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The Letseng mine in the small Kingdom of Lesotho, South Africa has just uncovered another massive diamond rough: a 198-carat stone, roughly the size of a large letseng 198 caratstrawberry.

A diamond over 100 carats is rare enough – with only about 10 to 15 found each year worldwide – but a rough that is nearly 200 carats is an exceedingly rare find. A stone of this size is expected to yield a polished diamond around 100 carats, or half the weight of the rough it originated from.

Even though the stone’s size is impressive, it is not even close to being the largest ever uncovered from the Letseng mine. In fact, the Letseng mine is well-known for churning out large, quality rough over the years, and has the highest price per carat production of all the mines in the world. Some of the largest include the Letseng mineLesotho Promise, the 15th largest diamond in the world at 603 carats; the Letseng Legacy at 493 carats, and the Leseli La Letseng at 478 carats which are 18th and 20th largest respectively.

What makes this rough even more valuable is its’ designation of Type IIa, which constitutes less than 2% of all natural diamonds. Type IIa diamonds have no measurable nitrogen impurities, making them chemically pure. This not only gives them exceptional optical transparency, but also a high likelihood of achieving a colorless (D-E-F) grade and a high clarity grade. Officials from Gem Diamonds Ltd, which own the majority stake in the Letseng mine, confirmed this after inspection of the stone noting it as “an exceptional white, high-quality diamond that displays no fluorescence”.

Martin Potts, a London-based mining analyst has estimated the 198 carat stone to fetch somewhere between $12 to $15 million.

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wreathWe’ve seen many seemingly ordinary items bedazzled into creations of jewelry art: diamond studded shoes by Stuart Weitzman, Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bras, and even Lady Gaga’s golden wheelchair chariot… but this is the first time expensive jewels are combined with Finnish flora to create a Christmas wreath.

Created by floral designer Pasi Jokinen-Carter, it takes the place as the most expensive wreath ever designed. With 32 diamonds and 16 rubies totalling 138 carats, the creation is priced at $4.6 million. Resting among the elaborate and rare greenery that includes Helleborus flower buds, hand-curled eucalyptus leaves, and blue Hedera berries, the gems add an unmistakable luxurious touch without overwhelming – they create a nice visual contrast with a little pop of color. Twenty-two loose round brilliant hellediamonds are nestled in the petals of one of the Helleborus flowers, and another cradles a 3.03 carat fancy yellow diamond. The largest gem in the wreath is a 17.49 carat ruby.

“I am passionate about my craft and this recent invitation to create an exclusive wreath, using natural materials and diamonds, has been an exciting and exceptional project,” says Jokinen-Carter. The wreath takes about a week to create, with most of the greenery and flowers sourced from his own backyard. All of the gems can be easily dismantled after the holidays, where they may find new (more permanent!) homes in jewelry pieces.

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KidArkansas Crater of Diamonds State park has been a great place to find diamonds. Just this year alone the diamonds found at the park are about 327. In 2012 a total of 530 diamonds were found, 131 of them brown and 100 of them yellow. The lucky one this time to find the 27th largest diamond ever found in the park would go to 12 year old Michael Dettlaff, of Apex, N.C. He was searching for less than 10 minutes when he saw something shinier than a rock and picked it up. It had been raining that morning and the family almost didn’t go. The rain helps to sink the dirt down and allow the stone to rise to the surface more.  He named it “God’s Glory Diamond.” The gem is honey brown and the size of a jelly bean, it has a beautiful metallic luster and interesting notches says park interpreter Waymon Cox.

Another  lucky man is named Steve Vehige, him and his 17 year old son, had come to the site four times before being rewarded with such a find. Both of them spent 3 days digging a 37 and half acre search area.  He stumbled upon the brown diamond while mumbling aloud to another park visitor about what a rough diamond would look like. Lo and behold he was holding one in his hand at the same moment he was inquiring about it. He has called his discovery the “Flint Hill Special” in respect to his hometown.

A park interpreter, Margi Jenks, said that rain increases your chances of surface finds and that year in July the rainfall in the park reached 10 inches. “Diamonds … stay put when it rains and the dirt surrounding and covering the diamonds washes away. I knew from past experience that Saturday’s sunny skies would probably result in some nice diamond finds,” she said.

FindOther semi-precious stones and minerals found in the park are amethyst, peridot, garnet, jasper, agate, berite, calcite, and quartz. Around 40 different rocks and minerals are found in the Arkansas Crater making it a great treasure hunt for those who visit. A total of 75, 000 diamonds have been unearthed from the site since the first was found back in 1906. The largest diamond to be discovered in the US was at the Arkansas Park its name is Uncle Sam, a white diamond with pink cast weighing at 40 carats.

The Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas is the world’s only diamond producing site that is open to the public. An average of two diamonds are found per day in the park. Whatever kind of gem the visitor finds it gets to keep and the park provides free identification and registration.

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kimberly diamondThe New York Museum of Natural History is having an exhibition for the rare 19th century 55 carat diamond that was once part of the Russian Crown Jewels.

The stone is named “Kimberley Diamond” after the Kimberley Mine where it was discovered in South Africa in 1868. It had been cut from a 490 carat crystal. In 1921 it turned into a 70 carat gem and later in 1958 was re-cut and improved for brilliance and proportions.  In the re-cutting process the stone lost some weight 14.92 carats. Now weighing 55.09 carats it was valued at $500,000 but is probably worth considerably more now.

Kimberly Diamond has been perfected to a champagne coloured, emerald cut, rectangular flawless diamond. It is about 1.25 inches in length. It has been described as a “cape diamond” which is an Old World term meaning “deep colour.”

In order a diamond to survive the Earth’s surface it has to get there really fast this stone got a ride on magma. Magma starts very deep in the earth and moves towards the surface at 35-40 km/h. During a volcanic eruption the magma creates bubbles like champagne and can reach speeds up to Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound).

Diamonds were first found along rivers where people would look for gold. In the 1870’s lots of diamonds were found at the bottom of rivers and streams in South Africa. They would follow the river upstream and find a grey blue rock which contained a diamond. Now days a gem the size of the Kimberley diamond wouldn’t survive in modern mining techniques it would be crushed in the process.

The diamond will be on display with “Patricia Emerald” and “The Star of India.” Patricia Emerald is a 632 carat 12 sided emerald crystal from Columbia. The Star of India is the world’s largest gem quality blue star sapphire it is 526 carats in weight and is 2 billion years old!

Kimberly Diamond is on loan from Bruce T. Stuart. The stones will be added to the Morgan Memorial hall of Gems and is on display in the NYC museum through to June 2014.

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diamondIt’s an exciting time for auction houses as many rare stones have been sold in recent months including a 9 carat purple pink diamond and a 3.21 carat blue diamond.  These diamonds are just a sample of some of the beautiful gems which have been sold in the past few years.  We will recount some of our favourites!

The historic Beau Sancy, one of the world’s most famous diamonds, is 35 carats and internally flawless. This double rose-cut  stone was literally owned by kings and pawned by queens.  For generations royal families traded the stone back and forth like a valuable baseball card.  Sotheby’s auctioned the diamond in May and it was sold for 5 million pounds.

The 33 carat flawless gem formerly known as the Krupp was one of the hottest pieces to sell at Christie’s this past year.  The diamond, which sold for over $8.8 million dollars was a featured item from Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection sold in December.  Christie’s VP described the piece as “one of the most beautiful gems I have ever seen.”

Last but not least on our list is the Wittlesbach, a legendary 35 carat blue diamond which was bought by Laurence Graff for a record $24.3 million in December 2008.  The purchase became very controversial however when the London collected recut the stone soon after acquiring it, losing approximately four carats.  The Financial Times wrote a story on the transformation and asked the question “Is this gem vandalism?”  Graff remained unfazed from the criticism, boasting that he had improved the stone’s color and clarity.  The diamond, now called the Wittelsbach-Graff was exhibited in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in 2010 and has continued to dazzle gem aficionados.

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footballsizegem2This football sized gem has come out of hiding and is looking for a new home but one that will make sure the unique marvel can get viewed on a regular basis. The giant sapphire gem was carved and designed by an Italian artist Alessio Boschi. It took two years to complete and was finished by the year 2000. The 28cm Millennium Sapphire was found in Madagascar in 1995. It weighed 90,000 carats while in its rough state but lost about a third of its mass because of the carving process. The carvers practiced each 134 design on pieces of lapis lazuli.

The sapphire is a tribute of human genius and each 134 design is a different subject including faces. Some of the human genius that is carved onto this stone are faces of Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Beethoven, and Albert Einstein. It also has representations of the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and Gutenberg’s printing press.

Currently a union of investors with Daniel McKinney as the leader owns the Millennium Sapphire. In the past 15 years the magnificent carving has only been on public display twice. In the times its not on display it is tucked away in a safe of an undisclosed U.S location. The union agreed that this amazing work needs to be enjoyed by the public. The owners didn’t want to put it up for auction because they wouldn’t be able to control the buyer and someone might have it just for their private display.

“We’ve got offers in the past from various millionaires and billionaires from China and other places to buy it for themselves,” McKinney told The National, “but they would probably put it in their mausoleum and it would be lost to the world.”

“It would be great if it could be displayed in a museum as that’s why it was created,” said Scott Chapman, an associate of McKinney. “The consortium wants to be able to display it and show it.”

For now it is on sale if the right buyer can come up with $180 million and promise to have the 61,500 carat gem to be housed where the public can view it regularly.

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Red DiamondsThe Australian Argyle Diamond Mine will feature three ultra-rare red diamonds in the upcoming Pink Diamond Tender. This is the most it has featured in 30 years.  They began mining in 1983 and only six diamonds have come out of the mine as certified Fancy Red by the Gemological Institute of America. This is a very notable time for red diamonds.

Also for the first time in eight years it will feature a diamond bigger than 3 cts: a 3.02 ct. fancy pink radiant going by the name of “Argyle Imperial.” There is another weighing at 1.56-carat which is round fancy red called the “Argyle Phoenix.”

Josephine Johnson Argyle Pink Diamonds Manager had this to say about it. “Since mining began in 1983 only six diamonds certified as fancy red by the Gemological Institute of America have been presented for sale at the annual tender. To have three of these rare red diamonds in one tender is a very special moment in time.” They will be presented for sale at the annual tender. The diamonds will have their world debut first in Sydney. Then tender viewing will take place in Hong Kong, Perth, and previews in Tokyo and New York with bidding closing in October. All vividly naturally coloured diamonds are expensive but red diamonds are so rare that many think their price might double in the next couple of years.

The Argyle mine produces the world’s entire supply of pink diamonds with the red seen as the top pinnacle of the colour scale. Japan is the largest consumer of pink diamonds since the cherry blossom tree inhabits the land there the shade of pink is highly favorable to them.Argyle Pink

Fancy red diamonds are the rarest naturally coloured diamonds. Very few diamonds receive a grade of fancy red. This grade of fancy red means that the diamond is pure red and has no modifying colour.  No one really knows how the diamond gets to be this colour. It is thought that it gets its colour from a molecular structure distortion as the jewel journeys up from the crusts earth to the surface.  Another thought is that the diamond could get its colour from nitrogen atoms. Diamonds are made up of carbon atoms bonded together, sometimes there are gaps within these atoms and scientists think that the gaps and nitrogen cause the red colour. They are shaped by millions of years of crystallization. Either way the natural colour of a fancy red is unmistakable and breath taking. Diamonds come in different colours including, champagne, yellow, pink, red and purple.  Natural and treated colour diamonds are two completely different markets.

Check out a local jewellery boutique store for more information and to view some different coloured diamonds in a variety of shape and cut. If you are looking for that perfect custom diamond to add to an engagement ring its best to shop at a local jewellery store where they have trusted customer service and can help you find the exact unique coloured stone that’s right for you.

 

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