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The Diamond Awards 2016

The Diamond Awards 2016

The Constellation Diamond - A 812.77ct whopper and winner of two awards.Image courtesy of de GRISOGONO

Welcome to The Diamond Awards 2016! Here we will be celebrating the biggest and the best results for diamond auctions this past year.

Just when one thinks diamonds couldn’t possibly get more expensive, BAM! Another record-breaking price has been paid for the chance to own one of Mother Nature’s most rare and beautiful occurrences.

To celebrate the New Year, let us revisit a few of the spectacular stones from 2016 that hit international headlines and made their way into the history books for their remarkable colours, shapes and sizes. 

And the award goes to…

The Constellation


The Constellation Diamond - image courtesy of de GRISOGONO

Highest Price Paid for a Rough Gemstone at Auction
Highest Price per Carat Ever Obtained for Rough Diamond at Auction

Rough Weight: 812.77ct
Price per carat: $77,647

Discovered in the Karowe Mine, Botswana in November 2015, The Constellation weighed a whopping 812.77ct.

This was among a hat-trick of large diamonds for the Karowe mine, whose owner, the Lucara Diamond Corporation, also found the 1109ct Lesedi la Rona and an unnamed 374ct colourless diamond in the span of three days – a mere 72 hours!  Quite a weeks work.

The Constellation was purchased for $63.1million on May 9th 2016 by the jewellery house de GRISOGONO; winning the title of the highest price per carat ever paid for a rough diamond.  De GRISOGONO is releasing The Diamond Story this week to celebrate the journey of this amazing stone from the mine to the red carpet.

This diamond is a D colour Type IIa with brilliant transparency and clarity (although the final clarity can not be confirmed until the stone has been cut).
The final fashioned stone is to be revealed this year. Could it potentially become a new record-breaker for cut stones in 2017? Watch this space.

Lesedi la Rona


The Lesedi la Rona - image courtesy of Sotheby's

Second Largest Rough Gem-Quality Diamond Ever Found
Largest Rough Gem-Quality Diamond Found This Century

Rough Weight: 1109ct

The 1109ct Lesedi la Rona is the second largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found. Discovered in November 2015 in the Karowe Mine, this record-breaker was up for auction in Sotheby’s London on the 29th of June 2016. 

The Lesedi la Rona is surpassed in size only by the Cullinan Diamond weighing in at 3106.75ct in the rough, which was found in 1905 at the Cullinan Mine (formerly Premier Mine). 

Many thought the Lesedi la Rona would quickly steal the title of the Highest Price Paid for Gemstone. Despite amazing marketing, it failed to reach its $70 million reserve and although the bids grew to $61 million, the stone did not sell. 

The Lesedi la Rona did not even reach the same monetary bid of The Constellation, even though it was the same colour, comparative clarity and weighed nearly 300ct more. 

Translated as ‘Our Light’ from the Tswana language, one certainly has hope for what the future will hold for this stone. We are confident that it will find a new home and look forward to seeing it re-emerge as a record-breaking cut stone (or two).

DeBeers Millennium Jewel 4


The DeBeers Millennium Jewel 4 - image courtesy of Sotheby's

Most expensive diamond sold in Hong Kong at Auction
Weight and Cut Style: 10.10ct Oval Brilliant
Price Sold: $32 million

Kicking off the sales of the fancy coloured blues was the 10.10ct Fancy Vivid Blue DeBeers Millennium Jewel 4. 

This diamond was part of the Millennium Jewels Collection: a collection consisting of 11 fancy blue diamonds and the colourless 203.40ct Millennium Star. The collection was famously the target for an unsuccessful heist at the Millennium Dome in November 2000. This heist is the subject of a fabulous documentary named Diamond Geezers on Netflix if you would like to learn more about it! 

This Internally Flawless oval brilliant sold for $32 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on the 5th April 2016, realising an impressive $3.17 million per carat.

The Oppenheimer Blue


The Oppenheimer Blue - image courtesy of Christie's

Largest Fancy Vivid Blue Cut Diamond
Highest Price Ever Paid for a Cut Gemstone at Auction

Weight and Cut Style: 14.62ct Rectangular Emerald Cut
Price Sold: $57.54 million

The Oppenheimer Blue came to auction at Christie’s, Geneva on the 18th May 2016. There was a buzz of excitement around this sale as this diamond belonged to the late Sir William Oppenheimer, whose family owned DeBeers up until 2012. To learn more about the history of this stone, please see Out of the Blue.

This diamond smashed estimates of $38-$45 million and obtained a massive $57.54 million at auction – a whopping $3.93 million per carat. This is the most money that has ever been paid for a cut gemstone.

This diamond stole these awards from The Blue Moon; a Fancy Vivid blue cushion cut 12.03ct Internally Flawless diamond, which sold for $48.46 million in Sotheby’s, Geneva, just 6 months earlier in November 11th 2015. 

The current owner, Joseph Lau, has renamed the diamond The Blue Moon of Josephine after his daughter. This diamond still holds the title for highest price paid per carat – a staggering $4 million per carat. 

The Cullinan Dream


The Cullinan Dream - image courtesy of Christie's

Most Expensive Fancy Intense Blue Diamond at Auction
Weight and Cut Style: 24.16ct Rectangular Mixed-Cut
Price Sold: $25.4 million

Found in the famous Cullinan Mine in 2014 at 122.52ct, the Cullinan Dream was the largest of four diamonds cut from the rough piece. 

This diamond sold at Christie’s, New York on June 9th 2016 for $25.4 million, taking the new title as the world’s most expensive Fancy Intense Blue diamond – just one colour grade away from the elite ‘Fancy Vivid’ grade. 

The Unique Pink


The Unique Pink - image courtesy of Sotheby's

Largest Fancy Vivid Pink Pear-Shaped Diamond
Highest Price Paid for a Fancy Vivid Pink Diamond at Auction

Weight and Cut Style: 15.38ct Pear Brilliant
Price Sold: $31.56 million

The Unique Pink entered the record books on the 17th of May when it was sold at Sothebys, Geneva for $31.56 million. This 15.38ct VVS2 pear brilliant is the most expensive Fancy Pink Diamond ever to be sold at auction.

The previous winner was the Sweet Josephine: a 16.08ct Fancy Vivid Pink VVS2 cushion brilliant diamond which, again, was purchased by Joseph Lau for $28.5 million on November 10th 2015 from Christie’s, Geneva just one day before he bought the Blue Moon of Josephine. Cha-ching.


The 59.60ct Pink Star (also known as the Steinmetz Pink) is the largest Fancy Vivid Pink diamond currently known to exist in the world. 

This diamond could potentially have held records for the most expensive Fancy Vivid Pink diamond and the most expensive gemstone ever sold, however the buyer defaulted on the $83.17 million payment after its sale in Sotheby’s Geneva in 2013, and as far as we know to this day the diamond remains unsold.

The Aurora Green Diamond 


The Aurora Green Diamond - image courtesy of Christie's

Worlds Largest Fancy Vivid Green Diamond Ever Sold at Auction
Weight and Cut Style: 5.03ct Rectangular Mixed-Cut
Price Sold: $16.8 million

The Aurora Green is the largest Fancy Vivid Green diamond ever sold at auction. At 5.03ct, this rectangular brilliant sold at Christie’s, Hong Kong for $16.8 million on the 31st May 2016.

Green hues are extremely rare amongst the diamond trade. This is due to their cause of colour, which is irradiation. Most radioactive sources only penetrate the crystal ‘skin deep’ and therefore many ‘green’ diamonds lose their colouration once they are polished. Green colouration all the way through a diamond is rare as a powerful radiation source is required.

Only one Fancy Vivid Green diamond has been on sale in the last decade, which was a 2.54 VS1 diamond sold at Sotheby’s, Geneva in November 2009. This sold for $3.08 million – $1.22 million per carat.

The Graff Venus


The Graff Venus - image courtesy of Graff Diamonds

Worlds Largest D Flawless Heart Shape
Rough Weight: 357ct
Cut Weight and Style: 118.78ct Heart Brilliant

On November 1st 2016 the Graff Venus was unveiled to the world. Cut from a 357ct rough found in the Letseng Mine in Lethoso, this diamond yielded a beautiful Heart-Shaped diamond and 22 satellite stones. 

According to sources, the ‘cleft’ in the centre of the diamond has been fashioned deeper than is usual for traditional heart-shaped brilliants as the cutters wanted to remove a tiny flaw so as to obtain the coveted ‘Flawless’ clarity grade. It has gained an excellent symmetry and polished grade from the GIA and is a beautiful scintillating stone.

This stone is yet to be offered on the market. However, it may become part of Graff’s collection of Famous Diamonds, which includes the 35.56ct Wittlesbach Graff. This historic blue diamond once held the title for the Highest Price Ever Paid for a diamond at auction when it was purchased in 2008 for $23.4 million. (A bargain in comparison to today’s sale prices).

The Argyle Violet


The Argyle Violet - image courtesy of Rio Tinto

Largest Gem Quality Violet Diamond Ever Found
Rough Weight: 9.17ct 
Cut Weight and Style: 2.83ct Oval Brilliant
Colour: Fancy Deep Greyish Bluish Violet

This 2.83ct diamond is exceptionally rare and is the largest of its kind by far. Its colour is particularly vivid and has been graded as ‘Fancy Deep Greyish Bluish Purple’ by GIA, the overtones of which add to this stone’s beauty and rarity.
The Argyle Violet was the centrepiece of the annual Argyle Mine Diamonds Tender and was purchased by the New York company LJ West Diamonds for an undisclosed sum. 

Estimates before the auction expected the Argyle Violet to sell for over £2 million per carat. Even though this diamond is arguably smaller than some of the other diamonds in this post, violet diamonds are not often found in cut sizes above 0.25ct. According to Rio Tinto, in the last 32 years, only 12cts of polished violet diamonds have been recovered from this mine.

To help summarise their rarity, Mr West, founder of LJ West Diamonds, stated “You could fill a garbage truck with the rough diamonds produced from the Argyle mine every year, an ashtray with pink diamonds, but only a half teaspoon of violets”.

The Argyle Violet is on display in the ‘DIAMOND: RARE BRILLIANCE’ exhibition for all to see at the Gem and Mineral Hall in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles until the 19th March 2017.

Future record breakers:

With so many big and beautiful diamonds appearing in 2016, one can’t help but wonder what 2017 has in store for us…

Will the current trend in fancy coloured diamonds continue into this year?

The value of pink diamonds has increased 3-fold over the last 15 years. Red and purple diamonds are much more rare than pink diamonds. The most influential factor in the pricing of these colours is the impending closure of the Argyle Mine in Western Australia. 

The Argyle Mine produces 90% of the worlds pink, red and violet diamonds, so when this mine goes ‘down-under’, the availability of these diamonds will rapidly decline, inevitably boosting their already rare status. 

Production is not guaranteed past 2020 and this has created a strong appreciation for the rarity of these colours, which is likely to continue to increase both demand and prices. 

How many more big diamonds will be found?

There seems to be an increase in the number of large diamonds being recovered in recent years. Some of this may be attributed to luck, such as the instance of the worker who plucked the Lesedi la Rona out of the blockage of a sorting machine. The rest can be attributed to the review of some mining methods.

Mines such as the Lucara owned Karowe Mine are working with new recovery processes, which involve using x-rays on large pieces of ore to see if they contain large diamonds. 

Usual methods involve crushing all ore down to 30mm as this is considered the most economical size to process, even though this has the potential to break up or obliterate any diamonds of a larger size.

Recent research has also revealed new information into the formation of the largest diamonds, which shows that they form three to four times deeper than most diamonds. Could this new knowledge aid miners in finding more of these beasts?

Are there any hidden gems out there?

Many diamonds are sold privately and one can only imagine how many magnificent diamonds are circulating within private sales or kept secret within personal collections. 


The Harrods Diamond - image courtesy of Harrods.

A wonderful example of this is the newly revealed Harrods Diamond, a 228.31ct Pear Brilliant, graded a G colour and a VS1 in clarity, which has recently been dusted off and bought out of the depths of the vault at the famous Harrods department store in Kensington. This diamond will be bought to sale this year. Does this stone have the potential to break a new record?

2017… we’re ready for you.

Further Reading...

BBC News: Why have so many huge diamonds been found recently? 
The Telegraph: Impossibly rare violet diamond found in remote mine expected to fetch millions. 
Rio Tinto: Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender world exclusive preview in Copenhagen 
The Jewellery Editor: Behind the scenes at the Argyle Pink Diamond tender. 
The Financial Times: Coloured diamonds outshine whites as top mines sparkle fades. Lucara's Constellation diamond sells for record $63M but Lesedi La Rona set to beat it. 
Rapaport Diamonds.Net: Cullinan Yields Another 'Exceptional' Diamond. 
CBS News: "Oppenheimer Blue" diamond sells for new per-carat record at auction in Switzerland 
The Guardian: The Sweet Josephine: rare pink diamond sold in Geneva auction
Naturally Colored:  Aurora Green Diamond - The Largest Vivid Green Diamond Ever 
Graff Diamonds: The Wittelsbach-Graff - Patience and Precision



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