Thursday, October 14, 2010

507.55 Carat Diamond Found At Cullinan Mine

507.55 carat Petra Diamond
A 507.55-carat white diamond was recovered September 24 at the Cullinan diamond mine in South Africa.  Initial review of the diamond indicated it has exceptionally white color and high clarity.  The diamond is currently undergoing expert analysis to document color and clarity grading and to determine if the diamond is Type II (lacking yellow producing trace elements). 
507.55 carat Petra Diamonds Four Gems
The diamond was discovered with three other large diamonds with similar high color and clarity weighing 168.00 carats, 58.50 carats, and 53.30 carats.
507.55 carat Petra Diamond Johan Dippenaar
Johan Dippenaar, Petra’s Chief Executive Officer noted, “The Cullinan mine has again given the world a spectacularly beautiful and important diamond.  Initial indications are that it is of exceptional color and clarity, which suggest extraordinary potential for its polished yield.  We now eagerly await the findings of the expert analysis.”
The Cullinan mine is best known as the source of the world’s largest gem diamond ever discovered, which was discovered in 1905, named the “Cullinan,” and weighed 3,106 carats rough.  Other famous diamonds sourced at the Cullinan mine include the Golden Jubilee (755 carats rough), the De Beers Centenary (599 carats rough), the Niarchos (426 carats rough), and the Premier Rose (353 carats rough).  Cullinan was also the source for some of the world’s largest polished diamonds including the Golden Jubilee (545 carats polished), the Great Star of Africa (530 carats polished), and the famous Taylor-Burton diamond (69 carats polished).
7.03 Blue Diamond from Cullinan Mine
Petra Diamonds Cullinan Consortium who purchased the mine from De Beers in 2007 owns the Cullinan mine.  The Cullinan mine is also the world’s primary source of blue diamonds.  In May 2009, a fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 7.03 carats (cut from 26.58 carat rough) from the Cullinan mine sold for $9.4 million, the highest price ever paid for a gemstone sold at auction.

Big Diamonds Bring Big Dollars

While the tough economic times have affected the average diamond shopper, the extremely wealthy shoppers are on a buying spree.  At Christie’s jewelry action October 21 in New York, it was as if the recession never happened.
Arnenbergdiamond460An anonymous buyer purchased a 32.01-carat D color, Internally Flawless, type IIa Asscher cut diamond ring for $7.7, which was almost double the $3 million to $5 million pre-auction estimated value.  At $240,000 per carat, the sale set a new world record for a colorless diamond.
Annenberg 32.01 carat diamond The Annenberg Diamond’s previously owner was Leonore “Lee” Anneberg, who died in March at the age of 91.  She was the US Chief of protocol in the Reagan administration and was the wife of billionaire publisher Walter Annenberg, who died in 2002.
A 16.33-carat round diamond with E color and Flawless clarity was purchased for $1.6 million ($97,000 per carat) by a private Asian dealer.  Other items that sold for more than preliminary estimates included belle époque diamond and rock crystal bow brooch by Cartier (sold for $1.1 million, estimate $200,000 to $300,000) and a Harry Winston emerald and diamond necklace (sold for $950,500, estimate $500,000 to $700,000).
Other big dollar items sold at the auction included a pair of pear pendants with a 7.18-carat Fancy-Blue pear-shaped diamond and an 8.04-carat Fancy Light Pink colored pear-shaped diamond, which sold for $1,426,500.  A pair of earrings featuring D color, Internally Flawless pear-shaped diamonds (7.51 carats and 8.18 carats) sold for $1,202,500.

Marisa Miller in Victoria Secret’s $3 Million Diamond Bra

Marisa-miller-fantasy-bra The showpiece of this year’s Victoria Secret’s annual Fashion Show will be the Harlequin Fantasy Bra, worn by supermodel Marisa Miller.  The bra, created by Italian jewelry house Damiani, contains 2,300 white, Champagne and Cognac colored diamonds with a 16 carat heart-shaped brown-yellow diamond pendant dangling in the front.  Taking over 800 hours to make and with 150 total carat weight of diamonds, the gold framework and hand-set diamonds are fashioned in a harlequin pattern.
Marisa Miller was on the cover of the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, is a model for Victoria’s Secret, and is an ambassador for the American Cancer Society.
The fashion show will be televised by CBS on Tuesday December 1 at 10:00 PM ET/PT.

Check out last year’s fantasy bra blog article:

Magnificent Colored Diamond Sale

2.52 carat green diamond Sotheby’s “Magnificent Jewels” sale in Geneva November 17 was a high dollar success for colored diamonds and other colored gemstones but the highlight of the show was a green diamond ring.
Only a few natural green diamonds have been auctioned in recent decades and most of those had bluish or yellowish secondary color, which pointed to the importance of the sale of a 2.52-carat Fancy Vivid green color Cushion Modified Brilliant Cut diamond.  The rare diamond was claw-set in a platinum mounting with yellow gold head.
The cushion modified brilliant cut diamond was graded Fancy Vivid Green color, VS1 clarity, depth 63.9%, table 58%, measurements 8.80 x 7.35 x 4.70 mm, ratio 1.20, Excellent polish, Very Good symmetry, Faint fluorescence, and was laser inscribed “GIA 2106213537.”  While not the highest priced item at the auction, the $3.08 million sale set a world-record for price per carat for a green diamond at auction.
3.17 intense blue diamond Other colored diamonds sales made history too.  A 3.17-carat Fancy Intense blue diamond sold for $2.52 million and set a new world-record for price per carat for an Intense Blue diamond at auction.  The round brilliant cut diamond was set in a simple four-prong platinum mounting.  The natural Fancy Intense blue colored diamond has VVS2 clarity.
Roxburghe Rubies Set The Roxburghe Rubies, a necklace and earring set, sold for $5.77 million, five times the estimated price before the auction.  The necklace contains 24 cushion shaped rubies and 24 cushion-cut diamonds and the set dates back to the late 19th century.  The necklace was the property of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe and is thought to have been purchased from Garrards by the 5th Earl of Rosebery, as recorded in one of his diary entries.  The necklace is accompanied by its original turquoise velvet fitted case, embellished with the monogram R under a coronet, by R&S Garrard & Co, Goldsmith and Jewellers to The Crown, as well as by the original hand-written documentation detailing the weights of the stones.

Crater of Diamonds State Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas continues to be the source of diamonds for the public who have a keen eye and are willing to do a little digging.  Every year, heavy machinery is used to uncover new material in the park’s 37 1/2 –acre diamond search area where park visitors can keep the diamonds they discover.  On average, over two diamonds a day are found by visitors to the park.
The last 12 months have been productive for diamond seekers and the following stories highlight some of those “shiny” discoveries.
Crater of Diamonds 4.68 Richard Burke Richard Burke and his wife, Carol, of Flint, Michigan had read about Crater of Diamonds State Park in a geology book and seen a feature about the park on The Travel Channel.  Crater of Diamonds 4.68 white The couple had been visiting Colorado panning for gold and fossil hunting when they decided to make the two day drive to Arkansas to try their searching skills on diamonds.  On September 30, 2008, Richard was searching a shallow ravine when he discovered a 4.68-carat white diamond that looks like a frosted ice cube.  He named the diamond the “Sweet Caroline” after his wife Carol and their favorite song, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Crater of Diamonds 2.09 Rhonda Bankston On November 16, 2008, Rhonda Bankston of Baton Rouge, Louisiana was camping at the park and had decided to try her hand at diamond searching.  She had seen a segment about Crater of Diamonds State Park on the Travel Channel’s “The Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures” and was intrigued enough to try it.  On her second day of searching, she found a 2.09-carat white diamond that she later had faceted to a 1.04-carat cushion cut shape.  Crater of Diamonds 2.09 white Rhonda named her diamond “Dream Angel,” which is appropriate for a gem with exceptional white color and high clarity.  Crater of Diamonds had yielded many high quality diamonds and the most famous was the 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond found in 1990 that was ultimately cut to a 1.09-carat D color, Flawless clarity, and Ideal cut diamond, which is the highest quality possible when it was graded by the American Gem Society Laboratory.
Crater of Diamonds 2.04 Glenn Glenn Worthington has visited Crater of Diamonds State Park for 30 years and has found many diamonds, written a book about the park, and produced a DVD demonstrating how to find diamonds at the park.  Crater of Diamonds 2.04 canary On April 9, 2009, Glenn was searching for diamonds by dumping buckets of mud over a screen.  He had decided to process one last bucket before the Easter weekend when he discovered his largest diamond.  The 2.04-carat diamond has a bright yellow color and has a smooth, lustrous surface and an elongated shape.  Glenn named his special find “Easter Sunrise” because of its appearance and the timing of his find.
Crater of Diamonds 5.75 brown On April 28, 2009, Mike Burns of Arab, Alabama, discovered a 5.75-carat white diamond.  Mike had traveled to Colorado with a good friend to look for gold but the property owner was not available where they wanted to search.  Prior to the trip, Mike’s wife, Linda, had mentioned she would like a diamond for their 20th anniversary and she repeated that comment on the phone when he called from Colorado.  She suggested he should get to Crater of Diamonds State Park so he could find a diamond for her.  Mike did go to the park and while walking along a wet creek bank spotted a shiny object.  After confirming his find was a white diamond, he named his gem “Arabian Knight” in recognition of his hometown high school football team.  Time will only tell if Linda gets her anniversary diamond.
Crater of Diamonds 2.35 Stephen Carter On May 13, 2009, Stephen Carter of Hot Springs, Arkansas discovered a 2.35-carat white diamond.  As Stephen was leaving the search area at about 6:00 pm, he noticed the sparkling white stone sitting on top of a mound of dirt alongside the furrows in the field.  Crater of Diamonds 2.35 The angle of the sun and his Billy’s vigilant eyes resulted in the special find.  Stephen and his wife had been experiencing tough financial times.  They had watched TV news coverage of a woman who found a diamond at the Crater of Diamonds.  The Carters thought that finding a diamond might be the answer to their financial troubles so they prayed for several weeks and made the trip to Crater of Diamonds.  On their fifth trip to the park, Carters said “Our prayers were answered” and they appropriately named the diamond “Faith.”
Crater of Diamonds 2.93 brown On October 20, 2009, Royce Walker of Lockesburg, Arkansas was operating a bulldozer for a contractor trenching the Crater of Diamonds State Park search area.  As he walked across the search area to give his son, Bobby, a lunch break he spotted something shiny in the dirt.  He picked up what turned out to be a 2.93-carat, dark honey brown colored diamond about the size of a pinto bean.  The diamond is shiny on one side and metallic looking on the other side with a broken edge indicating it was probably part of a larger diamond crystal at one time.
Crater of Diamonds 3.20 Billy Moore On October 30, 2009, Billy Moore of Murfreesboro, Arkansas found a 3.20-carat white color diamond with a rounded shape.  Billy named the gem “The Frosty” because of its rounded, white appearance.  Billy is a frequent visitor at Crater of Diamonds State Park.  While he has found approximately 400 diamonds in the park during his years of searching but the 3.20-carat is by far his largest find.

Vivid Pink Diamond Sells for $10.8 Million

5.00 vivid pink ring-4 Colored diamonds have been making headlines this year and that was the case again at the Christie’s Jewels: The Hong Kong Sale December 1.  A rare, 5-carat Fancy Vivid Pink cushion shaped diamond ring sold for $10.8 million, setting a new record for total price for a pink diamond sold at auction and a new record for price-per-carat at auction.
The pink cushion-cut diamond was set in a platinum and 18-karat rose gold mounting designed by famous jewelers Graff Diamonds with a pair of matched white shield-shaped diamonds.  The pink color is a rich bubblegum hue with even saturation, seldom seen in natural pink colored diamonds.  The pink diamond is also a rare type IIa diamond and the high price reflects not only its exceptional beauty, but also its extreme rarity.
5.00 vivid pink ring-5 Purchased by a private Asian buyer, the exceptional diamond sold for almost double its pre-auction estimated value.  The diamond was strategically auctioned in Hong Kong because China’s retail market is recovering faster than American and European markets.  The Asian market for high-end, big-ticket collectible goods is very aggressive due in part to the optimism of the financial markets in that area.

Global Economic Slowdown Impacts Diamond Industry

Diamonds2_download Diamond prices, like most commodity and luxury items had been climbing for years.  Large diamond prices in particular have been sky rocketing the past five years due to the imbalance of supply and demand.  This year alone, diamond prices were up about 16 percent.  However, the global forecasts and now the reality of economic slowdown, are taking their toll on the demand for diamonds.
After seeing the prices of large diamonds begin to fall, the world’s largest producers of diamonds (De Beers and Russia’s ZAO ALROSA) have announced they will cut supplies of rough gems to support prices.
The sight-holders who purchase diamonds from De Beers have requested the supply of diamonds be reduced at the final two “sights” scheduled in November and December.  ALROSA has said they will reduce rough diamond supplies as much as 30 percent.
The reduction of rough diamond supply is an effort to keep the price of diamonds steady and thus encourage continued exploration and mining efforts.  A sudden, short-term drop in diamond prices would play havoc with the capital-intensive diamond mining industry, causing some business to stop exploration and mining efforts.  Then when the economy recovers and the demand for diamonds gets back on its fast track, the supply side would lag the demand side of the industry and cause sharp price increases.  De Beers and ALROSA are acting as a moderating agent for diamond prices.
The plummeting stock market and severe credit crisis have caused the confidence of luxury buyers in the United States to drop to its lowest level in four years.  Stock prices of luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co have dropped as much as 40 percent this year in anticipation of reduced diamond sales.
Consumers will continue to purchase diamonds as engagements, anniversaries and special occasions continue in good and bad economic times.  However, even the wealthy shoppers are being more discriminate about their purchases and shopping for values.

Diamond Industry Copes with Crisis

The past 12 months have been witnessed many forms of economic crisis and the diamond industry was no exception.  In past decades when demand for diamonds dropped, De Beers simply stockpiled diamonds to keep supplies and therefore prices stable.  However, in recent years the European Union has forbidden monopolistic activities (like stockpiling) and De Beers now only controls 40% of the diamond market compared to over 80% a few years ago so no longer has full control over diamond production.  As a result, the diamond industry had to implement new strategies to cope with the economic crisis.
The industry’s main tool was stopping production of diamonds.  De Beer’s mines in Botswana, Canada, and Namibia were mostly shut down with only about 10% production in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same time in 2008.  While production is slowly being brought back online, some companies like Harry Winston Diamond Corporation has decided to cancel winter production at their Diavik Diamond Mine in Canada after a summer shutdown and production returning in the fall.
Rio Tinto shut down its Argyle diamond mine in Australia during the first quarter of this year resulting in a production drop for the country of almost 90%.
Alrosa, the Russian diamond producer, continued to produce diamonds but protected prices by having the Russian government purchase and stockpile the diamonds.
Even with the cuts in production, the dramatic drop in demand results in global polished diamond prices dropping 15.7% from August 2008 to August 2009.  Most of that drop occurred in the November to February period with prices being stable since May.
The past year produced the largest drop in diamond demand in more than 50 years with the most visible fall out being the weekly reports of bankruptcies in the retail and manufacturing sectors of the diamond industry.  Retailers in particular simply could not cut enough costs to compensate for the lack of sales.  Retailers and wholesalers who had made money by leveraging purchases of diamonds as the prices were going up suddenly saw their credit lines cut and interest rates rise at the same time their inventories lost 15% or more in value.
What can the diamond industry expect in the months ahead?  With the US economy slowly coming out of the recession and demand continuing to grow in China and India, demand should become more stable and head back up.  At the same time, many of the large diamond mines are moving from open pit to underground production, which will lower production levels.  The economic crisis has also delayed opening of any new mines so global production of diamonds will soon be outpaced by supply again, which means diamond prices will soon return to their historic 3 to 4 percent annual inflation trends.  However, the that price inflation will likely see considerably short term fluctuations as the industry continues to react to the more chaotic global financial times.

Diamond Market Update

Diamonds2_download We have many clients who want to buy a big diamond but have been waiting until the price bottom out due to the recession.  For months, I have been telling them this is the bottom and they can expect to see polished diamond prices moving up shortly.
I am not the only one with this belief.  Yesterday, Robert Gannicott, CEO of Harry Winston Diamonds noted that rough diamond prices have improved by at least 61% from the prices at the lowest part of the market, during the first quarter of this year.  Harry Winston owns part of the Diavik diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories in addition to its high-end jewelry stores.  Even with the dramatic increase from the low, rough diamond prices in the quarter ended October 31 were about 9% lower than the same period in 2008 and 13% below the highs in the summer of 2008.
What is remarkable about the increase in rough diamond prices is that polish diamond prices have been flat for most of the year.  Most diamond mines closed for months at the start of 2009 and this allowed the excess rough and polished diamonds in the pipeline to be sold until demand was more aligned with supply.
The mines have been producing for months and the cutters are back in operation.  The demand for polished diamonds for the Far East and India is on the upswing and the US holiday season is in full swing.  In the months ahead, demand is expected to match and exceed supply, implying rough and polish prices will be moving up in the near term.

Diamond Prices Head Up Again

Up arrow-red Retail diamond prices in the second half of 2008 experienced one of the largest decreases in decades and followed by relatively no price changes up or down in 2009.  However, rough diamond prices in 2009 were up by about 15% and they have increased that much already in 2010.  As a result, there is significant pressure on polished diamond prices to move upward.
With the U.S. economy beginning to recover and the U.S. consumers typically purchasing about half the world’s diamonds and diamond jewelry, retail prices are moving upward.  The economies of other diamond-consuming countries are also showing signs of recovery so the global demand for polished diamonds is expected to rise in 2010.
At the end of January 2010, there was an industry wide price increase for diamonds over 3.0 carat weight with price increases ranging from 1.5% to 3.5% depending on carat weight, color and clarity.  In mid-February, another industry wide price increase occurred for round diamonds in the 1.00 to 1.99 carat range with at least H color and VS2 clarity and had increases in the 1.0% to 5.0% range depending on carat weight, color, and clarity.
It is only a matter of time before we see price increases for fancy (everything but round) shaped diamonds under 3.0 carats and for round diamonds in the 2.0 to 2.99 carat weight range.
These early year increases will not be the last increases as projections are for polished diamond prices to rise by double-digits for 2010.  For diamond shoppers, this means that the best prices are going to be had now rather than later this year or in the foreseeable future.  Of course, the lesson we have learned in the past two years is that projections for global economies are anything but certain.