“A coloured diamond is a touchstone of the universe, a little something God created that man can’t always find…they are the last frontier of collectable.” – R. Winston 1986
The story of this pink splendor was set nowhere else but in the ancient mines of South India, the land blessed with the world’s purest and most famous diamonds, and the only source of diamonds known to men before the 18th century. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, a French merchant and adventurer who was best known for acquiring the Tavernier Blue Diamond the he subsequently sold to Louis XIV, first made a reference to rose diamonds in early 17th century. According to Tavernier’s account, this enormous pink rough weighing over 200 carats was shown to him by moguls in kingdoms of Golconda in 1642 during his second voyage to the East. Valued at 600,000 rupees almost four hundred years ago, this diamond named ‘The Grand Table’ is still the largest pink diamond known to date. In his book ‘The Six Voyages’, he later drew a picture of two pale rose coloured diamonds that he purchased in India circa 1668.
Many of the world’s most famous pink diamonds, such as The Darya-i-Nur, Agra, Le Grand Condé, The Hortensia and Shah Jahaan, very likely originated in the famous Kollur mines, near Golconda in Southern India, adorning crowns and jewels of kings and moguls during that period. Some made their journeys into Europe and were sold or presented as largesse to monarchs and the royals. The exact source of some other famous ones is not known, and some quite large pink diamonds have been recovered from alluvial deposits in the interior of Brazil and Africa in more recent times.
Natural pink diamonds over a carat are extremely rare to come by; some would say it is beyond rare. The famous ‘Williamson’ pink, currently part of the British Crown Jewels, was presented to Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) on the occasion of her wedding on 20 November 1947. Taking its name from its finder, Dr. J.T. Williamson, this pink diamond is one of the most illustrious modern day finds from South Africa. In the late 1980s, encouraging soil samples led geologists in search of diamond mines to North West Australia. After a decade looking through kimberlite sites, they finally discovered the Argyle mines, which now supply approximately 90% of the world’s pink diamonds. Yet, despite this significant discovery, their paucity remained stupefying. Only 0.1% of the twenty million carats of rough produced annually is pink, and a whole year's worth of production of these pink treasures over half a carat would fit in the palm of your hand. The majority of the produce qualified as ‘pink’ are usually around twenty points and of low clarity.
Currently there are no other pink diamond mines in the world, and any discovery of pink diamond deposits would take at least a decade’s time up to the actual production. As this rare treasure draw more and more attention from gem connoisseurs and aficionadas around the world, the demand of the alluring pinks far exceeds the supply. Whenever a pink diamond over 5 carats is put up at an auction, it naturally assumes a pivotal position in the auction room, drawing waves of approving gasps when it fetches astronomical prices time after time. It does not take an expert to admire this nature’s marvel, and their dreamlike colour never disappoints. That, is the magic of pink diamonds.
AUCTION MILESTONES OF PINK DIAMONDS
CURRENT PINK DIAMOND AUCTION RECORD:
The Graff pink, which was purchased by Laurence Graff at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2010 for CHF45,442,500 (USD1,862,739 per carat) is the current world record holder for a pink diamond, as the highest price paid for a pink or any other diamond at auction. It also holds the record for any jewel sold at auction to date.
Million Dollar Per Carat Auction Records:
The Vivid Pink Diamond USD$2,155,332 per ct
Fancy vivid pink cushion-shaped diamond of 5.00 cts (VS1)
Hong Kong December 2009
The Graff Pink USD$1,862,739 per ct
Fancy intense pink rectangular-cut diamond ring of 24.78 cts (VVS2)
Geneva November 2010
The Perfect Pink USD$1,627,966 per ct
Fancy intense pink rectangular-cut diamond ring of 14.23 cts (VVS2)
Hong Kong November 2010
Fancy intense purple-pink brilliant-cut diamond of 3.71 cts (VS1) USD$1,477,378 per ct
Geneva May 2012
The Martian Pink USD$1,444,827 per ct
Fancy intense pink brilliant-cut diamond ring of 12.04 cts (VS1)
Hong Kong May 2012
Fancy vivid pink rectangular-cut diamond ring of 6.43 cts (VS2) USD$1,196,714 per ct
Hong Kong October 2010
Fancy vivid pink rectangular-cut diamond ring of 6.89 cts (no clarity) USD$1,003,555 per ct
New York December 2010
MYSTICAL PINK – TRANSFORMING DEFECTION INTO PERFECTION
It is widely known that diamonds are formed by carbon atoms bonded together in a crystalline lattice that does not absorb any wavelengths of light, thus affording it a white or more accurately, colourless appearance. The whiter its colour, the more precious it is, such is the belief of the majority, because purity is that ultimate rarity. Yet fewer would understand that it is exactly these ‘impurities’, which gemmologists call ‘trace elements’, that account for the vibrant array of hues found in natural coloured diamonds. Each colour is nature’s unique recipe, and only the most subtle balance of ingredients can culminate in a substantial beauty too mesmerizing to be true.
Nitrogen and boron are the contributing factors to yellow and blue colours in diamonds; pink, however, kept its own secret far beyond comprehension of researchers. Natural pink diamonds have what is known as a defect centre. With enough of these defect centres the diamond may take on different properties, such as absorb certain wavelength of green light, lending it a pink appearance when light reaches our eyes. How this exactly happens still baffle gemmologists and scientists around the world.
What researchers are sure of is that one or more of the carbon atoms in the diamond lattice may be missing or replaced with a different element in the defect centres. This is a result of plastic deformation of the diamond during its geologic history in the earth, usually when it is in semi-solid state. Layers of carbon atoms that are parallel to the orientation of the applied stress are displaced slightly along gliding planes. These glided planes of atoms appear needle-like and are known as pink grain lines or pink graining.
The concentration of these bands of graining is directly related to the strength of the pink colour, the more graining there are, the more intense the pink colour. Hence, the critical conditions required for the formation of pink diamonds and the passage as they travel to reach earth surface often result in less than desirable clarity. It is fair to say that pink diamonds come naturally with a certain extent of graining. The linear pattern of surface graining can sometimes be moderately visible; whereas internal graining may give the diamond an overall hazy appearance. For a pink diamond to exhibit a homogenous and saturated pink colour without the obvious shortcoming of graining, a very delicate balance must be achieved, needless to say, completely shunned from human intervention. At the pinnacle of Mother Nature’s mastery is this 8.41 carat fancy vivid purple-pink diamond, displaying not only an evident sweet pink colour, but to be hailed for its exceptionally rare internally flawless clarity with no graining whatsoever and of a most beautiful hue of pink of intense saturation. True perfection, by all odds.
“Pink is adored for its flattering feminine colour: it is the gentle flakes of cherry blossoms in Springtime April; it is delicate cotton candy floss melting at the tips of innocent fingers; it is the cheeks of a new-born tucked into a soft woolly quilt; or a precious dream sailing on chartaceous carnations.”
“Mined by De Beers, and fashioned from a diamond rough of over 18 carats, and through meticulous cutting and polishing, this flawless 8.41 carat vivid purple-pink diamond is a remarkable gift from Mother Nature, through Man’s creative aspiration and technical mastery.”
“Crystal” is a term that is sometimes used in gemmology to describe the appearance of top quality gems that is ‘highly transparent and very clear’. The 8.41 carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink diamond is a gem that the term crystal is aptly applied. It is a rare combination of size and saturated colour with an Internally Flawless clarity grade.
Tom Moses, Senior Vice President of GIA Laboratory and Research, New York
Since 2005, Sotheby’s Diamonds has presented limited edition collections of diamond jewellery and bespoke pieces through a partnership with the leading international expert in diamond cutting and polishing. Each stone from Sotheby’s Diamond is hand-picked and every design meticulously handcrafted by European-trained artisans. The exquisite settings and breathtaking designs are either unique or of a limited production numbering ten or fewer pieces.
Weaving innovation with tradition, Sotheby’s Diamonds collections feature creative pairings, juxtaposing rare and important diamonds, sometimes with unexpected materials including wood, ceramic and steel. Whimsical while classically beautiful, each and every Sotheby’s Diamonds piece is an individual masterpiece—at the heart of which is always one-of-a-kind diamond.
At Sotheby’s Diamonds salons in Hong Kong and New York, these exclusive creations, as well as magnificently set single-stones and rare diamonds and coloured diamonds of unparalleled quality, are available year round.
Beyond the salons, Sotheby’s Diamonds will showcase stunning diamond jewellery at the Hong Kong Autumn Sales at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this 3-8 October. The collection will also be presented at select events in conjunction with the auction calendar throughout the year, as well as at trunk shows in Beijing, Taipei and Singapore among other locations.
Contemporary yet timeless, Sotheby’s Diamonds form a perfect marriage of art and jewellery, continuing the Sotheby’s tradition of bringing together the most discerning collectors with impeccable works of art.