'The Enigma' - a 555.55 carat Fancy Black Diamond
Property from a Private Collection
A fancy, natural colour, black diamond with 55 facets, weighing 555.55 carats.
Accompanied by a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records, dated 2006, for the world's largest cut
Accompanied by GIA report no. 13448951, dated 22nd June 2004, stating that the diamond measuring
54.13 x 44.86 x 32.25mm and weighing 555.55 carats is natural colour, Fancy Black; as well as a letter
saying that this is the largest fancy black diamond which they have reported on as of that date (22nd
June 2004); and a letter from the GIA describing the diamond in more detail - stating that it is an unusual
form of diamond known as carbonado.
Accompanied by Gubelin report no. 0407010, dated 20th August 2004, stating that the diamond is
natural colour, Fancy Black, as well as an appendix letter and an insurance appraisal from Gubelin, dated
30th May 2003 for $15,000,000.
Accompanied by a facsimile of a letter from Gubelin, dated 12th November 2021, confirming that the
diamond is the same stone as described in the Gubelin report no. 0407010.
Please note that Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact by Sotheby's). Please also note that we do not guarantee, and are not responsible for, any certificate from a gemological laboratory that may accompany the lot. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the relevant section the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
A replica of the Enigma diamond was exhibited at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, viewed by over 71 million people over a 6 month period.
The Enigma is an exquisite and extremely rare carbonado type black diamond, the largest fancy black natural colour diamond in the world as of 2004 (as per the GIA and Gubelin) and the largest cut diamond in the world as of 2006 (as per the Guinness World Record book). Surpassing the weight of both the Great Star of Africa, 530.2 carats, and the Golden Jubilee, 545.67 carats, the Enigma weighs a staggering 555.55 carats.
What makes carbonado diamonds such a unique stone? Most diamonds are usually uncovered inigneous kimberlite rock formed deep within the Earth. Carbonados differ in that they are found inalluvial, sedimentary deposits, close to or on the Earth’s surface, which may possibly suggest extraterrestrial origins. It is thought that this specific type of black diamond was created either from meteoric impacts producing natural chemical vapor deposition or an extraterrestrial origin - from supernovae explosions that formed diamond-bearing asteroids which ultimately collided with the Earth.
Detailed studies of carbonados could underline this theory; specimens contained micro-diamonds lacking the typical minerals usually present in other diamonds and also found deep in the Earth’s mantle. Instead, carbonados contain traces of nitrogen, hydrogen, abundant in interstellar space and, most importantly, osbornite, a mineral uniquely found in meteors. Dating from around 2.6 to 3.8 billion years ago, the age of these specimens also indicates that these diamonds are possibly not of this Earth. Today they are found exclusively in Brazil or the Central African Republic, which could add further weight to the theory that they are indeed treasures originating from interstellar space. Both these regions were connected for more than a billion years, forming the supercontinent, Rodinia; it was during this period that the area is believed to have been struck by meteorites, accounting for the distribution of carbonado diamonds to be found there today.
Carbonados have a dense polycrystalline yet porous structure and form an opaque diamond composed of randomly oriented and innumerable tiny diamond grains. These grains impede light refraction and increase absorption, thus giving the stone its black appearance. Analysis with Micro Raman laser spectroscopy revealed a unique and highly unusual characteristic of the Enigma - minute red crystals spread evenly throughout the stone. Notably, the hardness of these red crystals does not differ from that of the matrix, indicating that these could perhaps be red diamonds. The Enigma has a unique feature, in that most faceted diamonds have a single axis of crystal symmetry rendering them relatively easy to cut. However, the aggregated structure of carbonados is the toughest in existence, making them nearly impossible to cut and polish. According to the consignor, the Enigma was bought in the late 1990s and would have weighed over 800 carats in the rough form. It took over three years to produce this uniquely shaped faceted specimen. Being able to achieve a diamond which precisely weighs 555.55
carats, contains only 55 facets and has such a high degree of polish is almost inconceivable; it is a testament to the exceptional technical talent and extraordinary creativity required to cut and finish a carbonado diamond.
Furthermore, its design is imbued with significance. The shape is inspired by the Middle Eastern palm symbol, the Hamsa, a sign of protection and a tool of deflection against the evil eye, it also represents blessings, power and strength. The leitmotif of the number five derives from Hamsa and is considered extremely auspicious. In addition, black diamonds have come to be seen as the ‘stone of reconciliation’, a restorer of peace.
Historically, diamonds have been prized for their high degree of transparency and absence of colour; diamonds with a black coloration were typically reserved for industrial uses and larger specimens were only considered as collectors’ stones. Indeed, most gem-quality black diamonds used in contemporary jewellery design are treated to produce their black colour. So, to have a natural faceted black diamond of this size is an extremely rare occurrence. In recent years several natural and sizable black diamonds such as the Black Orlov, the Amsterdam Diamond, and of course, the Enigma have gained a certain notoriety, showing a clear trend that natural black diamonds are becoming increasingly desirable and sought after on the current day market.
This sale of the Enigma is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the rarest, billion year old wonders known to humankind.