VOL. 32, #2, Summer 2014
BEWARE: Large Gem Scams on the Net, "Pink Star" Diamond Sale Collapse Creates More Questions, Auction News, Kashmir Gemstone News, Gem Robberies, Gem Movies
Beware: Large Gem Scams on the Net
by Robert Genis
Once a week, I receive an email about a gigantic stone that someone wants me to sell or buy. Of course, these stone are always rough and purportedly cost millions. Here is the latest:
"I am in the process of selling a RUBY Gemstone. This stone was valued at $ 20 million dollars for an appraiser in Colombia. I want your help to corroborate the appraised value of the stone and find a buyer. The estimated sale price is much lower than the assessed. We do not know the appropriate mechanism to sell and hope to find a strategic partner to assist in the business. We believe you have market knowledge. The information of the stone is:
|95.40 X 60.21 X 44.28
After writing back, it turns out the real price of the gemstone (using the term loosely of course) is $12 million. Therefore, 12 million divided by 2167.5 equals over $5,500 per carat. That seems like a lot of money for material that looks like it would only be good for cutting cabochon or really low quality jewelry. It just so happened Bonham's was auctioning the largest ruby in theworld at the same time. I looked at the picture and saw what appears to be the Mother of the little stone. They are exactly the same color/tone and clarity. The Bonham stone is 228,000 carats or more than ten times the size of the little one. Well, it must be worth billions and billions, right? Plus, it was supposedly found in King Solomon's mine! I excitedly searched for the reserve. I was shocked to find out the reserve was $100,000-$150,000. WOW.
Wait. It comes to only 43 cents per carat. Of course, that sounds right 43 cents not $5500 per carat. Of course, this is written tongue in cheek. These largestone deals are almost always scams. There are beautiful large stones out there, but they aren't the ones that come to you in an email from someone who knows nothing about gemstones or the market. Beware of these scams! BTW, the stone did not sell at Bonham's either.
"Pink Star" Diamond Sale Collapse Creates More Questions
by Robert Genis
As discussed in last Gemstone Forecaster, Vol. 32, #1, under the spotlight of extensive international publicity at Sotheby's Geneva, a 59.60, internally flawless, fancy vivid pinkdiamond sold for over $83 million. The world record breaking gem was purchased by diamond cutter Isaac Wolf. The pre-sale estimate was $61 million. He competed against three others for the gem in bidding. As most readers know, the deal collapsed and Sotheby's now owns the stone. They say they had promised the last owner $60 million no matter what. It's now in their inventory at $72 million.
What? As a general rule, when this happens, the stone goes to the last highest bidder. If that person doesn't want it, the auction company keeps going until the someone wants the stone. Is Sotheby's telling us no one wanted this rock at any price? This doesn't make sense! Three people had enough money to bid over the reserve but didn't want the stone at the last price they bid? What are the odds? You would think they would be overjoyed. We can only speculate what this truly means.
Issac Wolf has never given another interview after the fiasco. Sotheby's refuses to talk to the press about the deal. Mr. Wolf talked a lot before the deal failed. If interested, watch him at:
Let's examine the deal for a second. According to Wolf, he had a group of investors lined up to buy the stone. According to their calculations, they could resell the stone for $150 million and make $67 million. Wolf argues a one carat fancy intense pink, internally flawless is worth $2.5 million per carat so 59.60 times $2.5 million is about $150 million. He said he was being backed by financial investors. If that is true, does it make sense they would not have their finances in order? Presumably, they would carefully researched and planned the high profile target. People with these types of assets would be prepared for this monumental event. It does not make sense that they would bail out.
In Sotheby's 10k filing, they added the following Risk Factor in relation to the pink diamond. "Sotheby's could be exposed to reputational harm as a result of wrongful actions by certain third parties. Sotheby's is involved in various business arrangements and ventures with unaffiliated third parties. Wrongful actions by such parties could harm Sotheby's brand and reputation." Our minds can reel here. Of course, this was written by lawyers but this does not sound good!
In sum, this deal presents a whole lot more questions than answers. We will keep on it.
Bonham's Fine Jewelry sale in London realized $7.1 million. Here are the top lots:
*A 10.49 Colombian emerald sold for $613,000 or double the presale estimate.
*A 30.08 Sri Lankan sapphire and diamond ring sold for $551,000 against a high presale estimate of $203,000.
*A 24.59 fancy yellow diamond sold for $471,000.
Christies April NY
Christie's New York sold over US$60 million. Here are the highlights:
*A Harry Winston ring incorporating a 6.10 rectangular fancy intense pink diamond VVS1, sold for US$$5,765,000 or $945,000 per carat
*A 2.49 old-mine-cut, fancy yellowish-green diamond with a pre-sale estimate of US$300,000-500,000 sold over US$1.8 million. That is 6 times the low estimate!
*A 6.25 cushion Mogok Burma ruby sold for US $1,325,000, or $212,000 per carat. The stone was gem red:
*A rectangular 42.88 emerald sold for US $1,325,000, above the pre-sale estimate of US $700,000 to US$1.1 million.
Sotheby's May Geneva
Sotheby's sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva established a temporary new world auction record for a jewelry sale when the sale was over $141 million.
*The top lot of the evening was "The Graff Vivid Yellow," a 100.09 cushion fancy vivid yellow, VS2 diamond that sold to an anonymous buyer present in the room for $16,347,847, a new world auction record for a yellow diamond.
*A British jeweler purchased a marquise 12.07 fancy pink diamond, IF, for $7,256,816, establishing a new world auction record for price per carat for a fancy pink at $601,228.
*Two fancy blue pear-shaped diamonds, one fancy vivid weighing 3.08, and the other fancy intense blue of 2.83, sold for nearly $6.5 million.
Christie's May Geneva
Christie's Magnificent Jewels auction sold $154 million. Here are the top lots:
*Harry Winston bought the top lot, a 13.22 pear vivid blue diamond, flawless named the Blue. In the past decade, only three blue diamonds of 10 carats or more with the same vivid grading have been sold at auction. All weighed less than 12 carats and none were flawless. It sold for a staggering $23,795,372, which, at $1,799,953 per carat, is a new world auction record price per carat for a blue diamond. It was immediately renamed The Winston Blue.
*The Ocean Dream, a 5.50 triangular fancy vivid blue-green, SI1, diamond sold to an Asian private for $8,633,798, or $1,414,727 per carat, a new world auction record price for a bluegreen diamond.
*A 21.41 cushion Alexandrite with a distinct color-change from green to purple sold for $1.4 million. The estimate was $500,000 to $700,000:
Sotheby's New York Magnificent Jewels
The sale garnered $44 million against a presale estimate of $36.8 million to $48.2 million.
*The top lot of the day was a 15.23 fancy intense orangy pink diamond that sold to an American private for $6,101,000, or $400,590 per carat.
*A 28.18 Kashmir sapphire sold to an anonymous bidder for $5,093,000, setting a world auction record per carat price for a sapphire of $180,731. The stone had an AGL grading report. The sapphire first came to Sotheby's in 1983 and sold for $640,000, which seemed high at that time. The Kashmir sapphire market has exploded over the years due to lack of production:
Kashmir Gem News
The Governor asked Khurshid Ganai to take early steps for the scientific exploitation of the Sapphire mine at Padder
Press Trust of India
April 21, 2014
Let's hope we get some more Kashmir sapphire production. Clients wait in line for these stones but generally they can only be repurchased from old collections. ED
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra today asked the State government to take early steps for the scientific exploitation of the world famous Kashmiri Sapphire mine at Padder in J&K's Kishtwar district. The Governor asked Financial Commissioner, Industries and Commerce, Department, Khurshid Ganai to take early steps for the scientific exploitation of the Sapphire mine at Padder, an official statement said here today. Sapphire from Padder Valley in Kishtwar district is famous the world over for its unique peacock-blue color.Jammu and Kashmir Minerals Limited (JKML) holds a mine lease over an area of 6.65 square kilometre on GT Sheet 52/C at Padder, at a height of 4,327 meters. Extraction of these sapphires from mines in Padder began in 1885 and they achieved legendary status in the jewelry world. The gems mined during this period are valued highly and usually fetch enormous prices around the world, officials said.Their color holds up in all kinds of light, which experts describe as a magical property, as compared to other fine sapphires such as Burmese stones, which lose their rich color in the evening light. The stone has a magical 'velvety' effect, creating a soft, yet strong color. The price of these pure sapphires easily crosses USD 100,000 a carat, making them the most expensive in their category.
New Zealand Herald
Cannes on alert after diamond heist
May 13, 2014
Since this is the summer, let's have some fun and add stories about jewel heists and gem movies. ED
Movie stars like to sparkle on the red carpet but security is being tightened in Cannes this year after a spate of increasingly audacious thefts highlighted the ease with which jewel thieves can strike.
A year ago, as film festival luminaries partied into the early hours, a thief broke into the hotel room of an employee of Swiss jewelers Chopard and made off with a US$1.4 million (NZ$1.6 million) haul in a crime straight out of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief. In another twist, the theft came hours after the premiere of The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola's film about a group of Californian teenagers who break into celebrity mansions to steal designer items while their A-list owners are out on the red carpet. Twelve months on, with the jewels still missing and the trail gone cold, Cannes authorities are preparing to deploy nearly 700 police for the 2014 festival.
Scott Selby, co-author of Flawless about the $100 million Antwerp Diamond Centre heist in 2003, said the thieves at last year's festival took advantage of "relatively lax" security to snatch items that were normally well protected. "The Chopard employee left the jewelry in a hotel safe deposit box in her hotel room. That was a mistake," he told AFP in a telephone interview from the US. "All someone needed to do was break in and rip the safe from the wall. The thief did not even need to know how to break it open, he or she simply took it with them to open at their leisure."
In a second theft during last year's festival, a $1.9 million diamond necklace by de Grisogono was taken from under the noses of a reported 80-strong contingent of security guards during a party at the exclusive Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc near Cannes. Staff found the necklace, which was on display at the party, missing at the end of the evening. Two months later, thieves raised the stakes when they struck again, this time taking jewelry worth $142 million from the Carlton Hotel where To Catch A Thief was partly set. A man with a semi-automatic pistol, his head covered in a cloth, walked into an exhibition being held in a wing of the hotel with direct access to the street. The robber cleared the display cabinets before simply melting into the crowd on the Croisette, the Cannes promenade.
Selby said the theft had at least some of the hallmarks of the gang of robbers known as the Pink Panthers but could equally have been the work of another "clever thief" who spotted an opportunity. The Panthers are wanted for robbing items worth $450 million from luxury stores around the world since 1999. "It was very well planned, very clever and very audacious," he said. "The exhibition was in a hotel that was not set up to be a vault, it's not a protected thing, it's a hotel in a busy city." Insurers Lloyd's of London have offered a reward of up to $1.3 million for information leading to the recovery of the Carlton exhibition jewels.
Jewel thefts, however, are notoriously difficult to solve."It's definitely very hard to catch people because it's not the sort of thing that people talk about and there is a short window to catch someone," Selby said. "It's possible that later there's some kind of snitch or they catch somebody for something else who tells them about it but the loot will have been long gone." The Carlton jewels would have been smuggled out of France and the stones resold after any certificate numbers inscribed on the sides had been polished off. Unlike art theft, jewel theft was lucrative because it was relatively easy to get away with, Selby said. Only the most unusual stones would present a problem for the thieves. "A really nice necklace that's got a giant pink stone or a giant yellow stone that is going to be very identifiable becomes tricky.
"That's where you have a choice to either sell to a buyer willing to buy a stolen item, often in Hong Kong or in the Emirates. "Or what you have to do is find a corrupt polisher and cleaver in Antwerp and to turn it into two stones or shave a little bit off and put it in a new shape," he said. The vast majority of these stones, however, would have been one or two carat white or yellow stones that were easy to resell. Such stones were very probably in engagement rings "that someone is wearing in London right now," he added.
Thai court throws out murder charges in Blue
The Age World, Australia
April 1, 2014
by Lindsay Murdoch
The latest chapter in a 25-year-old old tale of murder, theft, deception, kidnappings and diplomatic intrigue has ended in a Thai court, with murder charges against five former or serving police officers dismissed due to what a judge said was weak evidence.
But the decision has worsened Thailand's long, fractious diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and again raised questions about the mysterious disappearance of one of the world's most stunning diamonds.
The story that reads like a paperback thriller began in 1989, when a Thai gardener climbed through a window into the Riyadh palace of a Saudi prince and stuffed gems said to be "the size of chicken eggs" into a vacuum-cleaner bag and shipped them home to Thailand via DHL. The gardener, Kriangkrai Techamong, flew home after quitting his job soon after.
He did not realize some of the gems were priceless, selling them for as little as $30 to a jeweller, Santhi Sithanakan. One was a nearflawless blue diamond, which, at 50 carats, was said to one of the largest blue diamonds ever discovered.
Saudi Arabia tipped off Thai police that they suspected Kriangkrai and police, led by Lieutenant-General Chalor Kerdthes, arrested him and declared they had solved the crime and recovered the gems, including the blue diamond, which is worth millions of dollars. Kriangkrai was convicted of theft in Thailand and received a fiveyear jail sentence, of which he served almost three years.
Lieutenant-General Chalor and an official Thai delegation flew to Saudi Arabia to return the stolen property. But the Saudi royals quickly discovered the real jewels had been replaced with copies and the blue diamond was still missing. Unamused, they sent a trusted businessman, Mohammad al-Ruwaili, to Bangkok to unravel what had happened.
But in February 1990, what became known as the "Blue Diamond Affair" took its first violent turn when three Saudi diplomats in Bangkok were shot dead, execution-style, in two different attacks on the same night.
Two days later, Mr Ruwaili vanished. He too was presumed murdered.
Saudi royals suspected the murders were to silence the men after they discovered information about the gems, and downgraded relations with Thailand. The work permits of tens of thousands of Thais were cancelled. Trade was cut. Saudi tourists were barred from travelling to Thailand.
In August 1994, Mr Santhi, the jeweler who was suspected of having switched the real jewels for fakes, was kidnapped and tortured. Not long after his wife and 14-year-old son were found bashed to death.
Chalor was found guilty of the murders of Mr. Santhi's wife and son and was sentenced to death but the sentence has never been carried out. In 2006 he was also charged with having received the stolen gems.
Both Chalor and Mr. Santhi have never revealed what happened to the jewels, raising suspicion they ended up in the hands of powerful people. Thai media organizations reported that the wives of top Thai officials were seen wearing new diamond necklaces at society functions.
Further complicating the mystery, there have been unconfirmed reports the Saudi diplomats were murdered by Iranian hit squads.
In 2010, with the statute of limitations in the case about to expire, Thailand's Office of the Attorney General announced what appeared to be a breakthrough: a senior policeman, Lieutenant General Somkid Boonthanom, and four other policemen were to be charged over the murder and kidnapping of Mr Ruwaili, the Saudi businessman. All five denied the charges.
Late on Monday, Southern Bangkok Criminal Court ruled the men must be given the benefit of doubt, since there was not enough evidence to convict them.
Somkid smiled after the verdict was read but refused to comment to reporters. He is said to be due for promotion.
Ateeq al-Ruwaili, an elder brother of the missing Saudi businessman, said his family would lodge an appeal against the decision.
Saudi Arabia's top diplomat in Bangkok, Abdalelah Alsheaiby, told reporters that "of course, the [Riyadh] government will be displeased with the verdict as this case is in the attention of the Saudi king and public".
"The king in Saudi Arabia will have the final say whether and how Riyadh should respond to the disappointing and unfair verdict," he said. Asked how the decision could affect Saudi-Thai relations, Mr Abdalelah said "there is nothing that could make it worse".
Prosecutors Probe $50M Pink Diamond's
by Alexander Smith
The alleged disappearance of a pink diamond worth $50 million from a vault is being investigated, Swiss officials said. The Geneva prosecutor general's office confirmed it launched an probe after South African diamond trader Sylla Moussa filed a complaint alleging his 50.56 carat gem had disappeared. Moussa told NBC News that he had deposited the diamond with storage company Malca-Amit in a vault at Geneva's airport in 2007. But despite receiving email and verbal confirmation in 2013 that his stone was safe, he said it was not there when he visited in August. "If I do not find my diamond then I want my $50 million," said Moussa, who runs Johannesburg-based Sylla Diamond International and also has operations in the West African county of Guinea. "I am the only person authorized to take the diamond out of the vault. "The case was first reported by the Swiss public broadcaster Radio Television Suisse. It said Malca-Amit's lawyer had denied the allegations and threatened to sue him for libel. When contacted by NC News, Malca-Amit's Geneva director Francisco Bautasta declined to comment. Henri Della Casa, spokesman for the Geneva prosecutor general, confirmed that an investigation had been launched following a complaint from Moussa last year but declined to comment further because it was an active inquiry. Malca-Amit operates in more than 30 countries and is well known for storing highvalue gems and fine art.
Police recover $85k diamond stolen from
Longboat Key condo
April 9, 2014
by Bobeth Yates
After a 7 month investigation, a rare and very expensive piece of jewelry is back with its owner. The investigation that led to the recovery of the diamond ring stretched from the Suncoast all the way to New York City's diamond district.
"We were investigating the theft of a unique and very valuable diamond," says Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming discussing a case that reads like it came out of a Pink Panther movie. "The ring itself had diamonds all over it, but the solitary stone in the center was a 4.5 carat diamond that was appraised at $85,000," Cumming said.
But there are some major differences between this heist and the ones you've seen in the movies. One, this took place at an unassuming condo on Longboat Key. Two, the valuable stone eventually made its way into the underground diamond market in New York City.
"While following those leads she was contacted by a New York investigator who indicated that a jewelry clearing house in Manhattan had apparently located our stone," Cumming says. The police chief says the uniqueness of the stone helped in its recovery. An endeavor master gemologist appraiser Tom Seguin says is very uncommon.
"There's two diamond markets in New York, Canal Street and 47th Street, and they literally have high-rise buildings and every space in one of those building is a jewelry dealer," Seguin says, though he adds that the heist may have been more involved than some people think.
"If you think of someone who's just a criminal and this is just a one-time thing, they would go to a pawn shop or they might go to Tampa," Seguin says. But knowing where and when to sell the stones, were no match for this ring's uniqueness. "I'm very grateful we got the one piece back," said the ring's owner Barbara Weech.
Michael Artman, a maintenance worker at the condo, is charged with one burglary and has admitted to at least 10. The police suspect the true number may be higher than 40. Artman is currently in the Manatee County jail.
The Love Punch
The Globe and Mail
May 23, 2014
by Courtney Shea
The Love Punch feels like a remake of an old MGM caper comedy. It's not, but it feels that way, which will certainly set it apart from the Disney villains, X-people and radioactive sea monsters of the summer movie schedule. The movie first premiered at TIFF 2013, where it was also a fish out of water alongside Oscar bait such as Gravity and 12 Years a Slave. At the Toronto press conference Emma Thompson made a case for cinematic lollipops: "I don't think we make movies that are meant to be make us feel happy from beginning to end." Later, when di rector and screenwr i ter Joel Hopkins compared the actress and her co-star Pierce Brosnan to Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, Thompson brushed off the compliment joking that she could "probably fit [Hepburn] into one of [her] bra cups." Spoiler alert: This is funnier than anything in The Love Punch. Brosnan and Thompson play a long-divorced husband and wife, Kate and Richard – he has recently been abandoned by his latest age-inappropriate piece, she is unsuccessfully trying to navigate the over-50 dating scene (armed with a killer haircut – Thompson hasn't looked this good onscreen in years). The exes are forced back together after their retirement savings are stolen by a French tycoon (Laurent Laffite), so stereotypically heartless that he may as well twirl a pencil mustache. Of course said businessman has a sexy French fiancé (Louise Bourgoin) to whom he has just presented a $10-million diamond necklace. Realizing that this rock may be their only chance at remuneration, and that the bride to be will be wearing it at her French Riviera wedding (a celebration sure to make even the upcoming Kim and Kanye nuptials look low-key), Richard and Kate embark on a Pink Pantheresque jewel-heist adventure. High jinks ensue, but hilarity – that may be pushing it. The best part of The Love Punch is easily the chemistry between Brosnan and Thompson, who bicker and banter like the old pals that they are. Both actors have said that one of the biggest draws of signing on was finally getting to co-star (if only the script had been a bigger lure). Even the director and screenwriter, Joel Hopkins admits that Step 1 was locking in his two leads. "[After that], you think, okay, now we need a story," he told TIFF reporters, as if script-as-afterthought is a reasonable filmmaking strategy. Luckily these actors can do quite a bit with quite a little – Thompson can score laughs with a simple eyebrow cock, so her attempt to infiltrate a hen party of bikini-clad French teenagers is predictably worth the price of popcorn. The entire script is full of references to aging: James Bond has a bad back and bunions, though he can still do dashing with both hands tied behind his ... well, you'll see. Most everything about this movie is predictable within the first few minutes: Early on we learn that Thompson is allergic to flowers while Brosnan is allergic to cats, and you certainly don't need clairvoyance to predict that this is all building to a flora and feline filled climax. That said, there are worse things than sitting back to see a talented cast indulge in bit of fun – more of a half-hearted love swat than a love punch, but then, doesn't the summer movie schedule have enough violence?
The Last Diamond Film Review
The Hollywood Reporter
April, 25 2014
by Jordan Mintzer
From Rififi to The Red Circle to the seldom seen Mélodie en sous-sol, the French used to make some of the best heist movies around. While that hasn't been the case for a long while, writerdirector Eric Barbier's latest robbery riff, The Last Diamond (Le Dernier diamant), represents a worthy attempt to revive the genre in Gaul. Featuring strong performances by stars Yvan Attal (Rapt) and Berenice Bejo (The Artist), this this classically helmed caper is neither groundbreaking nor entirely convincing, but offers up enough hooks to keep things alive through the final reel. A pre-Cannes release on home turf should see a modest box office steal, while Diamond may be slick enough to score offshore sales, not to mention a potential Stateside remake. Conniving professional safecracker, Simon (Attal), is currently out of jail on parole, which doesn't stop him from engaging in some low-level larceny along with his favorite partner-in-crime, Albert (Jean-Francois Stevenin). When the latter gets them on a major job trying to swipe the legendary Florentine diamond -- valued in the film at €40 million ($55 million), although in real life it went missing during WWI and has never been found -- Simon uses his thieving skills to seduce the beautiful Julia (Bejo), who's been put in charge of the jewel's auction following her mother's mysterious death. Like many a solid heist flick, this one spends a good portion of its early and midsections setting things up for the big day, with co-writers Barbier, Tran-Minh Nam and Marie Eynard throwing in plenty of bogies as Simon heads to Antwerp and swindles Julia into an affair. While the unlikely lovebirds are never quite believable on screen, their relationship provides some of the film's more memorable scenes, including one where Simon has to steal a key from Julia's hotel room and winds up in between her sheets. Rather than saving the final robbery for the third act, Barbier stages it earlier on, with Simon and his cohorts -- including his ultrashady boss, Scylla (Antoine Basler) -- laying their hands on the precious stone as Julia realizes she's been had from the get-go. It's at this point that Diamond veers away from convention and provides a few unexpected late twists, although everything winds up coming down to a love story between thief and fall-girl that never works in the way of say, the original The Thomas Crown Affair, or else the many George Clooney-Julia Roberts tiffs of Ocean's 11.
This isn't to say that Attal and Bejo aren't strong in their respective roles, and the former is especially good as a hard nosed criminal who finds himself blindsided by romance. But their characters are never given enough time to develop amid lots of plot mechanics, and once all the double-crossings and false leads are used up, what's left is a movie as shiny, sparkly and translucent as the Florentine itself. Like in his stylized 2006 thriller, The Serpent (also starring Attal), Barbier provides an extremely polished sheen to the proceedings, with cinematographer Denis Rouden (36th Precinct) using a warm and moody color palette to capture locations in France, Belgium and Luxembourg (unlike many co-productions, this one at least finds legitimate excuses for all the border crossings). Renaud Barbier provides a whimsical jazzy score for a crime that's never meant to be taken too seriously.