to date.

The Edcora Red

This pear-cut fancy red brown diamond, weighing in at 5.71 carats is known as the 'lost stone' due to vanishing from the public eye into the collection of a private investor. Whilst there have been no identified photographs of this red diamond, its existence has been well-documented in writing.

The DeYoung Red Diamond

The DeYoung red diamond is a rare 5.03 carat unmounted diamond purchased by a Boston jewellery seller at a flea market. Sydney DeYoung initially mistook the stone for a garnet but, upon noticing its high quality, had it laboratory tested to reveal its true identity as a red diamond. After his death in 1986, the DeYoung red diamond was given to the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural Gem and Mineral Collection where it remains on public display.   

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image 2017 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender hero diamonds from Rio Tintos Argyle Diamond mine. ©Rio Tinto.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

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Magnificent 51ct Dynasty Diamond Unveiled by Russian Mining Giant

Russian diamond mining company, Alrosa, has unveiled the extraordinary centrepiece to its unique Dynasty collection of five diamonds, the Dynasty Diamond.

This 51.38 carat round brilliant-cut diamond has been rated Triple Excellent, D colour and VVS1 (very, very slightly included) - a clarity grading that signifies inclusions visible at 10x magnification through the pavilion of the diamond. 

All five diamonds in the Dynasty Collection, totalling 76.22 carats, were cut from a 179 carat rough diamond known as 'Romanovs'. This particular treasure was unearthed from the Nyurbinskaya kimberlite pipe in the Republic of Sakhaat, north east Russia, back in 2015. According to Alrosa President, Sergey Ivanov, the Dynasty Collection took around 18-months to complete. 


 Showcasing the 51.38 D colour, VVS1 calrity diamond called "The Dynasty". Image: ©OJSC ALROSA

All five of the unique Russian diamond collection. Image: ©OJSC ALROSA

The names given to each individual diamond in the Dynasty collection pay homage to the familial dynasties that shaped the development of Russian jewellery. This is particularly fitting for Alrosa and its mission statement to "revive the traditions and memory of renowned Russian jewellers famous for their craftsmanship and filigree". 

The names Romanovs and Dynasty Diamond were chosen to celebrate the craftsmanship of 18th century Russian artisans under the reign of Tsar Peter the Great of the House of Romanov.


Left: The five diamonds of 'The Dynasty Collection' created from the 179-carat 'Romanovs' rough diamond. Right: Close up of the brilliant round-cut 'Sheremetevs' diamond. Images: ©OJSC ALROSA

Director of Diamonds ALROSA commented, "The creation of The Dynasty was of great importance. This stone gives a start to a new stage in the development of ALROSA’s cutting division that will actively develop polishing of extra-large and coloured diamonds. The Dynasty demonstrated that we can do it at the highest level. We work a lot on the technique, combine modern technologies with the secrets of jewellers of the Russian Imperial Court. And we expect that the revival of their traditions will be a worthy contribution to the promotion of the Russian jewellery stones’ brand in the global market."

The other diamonds in the Dynasty collection:

The Orlovs: A 5.05 carat oval diamond

The Vorontsovs: A 1.73 carat pear-cut diamond

The Sheremetevs: The second largest round brilliant round-cut diamond in the collection at 16.67-carats.

The Yusupovs: A 1.39 carat oval-shaped diamond.


The 16.67 carat round brilliant Sheremetevs diamond, the second largest stone in the collection. Image: ©OJSC ALROSA


The Orlovs: A 5.05 carat oval diamond. Image: ©OJSC ALROSA


The Vorontsovs, a 1.73 carat pear-shaped diamond. Image: ©OJSC ALROSA


The Yusupovs, a 1.39 carat oval-shaped diamond. Image: ©OJSC ALROSA

The entire collection is scheduled to be sold at a special online auction taking place this November 2017.

For further information on the diamonds and their history, videos and photos as well information about the auction is available here: dynasty.alrosa.ru

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image: The five diamonds of the Dynasty Collection created from the 179 carat 'Romanovs' rough diamond. ©OJSC ALROSA


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


 

Additional Info

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Portrait of a Diamond

Painter Angie Crabtree has built a reputation as one of the most sought-after diamond artists, literally recreating every sparkling facet in incredible detail. Here, she shares her passion for painting gemstones (and the occasional watch movement) with Gems&Jewellery...

With the job title 'Diamond Portrait Artist', Angie Crabtree has turned the facets of diamonds and gemstones into a thriving career. Her up-close-and-personal diamond paintings are flying off their easels, while Angie herself is in hot-demand for in-person event appearances and brand collaborations. Here Gems&Jewellery gets to the bottom of her fascinating career in the world of fine jewellery and precious gems...

What is your background and how did you begin painting diamonds?

My background is in art. I have been painting since I was four years old. I went to an arts high school and graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009. I also attended the School of the Art Institute Chicago and the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. I painted my first diamond - at 1.5m tall - in 2013 for a luxury-themed gallery exhibition in San Francisco. Having known very little about diamond at the time, I began researching and found out that diamonds come in different cuts. This is where my continuous series of diamonds began!

What is it about diamond that has held your attention for so long?

Painting diamond portraits is meditative. I love learning about each one, and I love the abstract patterns and geometry. It's hypnotising! The symmetry, rainbow accents and reflections are so alluring. Every diamond is unique and presents a new challenge.

 How do people react to your work and how has this led to collaborations and commissions?

When I do live painting at special events, it is a great conversation starter. A handful of companies have commissioned me to paint their special stones, and invited me to paint at their event. Having a stone painted is a great way to show people the details in an up-close and personal way.

Where do you see your paintings progressing - will you be moving into coloured gemstones?

Absolutely yes! I recently started a series of fancy coloured diamonds behind-the-scenes, which I will be releasing sometime in the next year. Eventually, I will work my way to other gemstones and I really cannot wait. Recently I started painting close-ups of very detailed and unique timepieces. They are a new challenge, so I am excited to do more.

What can you tell us about the process of painting a diamond? Do you think people presume it is easier than it appears?

There is a lot that goes into the process that people cannot see just from looking at my Instagram account. Choosing the diamond, having it photographed, drawing the diamond, building the canvas, prepping the canvas, mixing the paint, base coats, layering, glazing, and weeks of drying time between coats. Even the photography is a big step; capturing the essence of my paintings - the exact colours and details - is no easy task.

Why do you think people are so enamoured with your diamond portraits?

I think people are initially interested in my work because diamonds are luxurious, but when they see them as painted works of art they become mesmerised in a new way. At least that is what drew me into the idea of painting them. Originally, I was interested in exploring ideas of luxury through art, but after researching diamonds and gemmology, the whole series went in a new direction: it became more about getting lost in the abstract patterns, facets, reflections and colours - similar to how I fee; when I look into a kaleidoscope.

Are there any particular pieces you are most proud of?

My favourite piece is the painting I did of my engagement ring diamond. It is of an elongated emerald-cut that I picked out from my friends at Perpetuum Jewels in San Francisco. When I was searching for the perfect diamond, I knew it would eventually become a painting, so that is why I chose this one: I wanted to have a panoramic piece to hang in our home. It is the only piece I will never sell. I recently began selling phone cases printed with the diamond because, why not?! It is the perfect proportions!

What would be your advice to amateur artists who want to give painting diamonds and gemstones a try?

My advice would be to focus on not just the symmetry of the design, but also balancing of the colours and contrast. Mix all your colours from scratch so that they are in their purest form. Quality materials are important too.

All images ©Angie Crabtree.

Gem-A members can log in to read the full article Gems&Jewellery Autumn 2017 / Volume 26 / No. 3

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image: Angie Crabtree with a selection of her diamond paintings. All images ©Angie Crabtree.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


 

Additional Info

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Graff Diamonds buys 1,109ct Lesedi La Rona Diamond for $53m

The second largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered has been sold privately to Graff Diamonds for a staggering $53 million. 

First unearthed by the Lucara Diamond Corporation in the Karowe mine in Botswana, the Type IIa Lesedi La Rona diamond weighs in at 1,109 carats. It was initially put up for auction in June 2016, but after failing to reach its pre-sale estimate of $70m, stalling at $61m, the diamond was hidden away. 

Graff has a long-running reputation for buying big diamonds, including a 373 carat rough believed to be a fragment of the Lesedi La Rona in May 2017. The price was a cool $17.5m. 

Read more: Magnificent 51ct Dynasty Diamond Unveiled by Russian Mining Giant

The Karowe mine is also where the 813 carat Constellation diamond was uncovered in 2015. This particular diamond holds the record as being the world's most expensive, having been sold for $63m to a Dubai-based company. It is now in the hands of de Grisogono founder, Fawaz Gruosi, who is transforming the rough into as-yet-undisclosed masterpieces. 


Whilst the Lesedi La Rona diamond failed to sell at auction, it has now been privately sold to Graff Diamonds for $53m. ©Graff Diamonds


The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona is the second largest diamond in the world. ©2017 Lucara Diamond Corp.

Commenting on the purchase, Graff Diamonds founder and chairman, Laurence Graff, commented: "We are thrilled and honoured to become the new custodians of this incredible diamond. The stone will tell us its story, it will dictate how it wants to be cut, and we will take the upmost care to respect its exceptional properties. This is a momentous day in my career, and I am privileged to be given the opportunity to honour the magnificent natural beauty of Lesedi La Rona."


A model holds the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona. ©2017 Lucara Diamond Corp.

Lucara president and CEO, William Lamb, called the discovery of the stone a "company-defining event". He noted: "We took our time to find a buyer who would take the diamond through its next stage of evolution. Graff Diamonds is now the owner of the Lesedi La Rona as well as the 373-carat diamond... We are excited to follow these diamonds through the next stage of their journey."

High jewellery aficionados will now have to wait patiently to see what Graff Diamonds does with this incredible rough. 

Read more: Extraordinary emerald valued at $309 million is unearthed in Brazil

For further information and photos of the Lesedi La Rona visit lucaradiamond.com
Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.
If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image: The 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona diamond sold to Graff Diamonds. ©2017 Lucara Diamond Corp.


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


 

Additional Info

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Speaker in the Spotlight: Q&A with Adonis Pouroulis

Adonis Pouroulis, Non-Executive Chairman of Petra Diamonds is an expert entrepreneur in the exploration and mining of natural sources from diamonds to base metals across Africa. As a leading independent diamond mining company, Petra is a key supplier of some of the most culturally significant stones, involving the sorting, mining, processing and sale of rough diamonds.

Gem-A caught up with Adonis ahead of his presentation at the Gem-A Conference 2017, exploring the exquisite beauty of diamonds and the growing socio-economic developments in gemstone mining...

Q. As one of our key speakers at this year’s Gem-A Conference, what will be the main area of focus for your presentation?

I will be examining what makes diamonds so special and prized above all other gems. In addition to their exquisite beauty, their scarcity and their unique physical qualities, diamonds also “do good”, with the industry contributing significantly to GDP, welfare and socio-economic development. This is what makes diamonds perfectly suited to be the ultimate representation of eternal love and commitment.

Q. What one word would you use to best describe yourself and your company vision?

Unbreakable (indeed the word ‘diamond’ is taken from the ancient Greek word αδάμας (adámas) meaning ‘unbreakable’).


The Blue Moon of Josephine, discovered at Petra’s Cullinan mine in 2014, sold for over US$4 million per carat, representing a world record price per carat for any diamond. ©Petra Diamonds Limited

Q. Why did you choose to work in the field of diamonds and why is a sustainable future important to you?

Mining is in my blood as it is a family business, but diamonds have a special hold over me beyond all other commodities. As gemmologists well know, no two stones are alike and we at Petra have managed to put together a portfolio of mines that produces some of the most spectacular diamonds ever seen, including very large white diamonds, as well as fancy yellows, pinks and blues. As with all mining businesses, it is a tough industry which requires a clear vision, steadfast resolve and a lot of hard work, but the prize is worth it as we have high quality assets which are being set up to produce consistently for many decades to come. Finally, I see with my own eyes the great benefits that mining diamonds sustainably brings to our employees and local communities in South Africa and Tanzania, and this is very important to me.

Q. What message would you like attendees of your talk to walk away with?

That companies such as Petra are mining diamonds in a highly sustainable and ethical manner, and in so doing we are offering vital socio-economic development opportunities to diamond mining communities around the world.


Underground at Cullinan in South Africa – Petra is breathing new life into its assets through its capital expansion programmes. ©Petra Diamonds Limited

  • ‘How diamonds can unleash opportunities for sustainable development’ by Adonis Pouroulis will take place Saturday 4 November 2017 at 09:50 - 10:45

  • To purchase your tickets to the Gem-A Conference 2017 and full listings of the programme, please visit the official website here.

 

Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops

If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership

Cover image  Adonis Pouroulis with The Blue Moon of Josephine diamond in the background. ©Petra Diamonds Limited


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


Additional Info

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Alrosa Extracts Its Largest Fancy-Coloured Diamond of 2017

A magnificent yellow diamond weighing in at a remarkable 34.17 carats has been extracted by ALROSA's affiliate, Almazy Anabara, making it the largest fancy-coloured rough diamond discovered by the company this year.

Discovered at the Ebelyakh alluvial deposit in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the rough diamond, measuring 20.17 x 19.65 x 15.1mm is a transparent and vivid yellow crystal with a small inclusions categorised in the intermediate zone.

Given that Almazy Anabara had already this year, extracted the largest pink stone in ALROSA's history - the unique 27.85 carat pure pink diamond - this newest discovery means that ALROSA has hit an all-time record in the number of fancy-coloured diamonds unearthed at its division for 2017.

Read more: Magnificent 51ct Dynasty Diamond Unveiled by Russian Mining Giant


The 34.17-carat yellow diamond is the largest fancy-colored rough stone Alrosa has recovered this year. © OJSC ALROSA

In the official ALROSA press release, director of the United Selling Organization ALROSA Evgeny Agureev commented,

"This year for ALROSA has already hit the record in the number of large fancy-colored stones. We used to extract fancy-colored rough diamonds over 10 carats once a year on the average. This year, we have already recovered several large fancy-colored diamonds, and this 34.17 carat yellow stone is the largest one by far. The Company's specialists are still to study the stone more in detail, but we can say in advance that it is fancy vivid yellow, which is very rare and highly valued. The stone will become a worthy addition to our collection of large rare-colored diamonds that we are forming and will bring to the market."

Read more: Extraordinary emerald valued at $309 million is unearthed in Brazil

For further information and photos of ALROSA's newest discovery visit eng.alrosa.ru
Interested in finding out more about gemmology? Sign-up to one of Gem-A's courses or workshops.
If you would like to subscribe to Gems&Jewellery and The Journal of Gemmology please visit Membership.

Cover image: The rough diamond, measuring 20.17 x 19.65 x 15.1mm is a transparent and vivid yellow crystal © OJSC ALROSA


Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Dr Herbert Smith - Innovator, Inventor, Gem-A President

Gem-A’s Heritage Series returns to explore the legacy of Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith CBE, Gem-A President 1942-53, whose determination to make gemmology accessible to the jewellery trade still defines Gem-A today.

Read more


 

Additional Info

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