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Thursday, April 19, 2018


I was reading the morning paper yesterday and noticed a full-page ad about colored diamonds:

I'm not into precious gems, but I love colors.  There remains on the books my company, Rainbow Pearls, International.  Anyone interested, let me know.

But starting with colored diamonds, they fill the rainbow spectrum, including black, with yellow tending to reduce value and the rarest being red.  The Aurora Pyramid of Hope is a collection of 296 diamonds (267.45 carats) of various colors, privately owned, but now on display at the Natural History Museum of London.

Impurities and structural anomalies determine the color:
  • clear:  no impurities
  • yellow:  nitrogen
  • orange:  nitrogen
  • blue:  boron
  • black:  graphite or sulfides
  • green:  no mineral impurity, distortion of crystal lattice by natural radiation
  • red:  no special element, created by intense heat and pressure that distort the crystal lattice, resulting in green light being absorbed--the rarest of them all (to the right, the Moussaieff Red Diamond)
  • purple:  hydrogen--never saw one of these

Diamond, of course, is carbon.  Other gems:
  • ruby:  aluminum oxide with chromium impurity
    • gift for the month of July, which is when Pearl was born, making this her favorite gem
    • found in primarily Myanmar (Burma), but most of Southeast Asia, Madagascar, India/Pakistan and even the USA
    • the most valuable is the Sunrise Ruby:
      • named after a poem written by 13th century Sufi poet Rumi
      • 25.59 carats
      • sold for $30.42 million in 2015
  • emerald:  
    • mineral beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6) 
    • trace amounts of chromium and, sometimes, vanadium
    • originally found in Egypt, and now mostly Columbia and Zambia..and U.S.
    • the Bahia Emerald (right) from Brazil is around 180,000 carats in its rock host 
    • most expensive/carat is the Rockefeller Emerald, 18.05 carats and purchased by Harry Winston for $5.5 million last year
    • A 23.46 carat emerald and diamond Bulgari pendant once belonging to Elizabeth Taylor was bought for $6.5 million in 2000.

The Centenary Diamond was unearthed in South Africa by De Beers in 1986 and announced in 1988 at their 100th-year anniversary.  Initially at 600 carats, the final cut had 273 carats and 247 facets with a $100 million insurance policy.

No one will confirm who now owns it and what it is worth, but the person who cut this diamond, Gabi Tolkowsky (right), hinted that in 2008 his masterpiece was bought by an 18-year old Israeli-British entrepreneur who now lives in the USA.  Anyone know of a very rich 28-year old mysterian who now and then wears this diamond?  Audrey Hepburn has been said to have worn this stone, but the photos below are that of the Tiffany Yellow Diamond.  She might have had breakfast there, but did not wear any of their jewelry in the film.

Two years ago, the Oppenheimer Blue, a 14.6 carat blue diamond, sold for $57.5 million.  However, some diamonds are just not for sale:
  • Koh-I-Noor, meaning "Mountain of Light", is a 105.6 carat diamond, largest known, from India.  Owned by the British crown and kept in HM Tower of London.  Unfortunately, the original weight was 793 carats, and this diamond has through time been re-cut at least twice.  Value:  priceless.

There is, of course, a lot of history to this stone:

When Nader (Shah, Iranian ruler, right) invaded Delhi in 1739, the ensuing carnage cost tens of thousands of lives and the depletion of the treasury. Nader left the city accompanied by so much gold and so many gems that the looted treasure required 700 elephants, 4,000 camels and 12,000 horses to pull it (and you thought all that fanfare in Aladdin was Disney-ized embellishment). Nader took the Peacock Throne as part of his treasure, but removed the Timur Ruby and the Koh-i-Noor diamond to wear on an armband.

However, this stone could well be another symbolic example of colonial looting, and quoting from Wikipedia:
Today, the diamond is on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London, where it is seen by millions of visitors each year. The governments of India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan have all claimed rightful ownership of the Koh-i-Noor and demanded its return ever since India gained independence from the UK in 1947. The British government insists the gem was obtained legally under the terms of the Last Treaty of Lahore and has rejected the claims.
  • The Sancy Diamond, 55.23 carat, pale yellow, belonged to the Great Moguls and kept in the Louvre.  Priceless.
  • Cullinan I, 530.2 carats, second largest diamond, found in South Africa:  $400 million.
  • The only famous diamond I have seen is the Hope Diamond, since 1958 displayed in the Smithsonian Institution.  Should this heirloom be returned?  To whom?
    • Reportedly, cursed.
    • A French merchant, Jean-Baptiste Tavervier (right), stole the 115.16 carat blue diamond from the eye of a holy Hindu statue.  Here is where the curse began.
    • Another story, which probably is the more accurate, is that Tavernier  purchased the diamond from Kollur Mine in Golconda, India.
    • Tavernier sold it to King Louis XIV of France in 1668.
    • In 1749 the stone was recut into 67 carats, and was reset, appropriately enough, for the Order of the Golden Fleece.
    • During the French Revolution, the jewel was "again" stolen.
    • It was briefly in the possession of England's King George IV.
    • In 1839, the French Blue (name at that time) became owned by British financier and gem collector Henry Philip Hope (right) and became  the Hope Diamond.
    • After a series of re-sells, in 1909 Pierre Cartier purchased it and sold it to Evalyn Walsch McLean of Washington, D.C.
    • She had it reset twice and today is a pendant necklace.
    • In 1949 Harry Winston purchased McLean's collection, put them on a world tour and, possibly to rid himself of any curse, donated it to the Smithsonian Institution.
    • In 1974 it was reweighed at 45.52 carats.
    • The Hope Diamond could well the be the most famous rock star today:

Oh, oh, the French want the Hope Diamond back.  Maybe it is cursed.  India doesn't seem to be involved at this time, for their focus is on the Koh-I-Noor.  Which of the two is the more expensive?  Perhaps the Koh-I-Noor.  Here is a short clip of other famous, and colorful, gemstones.


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