Larry in the Sky With Diamonds

We publish courtesy of Israeli Diamond Industry Portal Blog

Author: Roe Kalb

With diamond technology becoming increasingly sophisticated, would you plunk down $20 million dollars or more for a rough stone you’d only looked at through a jeweler’s loupe?

That’s what London jeweler Laurence Graff did in 2008 when he bought one of the largest rough diamonds ever mined – a 478-carat stone mined at Lesotho’s Letseng mine.

Diamonds

The actual number of hours that went into cutting the stone might never be known, but the result is clear – Graff’s diamond, which he named the Constellation, is now the largest D color round diamond with flawless internal clarity in the world. Post-polish, the Constellation weighs 102.79 carats.

Graff told the Financial Times that the round shape was one of the most difficult to achieve with such a large diamond. The risk of cutting such a valuable stone is so heavy, he explained, that he and his staff could “go as long as six months planning the stone” until they got up the nerve. “It’s quite a gamble,” he added.

The Constellation proved to be a gamble that paid off. Independent jewelry and diamond appraiser Peter Buckie says that D color, internally flawless diamonds of over 100 carats are rare enough in any shape – never mind round.

Graff is known as the “King of Diamonds” and seems to have earned the moniker. The Constellation broke the size record for its grade set by another Graff diamonds, the Icon, which is also certified as a flawless D color round diamond, but somewhat smaller – weighing in at just under 91 carats.

Polished Diamonds

The Constellation got its first chance to sparkle in public at the annual exhibition of rare Graff gemstones in August of this year. Recession notwithstanding, Graff says, offers for the diamond started flying his way immediately. “There’s always more than one customer,” he said, referring to the Constellation.

While Graff explained that he never acquired such a stone with a particular buyer in mind, clients with enough money to purchase diamonds of this caliber always manage to find them.
But Graff is in no rush to sell off his prize diamond, painting a clear picture of supply and demand and saying that the price will only go up. “There’s more and more wealth in the world than ever before, and yet fewer diamonds to feed that wealth,” he notes.

Big Diamonds

The eventual sale of the Constellation is unlikely to affect the diamond market, Graff believes. He thinks it will eventually be purchased – for “tens of millions of US dollars” – by a wealthy collector who will choose not to have it set as a piece of jewelry.

This year’s Graff exhibition – the event takes place in Monte Carlo, which the jeweler describes as “attractive” to his super-wealthy clientele, who come in on their yachts, visit Graff, and then sail off – also saw the debut of the world’s largest fancy vivid yellow square emerald-cut diamond. The yellow diamond weighs 221.81 carats and serves as an example of the kind of stone in Graff’s possession.

“At the moment we have five stones which are 100 carat each or more, in stock. Each one is the largest of its kind, and I don’t think that’s ever happened in history,” he told the FT. For Graff, acquiring and selling such large, high-quality stones is a greater thrill than selling them.

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