In plush, quiet rooms in selected locations across the world, you can just about make out the hushed whispers of diamond enthusiasts as they quote millions for some of the rarest gems ever found, often anonymously over the phone. Auctions of rare, natural diamonds are meticulously planned events involving unbridled passion, obscenely huge sums of money and racing pulses carefully veiled in a shroud of studied patience and elite company. At stake here are spectacular stones unearthed once in a few billion years, valued for their weight, shape, colour and history and sought after by collectors who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the exclusive pieces.
Each year witnesses record-breaking sales as the demand for rarity rises and a penchant for investment diamonds increases. There are stones, such as the ‘Princie Diamond’ and ‘The Blue’ that have gone down in history for fetching millions. Some have never appeared at auctions, such as the ‘most famous diamond in the world’ – the 45.52-carat ‘Hope Diamond’ – a deep blue gem dating back to the 17th century that is worth $350 million and was bequeathed to the Smithsonian Institute by Harry Winston in 1958. A handful of less fortunate ones find no takers, such as the Lesedi la Rona. But, this brief spell of lull can’t withstand the force that the diamond market is reckoned with.
Christie’s and Sotheby’s, who dominate the auction market worldwide, recorded an estimated $1.2 billion in gem and jewellery sales between them for the year 2015-2016. Other auction houses that sold significant gems include Bonham’s of London and Tiancheng International in Hong Kong, adding $70-$80 million to the total. While the total is slightly down from the last year, a fact that Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s, Asia-Pacific, admits, it seems like the market showed great interest in rare, top-quality stones with very high prices.
Here’s a lowdown on the mind-bogglingly expensive diamonds (polished and rough) that went under the hammer in 2015-2016.
The Perfect Diamond. Photo: Instagram @champagnegem
Recently, one of our customers shared with us his epic proposal story – a story so deliciously sweet – that we were compelled to share it with you all as he had documented the most important part of the proposal in a video for all to view on YouTube.
How does the idea of an 18-course dinner paired with vintage wines and a 2.08-carat Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ring as a take-home gift sound like? For diamond aficionados with $2 million to spare, this must be mouth-wateringly inviting. World of Diamonds, a Russian diamond mining company which had unveiled its Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ring to the world earlier this year, is offering the lavish experience to those with a fine taste in living. The eight-hour retreat will include journey by air, land and sea to reach Ce’ La Vi, in Singapore, 10,000 fresh roses, an 18-course dinner, 44- and 55-year-old wines and a 2.08-carat Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ring which is estimated at $2 million by World of Diamonds (Blue diamonds of Fancy Vivid saturation sell for approximately $1 million per carat at auction). The only catch here is that just two people will get to indulge in this feast of a lifetime.
“This is the most expensive dining experience in the world, and the most lavish one possible,” Karan Tilani, Head of Asia, World of Diamonds, was quoted as saying by Forbes. “As a diamond mining group, we recognise that Ce’ La Vi is a diamond in the sky. [We expect] the response will be beyond overwhelming, but it’s only two diners who will eventually have the privilege.”
The Jane Seymour ring that has a 2.08-carat Fancy Vivid Blue diamond. Instagram: @worldofdiamonds
While last weekend saw most people reeling under the intense heat-wave, it certainly brought a happy flush to Pippa Middleton’s face, one that refuses to ebb. The author and party planner has been sporting a sparkling Asscher since her beau, hedge fund millionaire James Matthews, popped the question over the weekend. Experts say that the centre diamond appears to be a 4 carat Asscher cut set in an octagonal halo ring and is estimated at £200,000. Surrounded by round brilliant cut diamonds, the Asscher cut is set in white gold or platinum and is inspired by the theme of Art Deco, though its bezel fit adds a touch of modernity. No wonder then that Pippa, the younger sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, had it on even while walking her dog or going for a jog!
Pippa is seen wearing her massive Asscher cut engagement ring. Instagram: @practicalgemologist
Investing in diamonds might be a luxury that entices few, but those with an insurmountable penchant for the brilliant stones wouldn’t be able to pass up the opportunity to indulge in a start-to-finish tour of where they come from. In a unique and one-of-its-kind endeavour, Ellerman House of Cape Town, South Africa, has taken luxury travel to a whole new level. The hotel, an epitome of extravagance in the continent, has teamed with Benguela Diamonds to offer a diamond safari for up to six guests staying at their premises.
The exclusive package includes private airfare and road transportation to the diamond diving site, unmatched food and beverage that features the hotel’s signature ‘Dom Perignon Experience’ and first-hand learning of the source of diamonds. It is purported to be a one-day trip that starts with a limousine pick-up from the Ellerman House for an early morning private charter flight from Cape Town to Port Nolloth. An hour-and-fifteen-minutes-long journey later, guests will be served breakfast and drinks and presented with the day’s itinerary.
Benguela’s expert sorting team teaches guests about the grading of diamonds. Image Courtesy of www.ellerman.co.za
The diamond which has made not only headlines but history as the largest diamond discovered in more than a century, failed to sell at Sotheby’s London, despite a $70m estimate. Unearthed in Botswana in November last year by Lucara Diamond Corp., the 1,109 carat rough diamond known as Lesedi La Rona, which means Our Light in the Tswana language of Botswana, is the second largest diamond ever discovered. At the auction held on 29 June, the final bid came in at $61m – far under the reserve price – failing to secure the stone. During the last few minutes of the auction, the head of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division, David Bennett tried to solicit a higher bid without success.
Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s
Given that it is the second largest rough of gem quality ever to be found (The Cullinan was the largest), and its smaller cousin, the Constellation from the same mine in Botswana sold in May 2016 for $63m, this diamond, which is 36% bigger than the Constellation, should have far exceeded the Constellation’s per carat price of $77.6k, reaching at least $86m to match, explains77Diamonds.commanaging director Tobias Kormind. “Perhaps diamond cutters have assessed the rough and aren’t convinced they can get a large enough single diamond out of it to make it worth a higher price.”
“Yet this contradicts pre-auction rumours that the rough is likely to yield a 400+ct D Flawless diamond, which would be the largest purest diamond in existence and likely to fetch in excess of $200m (larger than the current record holder – The Centenary Diamond, a 273ct Heart Shaped D Flawless stone),” he clarifies.
So, the world is left wondering what will happen to the diamond now: “Lucara will need to wait and then go back to the diamond polishers to try to sell it privately. The format of a public auction will probably not be used any time soon to sell another large rough. The market may have reached a tipping point and demand for large rare stones might just be saturated or the market instability with Brexit may have just caused this to be a case of bad timing.” Whatever may come of the diamond, one cannot deny the finding has been historical and fascinating to follow.
Oh to be a part of the elite Brit model pack…their hair is permanently sleek and polished, their skin is as dewy as a child’s and their Amazonian lithe limbs are undeniably envy-inducing.
It’s not just their natural beauty that catches our attention. More than ever, models are continuously being praised for their slick ‘off-duty’ style. As if they didn’t look good enough on the runways, they’ve nailed street style too and of course; jewellery plays a vital part in giving their outfits that star quality finishing touch.
Whether it’s strolling around Portobello Market on a sunny afternoon or posing up a storm in the latest Burberry campaign, Suki Waterhouse continues to blow us away with her effortlessly chic looks. We particularly love the below pairing of delicate hoops with huge, Jackie O-inspired sunglasses. Try our stunning Iris earrings in yellow gold with these unique and rather fabulous D&G sunnies – while dramatic, they are the ideal accessory to add some glamour to a classic white chiffon dress, perfect for making a statement on your own ‘off-duty’ days – think Sunday brunch at The Ivy Chelsea Garden or a crisp glass of rosé at The River Café.
The Summer season is a time for festivals, BBQs, Pimms, garden parties and of course, weddings! Nobody wants to have to get married in the pouring rain, despite how delightfully British it seemed in Richard Curtis’s latest flick About Time. We suspect the reality of reading one’s vows in the midst of a gushing torrent might be somewhat less charming. So, your calendars are bound to be packed full of weddings over the next few months, all of which will have been timed to ensure that the sun is shining.
This lovely weather gives way to a plethora of wonderful venues – all of which require specific attire and of course, a specific piece of sparkling jewellery to match. Here are our recommendations to ensure you are the most stylish wedding guest this Summer (without upstaging the bride of course!).
The Country House Wedding
Nothing exudes romance quite like the stunning English countryside. Unsurprisingly then, more and more of us are forgoing exotic trips abroad and embracing the local land we have been blessed with in the UK. With luxury country hotels popping up all over, curated by some of the best interior designers in the world, countryside weddings are more decadent than ever.
Such decadence demands elegance of the highest form, so why not pair our stunning Lumiere earrings in white gold with your gown of choice. We love the diamond drop look paired with a simple pastel coloured knee length dress like the one below from Coast. The off-the-shoulder look is incredibly flattering and will give your ears a chance to shine. Plus, the pale pink shade will go perfectly with the gorgeous flowers you will be surrounded by (countryside weddings tend to make the most of the outdoors, so the likelihood is that you’ll be sitting in a beautiful flower garden) as you try your best to hold back the tears.
Ideal Location: Think Soho House’s Sommerset hideaway Babington House or the decadent yet traditional Chewton Glen in New Forest.
The Lesedi La Rona is not just another massive rock – it is historical. A discovery of a lifetime, the 1109ct stone is the largest diamond found in over a century and the second largest diamond ever unearthed. Approximately 2.5 to 3 billion plus years old, the rough diamond, about the size of a tennis ball, will be up for auction at Sotheby’s London on 29 June.
The “light” of Botswana (Lesedi La Rona means “Our Light” in the Tswana language spoken in Botswana), measuring approximately 66.4 x 55 x 42 mm, was unearthed at the Karowe mine in Botswana by the Lucara Diamond Corp. in November 2015. The rough diamond, which is said to be of exceptional transparency and quality, is estimated to fetch about $70 million at the forthcoming auction. Continue reading →
You may know the lovely Becky from her site Diamonds in the Library. Becky describes herself as ‘a lady with a love for literature and shiny things’, as an English literature grad with an excessive diamond addiction, it felt only right for me (also an English literature grad) to find out a little more about her love of all things bejewelled.