Queen of Color Diamonds

Where fascination and education about Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds meet

Month: August, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor’s Van Cleef & Arpels Yellow Diamond Daisy Necklace Set

I am on a serious accessories kick lately, particularly chunky necklaces so when I saw this bright and cheerful necklace chock full of colored diamonds, you know I had to blog about it.

This Van Cleef & Arpels daisy brooch, clip earrings and necklace in white diamonds, colored diamonds and chrysoprase belonged to the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor.  She had originally borrowed the set from Van Cleef & Arpels to go with a yellow Valentino dress.  Apparently when Elizabeth Taylor returned home from wearing it out she proclaimed this her good-luck necklace and bought it.

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The Guildhall Blue

Because of my job I get to look at a variety of natural fancy colored diamonds.  Most of the diamonds I have looked at are truly beautiful.  We pride ourselves on only selling the best of the best so it has to pass a variety of our criteria before we will purchase it.

Unfortunately, now and then a dud will cross my path. Because colored diamonds are so rare, when a poorly cut diamond is presented to me it can be disappointing to say the least.  I want to love them all but sometimes they just don’t make the grade (pun sort of intended).  In most cases though, it is a true treat to loupe a diamond and see the color, the brilliance , the fire and the unique beauty in the stones. And then there are the times when a diamond exceeds my expectations and is truly astounding and for some strange reason the image of the diamond stays with me many hours, even days after looking at it.  (Occupational hazard I suppose.)

For me, it is “The Guildhall Blue”.

This diamond is a 1.06 Carat Natural Fancy Vivid Blue Internally Flawless Radiant Cut diamond.   The reason I am writing about it here is because I was offsite looking at it the other day and it keeps popping into my head.  Perhaps it was the astounding brilliance, the hypnotic patterns of light and dark when gently rocked back and forth, the intensity in which the spectral colors danced or was it knowing that I was looking at a blue diamond, something so rare and valuable?  I suppose it was all of this combined, and like most natural wonders, it is a little awe inspiring and just has an inexplicable effect on a person!

According to both the GIA Grading Report and Independent Appraisal this stone does not contain underlying hues, nor does it have any fluorescence and the color is evenly distributed.  Blue diamonds tend to include grey or brown hues but this diamond is pure, like diving into the most beautiful, pristine, clear blue glistening ocean. Ok, that was a bit cheesy but sometimes when I get so excited about diamond color it does get difficult to express without sounding sort of corny or way too analytical for most people to handle.  The cut of the diamond, being a radiant maximizes the blue color which is even throughout the stone.  Generally speaking, the more saturated the hue in a blue diamond, the rarer and therefore the more valuable it will be.  As a matter of fact, statistics show that less than 0.3% of all colored diamonds graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in the first half of 1998 were predominantly blue. I am told that this statistic has not varied much since then.

This particular diamond comes from my father’s private collection but he has put it on our website in case the right buyer comes along – and then he may part with it.  He has had it appraised a few times and it has gone up quite a bit in the last year alone.  The latest appraisal which is the replacement value came in at $1.5 million.  The appraiser we use tends to be on the conservative side with appraisals, but I think it’s better than being over-inflated.  For more details about the stone, including the price, you can look at it here.

While I’m sure the image of the diamond will fade from my mind over the next few days only to be replaced by something new.  I wonder what can possibly top this one?

So where do blue diamonds get their color from?

When boron, hydrogen or nitrogen particles get trapped in a diamond’s crystal lattice during formation it will turn blue or to be more specific variations of blue, from teal, to ice blue, to grey blue to pure blue.  The higher the quantity of boron impurities found in a diamond’s lattice structure, the more saturated or intense the blue color in the diamond will be.

Type IIb diamonds account for approximately 0.1% of all Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds,  holding minute amounts of nitrogen and significant levels of boron impurities.

Green-blue or greenish blue (think teal) colored diamonds typically contain nitrogen impurities in aggregate form. The degree of color returned to the eye is dependent on the amount of nitrogen included in the stone.

Some blue diamonds include the presence of hydrogen impurities. These type Ia diamonds are  generally classified with a color modifier and predominantly referred to in gemological grading reports as gray-violet or gray-blue.

How are Blue Diamonds Graded?

The diamond industry uses the universal GIA Color Grades with a worded description of  the actual hue (the color) i.e. Purplish Blue in order to keep colors consistent and easily understood because my interpretation of sky blue may be different to yours.  This cuts out any confusion.

The GIA uses nine categories to grade colored diamonds which are:  Faint Blue diamond, Very Light Blue diamond, Light Blue diamond, Fancy Light Blue diamond, Fancy Blue diamond, Fancy Intense Blue diamond, Fancy Vivid Blue diamond, Fancy Dark Blue diamond and Fancy Deep Blue diamond.

Where Did “The Guildhall Blue” Name Come From?:

Just in case you might be wondering why I’m calling this stone “The Guildhall Blue” it’s because we have 2 blue diamonds posted on our website and people inquiring about this particular stone started referring to it as “Your Guildhall Blue” to differentiate it so the name sort of found its way into our hearts.

What is the “ish” in Colored Diamonds All About?

So we know that diamonds come in a rainbow of colors:  red, blue, green, purple, pink, yellow etc.  These colors are officially referred to as hues.  Why then are Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds referred to as yellowish green or brownish pink?  This is because there is usually a primary color or hue in a diamond, and then there may be an underlying color/hue which is where the “ish” part comes into play.  Argyle Pink diamonds for instance, are often purplish pink or orangey pink.  Therefore the main color (hue) is pink, but the underlying hues in these examples are purple and orange.

Now, here’s where it gets slightly more complicated.  If you see on a GIA Grading Report multiple words to describe the color and there is no “ish” it will mean that two colors are considered to be equally visible in the stone.  An example might be Blue Green or Purple Pink.

The Rainbow Collection

The Rainbow Collection consists of 300 rare natural fancy colored diamonds. The collection has three natural red diamonds, two of which weigh more than one carat. The total weight of the diamonds is more than 340. The Rainbow Collection is the world’s most famous and unique diamond collection and it has been exhibited 47 times worldwide. The collection is insured for US $60 million dollars (as of 2011 it is valued at over $100 million).

The item below was reported in January 2011 but I find the collection and the history of it so interesting that I wanted to share it…

Antwerp gem dealer and diamond consultant Eddy Elzas says he has no comment “yet” regarding media reports that he is planning to part with a well-known set of coloured diamonds known as the Rainbow Collection.

Reports said that billionaires from Saudi Arabia were interested in buying the set of diamonds for the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Elzas said he was invited to Jeddah last November with the Rainbow Collection, but he did no go.

The gems are estimated to be worth significantly more than $100 million.

Elzas said that he was asked by De Beers in 1981 to have talks with representatives of King Khalid of Saudi Arabia about selling him the collection so that he could present it to Prince William’s parents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as a wedding gift, but he turned the Saudis down.

“At that time, the diamond industry was in a poor state, and the price of diamonds had dropped dramatically,” Elzas told Antwerp Facets. “De Beers asked me to help get diamonds back on the front pages of newspapers by meeting with King Khalid of Saudi Arabia about selling the collection so it could serve as Charles and Diana’s wedding gift.

“I met the Saudis in London in Charterhouse Street for negotiations. The king had to promise to give the collection to the royal couple as a wedding gift and had to be exhibited in the tower of London so that the public could view them. At the time, it was enough for me just to have received the request to sell the collection. That gave me great satisfaction.”

Elzas, who is about to turn 69, said he started putting the collection together 40 years ago and that it features 300 natural fancy coloured diamonds – round brilliants, pear shapes, marquises, emerald cuts, triangles and other shapes – weighing approximately 350 carats.

“The collection was first displayed in Antwerp in 1979, and in 1980-1981 it went on exhibition at the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco museum of natural history,” he said. “So far, the collection has been exhibited 49 times all over the world. It has matured over the years as I have improved the quality and size of the gems.

“I consider myself as someone who has brought knowledge about coloured diamonds to the world. I have given hundreds of lectures on coloured diamonds over the years. I am now a diamond consultant for very wealthy clients regarding large, luxury diamonds in the range of 50-100 carats.

“Would I sell the Rainbow Collection now? Well, I obviously won’t be buried with the diamonds. It would give me great pleasure to be able to look after my family, children and grandchildren by selling the collection. I probably would be tempted to sell the collection at some point,” said Elzas.

What’s Better, a Pink or Yellow Diamond?

People often ask me what is better.. a small pink diamond or a larger yellow when it comes to an investment.  I don’t think it’s as simple as this.  Here’s why…

  

You know how in real estate it’s all about location, location, location?  Well it’s sort of the same thing with Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds in that it’s all about the color, color, color.  The hue, intensity, evenness of color and actual color grade (Fancy, Intense, Vivid) dictates the value of a stone.  After color, one needs to examine clarity grades. Obviously the higher the clarity, the more valuable.  Of course, some colors like orange, red, blue and green are so rare and in demand by coveted collectors and investors that they tend to trump the other value factors.

Cut is extremely important too because if the diamond is not cut well then it simply cannot shine and twinkle in all it’s glory.  Did you know that certain cuts can maximize the color of a diamond?  Often you will see a lot of radiant and cushion cut colored diamonds.  This is because the cut maximizes the color of the stone the best allowing it to get a deeper and more saturated color.  So you can see how cut is very important.  And then there is the carat weight.  If you have a decent size stone then it will hold and increase in value a lot more than a chip for instance.  Pink diamonds are usually a lower carat size so this is an exception to the rule!

With colorless diamonds there is usually 1 value factor of the 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat) that stands out for most people.  For instance, some people don’t really care about the clarity grade and are more concerned with carat weight.  Others may want a perfect cut and are less interested in the color grade and don’t mind a K color stone for instance.  I’m personally a clarity girl. It’s the perfectionist in me and this sometimes gets in the way when I’m grading a colored stone because while I know color is the most important value factor, if I see an inclusion I get a little fixated on it.  I can’t help it, they bug me.  Some people actually love inclusions because it makes the stone different/unique for them and they know that it’s just one of nature’s birthmarks.  (Luckily we only sell IF Yellows and VVS/VS Pinks at work or else I would be distracted and irritated by the inclusions.)

Pink diamonds are rarer than Yellow diamonds but this is where personal opinion plays a large role.  I’ve seen this over and over at work where clients will come in ready to buy a pink stone for example and then the yellows call out to them because they are so much larger or more saturated.  I love all colors but I’m a girly girl and I have a special place in my heart for pink stones, all pinks, any pinks.  They are my faves.  I just think it’s very personal.  When in comes to an investment stone my very best advice is this.  Look for a diamond with a strong, saturated, even color, high clarity grade (Flawless to Internally Flawless for Yellows, Blues and Greens and VVS, VS for Pinks and Reds), decent carat weight for the color and a good cut, and you purchase it at a good price and keep it safe for many years there is no doubt you will do well down the road.

I almost forgot, the most important value factors of all…. a colored diamond whether it yellow, pink or any other color it must be beautiful, it must catch the light in a way that astonishes you and it must make you smile!  When you see that stone, hold on to it because that will be the one!

Related Posts:  GIA Color Grading Scale

Yellow Diamond Earrings

I’m always on the lookout for really different ways to use colored diamonds.  Yellow Diamonds in particular seem to make such beautiful earrings.  I’ll take them both!  Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?

If you see something you would like to share, feel free to put your pictures in the comments!

U.S. Marshals to Auction 15 Carat Yellow Diamond

The U.S. Marshals Service is conducting a live and Web simulcast auction to sell 255 lots of fine jewelry, watches and gold coins in San Antonio Saturday August 18th.  The items being sold were seized from federal court cases nationwide and are now forfeited to the government. The U.S. Marshals Service consolidates pieces from cases nationwide and holds a large auction several times a year. Proceeds generated from the auctions are used to compensate victims of crimes and supplement law enforcement programs.

Of course, what interests me is the platinum ring with a 15 ct. fancy yellow diamond which is valued up to $180,000.

The value of $180,000 seems extremely low for a 15 carat diamond!  I am certain that the clarity grading must be fairly low. SI2?   Perhaps the stone is a Fancy and the setting has been designed to maximize the color because it just seems low.

Either way, the auction starts at 10 a.m. CDT at the Adrian Spears Judicial Training Center, and the Web simulcast is at www.txauction.com.

Eager to see what the winning bid comes in at and if they describe the stone in more detail!  Stay tuned for the results…

Are engagement rings an investment?

A friend of mine recently found an article where a jeweler had been disputing the notion that engagement rings can be considered investments.  He went on to say that engagement rings are sort of a waste of money altogether.  Knowing how passionate I am about diamonds, my friend encouraged me to rebute his claims because she knows that I consider Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds to be considered a luxury asset.

I decided not to dispute his article for a few reasons. First of all I think that everyone has a right to their opinion. I prefer to express my thoughts and opinions here in my blog because it is a place I created just for me. Secondly, this guy  seemed somewhat angry.  Do I need to be the person to get him more worked up?  Uh, not really.  Thirdly, not a lot of people understand the ins and outs of hard asset investments and what factors make up an “investment grade diamond”.  And last but not least there seem to be different camps in the diamond industry when it comes to labelling diamonds as investments.  One sector of diamontaires look at diamonds  in a puritan way in terms of their inherent beauty and believe that the value they offer is and should be of beauty and emotions generated from giving and receiving diamond jewelry.  They believe that by turning diamonds into a commodity if you will, that they lose their special place in the world.  The other camp believes that diamonds of the highest clarity, color (think D color grade for colorless diamonds) cut and carat weight are very beautiful, rare and therefore valuable which is why they go up in price and can be considered an investment.  Note, there are also some real scummy folks out there who will sell diamonds, rubies and emeralds that are poor clarity, color, cut and carat weight just to make a buck.  Often these stones will not come with a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Grading Report.  These are the guys that unfortunately give a bad rap to the word “investment” and spoil things for people who do know what they’re doing when selling investment grade diamonds.  Then there are the diamond dealers that share the vision of the puritans but also recognize and appreciate that some diamonds are rarer than others (reds, blues, yellows, pinks etc.) and that in that combination of rarity and beauty illicit demand and therefore a higher monetary value.  Their businesses are built on providing the utmost in quality and value for their customers who also understand that the rare diamonds are a valuable asset.

So, the question of this man’s article was “Are Engagement Diamonds Considered An Investment?”.

My opinion?

I actually agree with the author/jeweler.  Why?  Because this guy made no mention of colored diamonds at all and seemed to focus on white diamonds.  He didn’t even  mention D color graded diamonds which if are Flawless with a significant carat weight can be and are considered an investment.  Unfortunately white diamonds otherwise referred to as colorless will not really go up in value that much, can certainly fluctuate in price and are more of a personal, emotional investment than anything else.  If however, we are talking about Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds in the highest color, clarity, cut and carat weight – this is absolutely considered a luxury asset and a true investment.

I have personally done a lot of research on this topic and can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that Natural Fancy Colored Diamonds are increasing on average 12-30% per year.  Colored diamonds have never dropped in value since record keeping began almost 40 years ago and are smashing auction records globally.  At work I have personally seen our own clients who bought stones a few years ago already making money on their stones.  Why?  Rarity and demand are the predominant factors.  Investors are seeking alternate ways to protect and grow their wealth and luxury assets such as art, collectibles and diamonds are a safe and lucrative investment compared to traditional markets such as real estate and stocks.

To the author’s position that engagement rings are sort of a marketed retail item and are a “lie”.  Ask any woman and they will agree that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend“.  Yes more and more women are opting to showcase their creativity and personality and going with colored diamonds or gemstones, but we still want the ring. It makes us happy.  To us, it does show us you care and love us and are committing fully.  And what’s wrong with a little tradition?  And hey, no one said our boyfriend’s had to or should go broke buying us an engagement ring.  Whether it’s colorless diamonds that will increase in value slightly (maybe by way of  natural inflation), or a Natural Fancy Colored Diamond that will increase in value over time… not everyone is that concerned and make no qualms about it….we want the wedding ring!

 

Getting Loupey with My Triplet Hawk

Most people have a certain possession that they cherish or that makes them feel special.  For me, it’s my Swiss Axe Triplet Hawk Diamond Loupe.

My father, boss and mentor bought me this loupe as a gift when I was in the midst of studying for my GIA Diamond Grading program.  Not only is it the best loupe on the market with optical performance and beautiful ergonomic design, but more importantly my father bought it for me which is one of the reasons I treasure it so much.  I know my father needs me to have the best tools for grading the stones our company purchases and sells but knowing my father the way I do, I know it was also his way of telling me how proud he was of me for taking the GIA certification in order to excel in the family business. When the loupe arrived from Antwerp my father said I should take it with me to New York for the GIA lab class and so I did just that.

Sitting in my lab class for 5 days straight I wore my loupe around my neck like a badge of honor.  I felt a sort of pride that I owned it, maybe it was my inner loupe snob that made me feel different knowing that I had a state of the art, 2009 IF Product Design Awarded apparatus that no one else in the class had. I felt so professional and in the know with this really cool loupe…like I had arrived or something. The irony is with limited lab time I had to utilize every second on grading diamonds, not caring for my loupe and making sure it was either folded down as not to scratch the lens, that I was wearing it around my neck and didn’t leave it lying around, or that it was tucked away in it’s tin case and/or in my purse every time I left the lab for fear of it walking away I barely used it.  All my attention had to be on learning and grading diamonds.  I actually ended up using the lab microscope most of the time once I finally got the hang of it which was by day 3 and the loupes provided on the tables just for expedience.

However, when my teacher checked my grading worksheet against an included stone and needed a loupe, I proudly gave him mine.  Of course I wanted him to experience the magic of the Triplet Hawk and the promise Swiss Axe makes that “you will be looking at diamonds with the sharp focus of a hawkeye“.  When I saw the expression of “wow” when my teacher looked into the stone and then looked down at the loupe in his hand while I waited eagerly for my results I did I felt like I was the cool kid in the class.  And thankfully I did a pretty good job on the grading too!

Now a regular $10 jewelers loupe does the trick when examining and grading diamonds, but what I love about this loupe in particular is that it almost seems like there is a little light inside the loupe allowing you to see into the diamond in a way that is almost hypnotic.  The 10x triplet lens, corrected for chromatic and spherical aberration (aplanatic, achromatic) and specially coated for anti-reflection and maximum depth of view and clarity is seriously best in class.   I enjoy the experience of this loupe each time I use it and how it allows me to see the magic inside of each diamond.

So if you are looking for a 10x jeweler’s loupe, I obviously recommend the Triplet Hawk because I truly love it – and of course, the special person who gave it to me!

 

The Swiss Axe Triplet Hawk Loupe retails for $449.00 USD

Barbie Doll Adorned in Argyle Pink Diamond

Meet the world’s most expensive Barbie.

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My daughter is invited to a Barbie themed Birthday party this weekend where they are encouraged to bring their favorite Barbie and naturally I would like to find a nice, somewhat unusual Barbie Doll to give as a present. I’ve been to a few toy stores on the hunt for a perfect yet affordable Barbie Doll to give as a gift and I’ve been seeing a lot of couture adorned dolls which led me to do a little search online. Wow, was I amazed when I found the Canturi Barbie wearing a beautiful custom designed Argyle Pink diamond necklace which sold at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Event in October of 2010 for $302,500. Here’s the scoop…

In 2010, to celebrate the Barbie Basics Collection-a line of urban socialite dolls, each with a different hairstyle and skintone and wearing her own unique Little Black Dress-Mattel commissioned this stunning doll with accessories by renowned jewelry designer Stefan Canturi.

The necklace features 3 carats of white diamonds arranged in a Cubist style and surrounding a rare pink diamond from Australia’s Argyle mine. The centerpiece is emerald cut and weighs in at 1 carat. A ring adorned with another diamond decorates Barbie’s right hand. In 2010 Mattel sent their bejewelled Barbie on a whirlwind tour to London, Geneva and Hong Kong and then she returned to New York for Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction where the distinctive, purplish-pink diamond – a highly collectible, registered tendered stone from the Australian Argyle mine – was the drawcard. It sold for $302,500! The auctioneer, Christie’s in New York, said: “The modified square-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond transcends this exceptional Barbie into a historical investment piece.”

I’m amazed at how precise and beautiful Canturi’s Argyle Pink Diamond design is. This Barbie is surely one of a kind.

Getting back to the Barbie Party, it turns out that we are going on a last-minute get away and my daughter can’t make the party after all! However, I’m sure a modest Barbie will show up on the birthday’s girl door as a thank you for the invite!