Glenn Worthington has prospected at the
Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas for more than 30 years.
Worthington found his diamond while wet screening in the park's Pig
Pen, a low-lying section at the south end of the diamond search area.
Though most of his finds have weighed under a carat, in February
he found a 2.13 carat brown gem he named the Brown Rice Diamond. The
stone has the elongated shape of a grain of rice but is much larger. It
has a frosted surface and is the light brown color of iced tea. The
Brown Rice Diamond is the largest of 37 diamonds found so far in the
park this year. Last April, he registered a 2.04 carat yellow
diamond he named Easter Sunrise. He says he plans to have the Brown
Rice Diamond cut, and then will sell it. Crater of Diamonds State Park
is the world's only diamond-bearing site where the public can search
for diamonds and keep any they find. On average, two diamonds are found
each day at the park. The three most common colors of diamonds found
are white, brown and yellow, in that order.
The iPod Supreme Rose edition by Stuart Hughes is an Apple iPod covered
with 263 grams of 18k rose gold, creating a copper-like shade. The
platinum navigation is studded
with 4.5 carats of flawless diamonds. The platinum rear Apple logo
plays host to an additional fifty three diamonds. Even the navigation
wheel has 4.5 carats of diamonds. This is a
limited edition design, consisting of only 10 units available
Want to be the first kid on the block to have a diamond IPad? This
special iPad has 11.43 carats of G/H color diamonds and VS2/SI1 clarity
set in micro-pave.
Think of it this way: You are paying $16,000
for a diamond and get a pretty good martini on the side for free. When
The Ritz-Carlton opened at the top of the Tokyo Midtown Tower in 2007,
the hotel dazzled the world with its soaring height, spectacular views
and a martini that would knock the socks off James Bond himself. The
Diamonds Are Forever Martini is decadence in a glass -- a smooth blend
of chilled Grey Goose vodka with a lime twist, poured over a flawless
one-carat diamond. Good news: You get to keep the diamond. Just try not
to swallow it.
"The inspiration for the drink came from the
former hotel manager who was trying to create a 'wow' cocktail to
complement the hotel's other superlatives -- the tallest building, the
most expensive suite, the largest guest rooms," says The Ritz-Carlton
Tokyo's director of public relations Linda Beltran.
Luxury like this comes with a price tag to
match: the Diamonds Are Forever Martini sells for a jaw-dropping
¥1,800,000 yen (approximately US$18,000). Despite the price,
Beltran says that the hotel has sold two to date. Yet there are
currently no plans to introduce another big-ticket cocktail.
"Our bartender staff is always creating
exciting libations, but The Diamond is Forever Martini will stand in a
class by itself for now," she notes.
The martini is available on the 45th floor of
the hotel in The Lobby Lounge and Bar, where visitors can sink into
overstuffed chairs covered in candy-colored pastel silk while listening
to live bossa nova from 2:30pm to midnight. The interior, designed by
Frank Nicholson, is modern but traditional, with impressively high
ceilings and amber wood walls illuminated by giant inverted-gumdrop
On a recent visit to The Lobby Lounge and
Bar, cheers ensued from a group of well-heeled men and women dressed in
tuxedoes and sequin-studded dresses. Was this the sound of the sale of
the hotel's third Diamonds Are Forever Martini?
The bartender shakes his head no. Just a
raucous bunch enjoying the 'cheap' drinks. "I think the first one sold
was a marriage proposal," he says. "Just imagine her surprise."
Diamonds Aren’t an Investors
by Brett Arends
February 12, 2010
EDITOR: Coming from the
Journal, I sure wouldn’t brag about returns from the stock market
the last 10 years. If you invested $1.00 in the S&P in 1999, your
money was worth .83 cents in December 2009. Nevertheless, the
point they make about white diamonds is accurate. Most people buy
white diamonds these days for love, not to turn a profit. However,
if The Wall Street would have computed the return of
colored diamonds or some colored gemstones vs. stocks, the
results would have been dramatically different.
The marketers claim a diamond is forever.
And sure, it's a hard stone. It lasts a long
But what about financially? Is it equally
durable? You've just sunk a small fortune into those rocks you're
giving on Valentine's Day. Are they likely to hold or gain value over
I decided to investigate. And the results,
alas, aren't sparkling.
Even before looking at all the transaction
costs, diamonds have proven an absolutely disastrous investment for
According to the Rapaport Diamond Index, a
respected industry benchmark, prices of top-quality stones have
collapsed by as much as 80% in real, inflation-adjusted terms over the
last 30 years. Even if you set aside the short-lived but massive price
bubble back in 1980—around the time of a similar bubble in gold and
many other commodities—the results have still been abysmal.
The index has been measured since 1978 by
Martin Rapaport and his firm, the Rapaport Group, which provides a
variety of research and trading services to the gemstone industry. The
index looks at prices for top-quality one-carat stones, those with the
best color and clarity. While every stone varies, in 1978 a typical
such stone, according to the index, cost around $6,100. Today it costs
On the surface, that looks like a gain. But
investors are frequently fooled by the effects of inflation. Taking
that into account, the stone has actually lost about half its value in
real purchasing power.
Stone prices peaked in 1980 at about $60,000
in today's money. Some store of value.
After the crash in the early 1980s, prices
bottomed out in 1985 at about $9,600 in today's money. Since then, in
real terms, they've barely edged up. They have, at least, kept up with
inflation. But that's ignoring all the related transaction costs, from
broker's fees and commissions and retailer markups on buying and
selling to insurance costs.
Never mind that during the same period,
anyone investing in a broad-based stock index fund—or even government
bonds—made many times that money.
Diamonds are a marketing gimmick as much as
anything else. Most men feel they have to give a diamond ring when they
propose—even though, as anyone knows after a moment's thought, the only
woman worth buying a ring for is the one who doesn't care how much you
spent on her ring. (In Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice," I might add,
the successful suitor is the one who picks lead over silver or gold.)
The biggest winner in the diamond game is the
Oppenheimer family, which runs De Beers, the Standard Oil of the
diamond world. The company dates back to Cecil Rhodes and the Victorian
era, and once controlled nearly 90% of the world's diamond business. It
is still by far the biggest player. (Annual results, out this week,
showed sales and profits tumbled across the industry as a result of the
recession. But De Beers has merely responded by cutting production and
costs. Rising demand from the newly rich in emerging markets means the
future looks bright. And the company had no difficulty raising a quick
$1 billion from its investors to pay off some debts. Life is good at
the top, even when times are tough.)
Nicholas Oppenheimer, the billionaire in
charge of the company, admitted this week that most of the sales growth
in the U.S. over the past decade has been the result of clever
There's no logical reason why you should have
to cut a check to Mr. Oppenheimer's family, or even to their
competitors, in order to ask your girlfriend to marry you on Sunday.
But you probably will anyway. Most of us do. Marketing is a powerful
If you are doing so, Russell Shor, senior
industry analyst at the Gemological Institute of America, has some
advice. Pear-shaped diamonds can often seem bigger than round ones of
the same number of carats, he says. And small differences in clarity
are often less visible to the naked eye than differences in color.
But you're much better off selling diamonds
than buying them. The numbers tell the story. Anyone who invested
$1,000 in the Tiffany & Co. IPO in 1987 and just sat back and left
their money alone, merely reinvesting the dividends, would have about
$26,000 today. Someone who sunk that money into diamonds instead: less
Anglo American, the South African mining
company that owns a major stake in De Beers, has been a terrific
investment for decades. Investors in the stock more than tripled their
money last decade—while diamond prices rose by less than a third.
Has the longer-term picture for diamonds been
any better than that of the last 30 years? Reliable data are hard to
come by. Mr. Shor says historical studies show modest price gains
before the 1970s boom. "Until the 1970s, prices were relatively stable,
trending upwards," he says. "in the mid-1970s, we had a lot of
inflation. Diamonds, all of a sudden, soared in value."
If the past is prologue, which past? If we
see soaring inflation and negative real interest rates again, as we did
in the 1970s, diamonds and other hard assets might even take off again.
But with investments, as with love, there are no guarantees.
Sotheby’s Spring Sale
Offers Superb Color
By Jeff Milller
March 24, 2010
Sotheby’s will hold an April sale
of Magnificent Jewels and a single owner auction, "Always in
Style: 150 Years of Artistic Jewels," in New York on April 20, 2010. A
majority of the white diamonds that will be featured there are the
highly sought, wearable sizes weighing 10 carats and less. One such
example is a platinum and diamond ring set with a 9.25 carat, D,
internally flawless, type IIa stone, graded triple-EX and assigned a
presale estimate of $1 million to $1.5 million.
A highlight of the colored diamonds on offer
is provided by a rare fancy intense, pinkish-orange diamond ring set
with a 7.67 carat, type IIa, cut-cornered rectangular modified,
brilliant-cut stone that is the largest flawless or internally flawless
diamond of this hue to be graded by the GIA to date. Its presales
estimate ranges from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.
Another superb example is a
magnificent, fancy vivid yellow diamond necklace which features 42
GIA-certified, fancy vivid yellow diamonds weighing a total of 100.17
carats and set in a graduated riviere style. This necklace boasts a
presale estimate of $2 million to $3 million and Sotheby's has
contended that it will be the first of its kind — set entirely with
fancy vivid yellow diamonds — to appear in auction.
An 8.66 carat ruby and diamond ring, which
Sotheby's described as "one of the finest ‘pigeon blood red’ rubies to
be offered on the market," carries a presale estimate of $1 million to
$1.5 million. This historical stone is the property of the Gardner
family and was formerly included in the collection of Isabella Stewart
Gardner, the philanthropist and visionary patron of the arts whose art
collection is housed in the Boston museum that bears her name.
"Gardner loved jewelry and was depicted by
painters John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn theatrically wearing her
rubies on ropes of pearls. According to a letter found in the Gardner
family archives, the ruby on offer was acquired from a rajah who sent
the stone to Mrs. Gardner in Paris, as she was known to be seeking a
ruby in memory of her brother, Charles Stewart," Sotheby's stated.
There will also be a collection of seven
unmounted Kashmir sapphires up for bid that are well matched and
offered as three pairs of cushion-shaped stones and one square-emerald
cut stone. The Collection of Kashmir Sapphires weigh from 4.29 to 8.73
carats and its total presale estimate ranges from $1.1 million to
The April sale will include the Marlene Rose
platinum and diamond brooch, circa 1930, that was formerly a part of
Marlene Dietrich's collection, as well as a collection of jewels from
the estate of Nancy M. Daly. Sotheby’s will also present
magnificent jewels from the collection of Patricia Kluge as a major
highlight of its April sale. The core of Kluge's collection is
comprised of a multitude of white diamonds, including an impressive
pair of platinum and diamond pendant earclips set with almost 64 carats
of pear-shaped diamonds, with its presale estimate. standing at
$600,000 to $800,000, and a sapphire and diamond panthère
wristwatch from Cartier with a presale estimate of $100,000 to
Sotheby's will offer an emerald and diamond
Art Deco bracelet from Tiffany & Co., circa 1925, featuring a row
of 14 beautifully matched Colombian emeralds weighing approximately
39.60 carats. This piece has a presale estimate of $350,000 to $550,000
Taking a Close Look at
March 30, 2010
The song says that "diamonds are a girl's
best friend," but scientists are finding that diamonds are a
researcher's best friend too. Many of the properties of diamond
necessary for technology are impacted by defects and impurities present
in the lattice. In collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution
Museum of Natural History, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has
recently begun studying unique and historic natural-colored diamonds to
understand and characterize the defects and impurities that cause the
NRL has been involved in pioneering work
involving chemical vapor deposition of diamond and the use of diamond
materials in advanced technologies relevant to the Department of
Defense since 1987, and has been complementing its studies of the
defects and impurities in chemical vapor deposition diamond materials
with its studies of natural diamonds at the Smithsonian.
Since late 2005, a team of NRL researchers
led by James Butler of the Chemistry Division, has been examining
unusual natural-colored diamonds. These include many of the diamonds in
the Smithsonian Collection, such at the "Hope" and the "Blue Heart," as
well as a collection of 240 fancy-colored diamonds in the Aurora
Butterfly collection on loan to the Smithsonian.
"Understanding these unique colored natural
diamonds provides knowledge useful to both technologists and
gemologists," Butler explains. "A better understanding of these defects
and impurities (dopants) allow us to tailor the materials properties of
diamond materials: from electrically insulating to semiconducting; from
optically transparent to a variety of colors; or to provide the
isolated quantum states for quantum cryptography or quantum computing."
Hope and Wittelsbach-Graff
During 2005, Butler and NRL researchers Sally
Magana (NRC), Jaime Freitas and Paul Klein worked with the Smithsonian,
Penn State University and Ocean Optics to study the optical emission
properties of the Hope Diamond. This work, "Using Phosphorescence as a
Fingerprint for the Hope and Other Blue Diamonds", was published in
Geology, 36, 83-86 (2008).
Most recently, NRL has been working with the
Smithsonian and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to study
another famous blue diamond, the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond. Both the
Hope and the Wittelsbach-Graff diamonds are believed to have originated
from the same region in India in the 17th century, have similar blue
color and nearly identical red/orange phosphorescence when excited by
ultra-violet light. Hence, it has been speculated that they might have
originated from the same stone. The Wittelsbach-Graff diamond was
last seen in public in 1958. Then, in 2008, Laurence Graff, a diamond
dealer, bought it at auction for 16.4 million GBP. Graff had the stone
cut and re-polished, reducing it from a 35.5 carat stone to a 31 carat
stone, compared to the Hope diamond which is 45.52 carats.
The researchers used a variety of
spectroscopic and microscopic analyses of the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond
to determine the extreme similarity of the gems, but also observed
distinct differences in the dislocation and strain microstructure which
suggest that the gems probably did not originate from the same rough
The collaboration between NRL scientists and
the Museum of Natural History on the Hope diamond and other blue
diamonds at the Smithsonian continues, having examined the
phosphorescence (due to donor-acceptor recombination), and the boron
concentration using secondary ion mass spectroscopy. Also,
soon-to-be-published, is work on the spectroscopic and structural
properties of a collection of pink diamonds.
Key suspect in
murder of Briton
February 10, 2010
Police have arrested a
prime suspect believed to have been involved in the murder of British
gemstones dealer the late Campbell Bridges who was murdered in August
The suspect was
arrested on River Road in Nairobi, six months after the murder of
Bridges who was attacked by a mob wielding spears and machetes near Voi
town where he operated a multi-million business empire.
The 71-year-old Bridges was
described by the international media as a "legend" in the gem industry
having discovered Tsavorite in Kenya in the 1960’s.
"Police have been looking
for him over the murder, and following crucial leads provided to us by
a man who knew him very well, we were able to arrest him," Central CID
Chief Stanley Malinge said.
"He is in our custody but
we are finalising arrangements to have him transferred to Voi where the
crime was committed," he told Capital News.
Soon after Bridges’ murder,
three suspects were arrested and subsequently charged over the killing.
Police said at the time they were looking for
some more suspects they believed participated in the murder.
At the Central Police station in Nairobi, we
caught up with Mr Philip Siengo, the Chief Security officer of Bridges
who escaped death narrowly during the August 2009 attack.
"I was with Bridges when he was killed, we
were ambushed on our way from the police station where we had gone to
report threats from a group of people but I managed to escape with
injuries," Mr Siengo who stills works at Bridges’ firm said.
Mr Siengo sustained head injuries in what he
describes a ‘miracle’ escape.
"I know the people who attacked us very well,
they are just locals and they had been threatening us and my
boss. Even the suspect who is in custody was among them," he said.
Mr Siengo called on the Internal Security
Minister Professor George Saitoti and Attorney General Amos Wako to
intervene and ensure the suspect arrested in Nairobi is charged in
court because he feared some powerful individuals in government may
interfere and have him released.
He said the suspect and others still at large
had been threatening him since August when Bridges was killed and
called on the police to accord him protection.
Retail Gemstone Price Trends (1975-2009)
"The key to appreciating a gemstone is to hold it in your hands, turn
it to see the light dance as it refracts through the complex internal
chemistry, and – if you want to wax
esoteric about it – feel its energy."
The Journey of a Gemstone
February 20, 2010
"Spinel could be the hot trend of 2010 and beyond, and retail jewellers
should be looking to stock more pieces using the gemstone,. Spinels are
rarely treated. Heating experiments on
spinels show no or only limited enhancement, apart from clarifying some
of its turbidity. For me it is a very great pleasure that this stone is
a very natural product."
Dr Michael Krzemnicki, director of the Swiss Gemmological Institute
Mar 16 2010
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