1979 unSEEN Peek™ – GISCARD and BOKASSA’S DIAMONDS “Paris Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but they are at the moment a cause of great embarrassment to President Giscard. It is now clear — indeed he has made an oblique confession on this point — that Giscard accepted a gift of diamonds from Bokassa, the recently deposed ruler of the Central African Republic, when he was Minister of Finance in 1973…”
It has been a while since the last post: I have broken my promise to prepare you for Christmas gifting.
I could apologise, but won’t – does it not take billions of years for a speck of carbon to crystallise into a diamond under great heat and pressure?
I wanted to recalibrate the facets of an unseen archive article, mine for deeper research and some of Santa Baby’s scintillating gifts also added value and insight to the process.
I had planned to give you some inspiration as Valentine’s Day would have been the perfect excuse or moment of male panic for diamonds to be on the mind if not the finger home to vena amoris…
But surely Summer is the best season to showcase diamonds in all their scintillating and refractive glory: against bare skin and surrounded by bright natural light?
I am often asked for my opinion, advice and consultancy on many matters to do with both jewellery adornment and creation, so will share a few fragments from the framework I employ at work and pleasure for you to consider when making a purchase.
The trade goes by the Four C’s when it comes to selecting diamonds, but I prefer to follow my own Eight Point Plan™:
“I can’t put rings on my fingers with a clean conscience knowing that there are girls in Sierra Leone who have no need for bangles as they would slip from the stumps of their wrists.”
ILLUMINATIVE unSEEN Peek™ – THE TRUTH ABOUT BLOOD DIAMONDS
Diamonds should symbolise Love not War, so make sure your stones aren’t stained with orphan tears or the sweat of forced labour by only purchasing gems that are certified Conflict Free.
Red diamonds are extremely rare, but blood diamonds have been alarmingly common.
Although many socialites or fiancées of the late 1990s would not have observed any red tinges to their stones, more than a few would have been wearing blood on their hands in the form of conflict diamonds unethically sourced in Angola, DRC, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Conflict Diamonds were the topic of my Economics BA dissertation completed in 2001 which explored various methods of identifying the origin of rough diamonds and ensuring conflict stones were effectively prevented from entering the market at different points of the Diamond Pipeline.
In 2002, after much campaigning by non-governmental organizations -particularly Global Witness – a coalition was formed between them, national governments and the diamond industry.
The establishment of the Kimberley Process allowed control of the export and import of rough diamonds, which in turn has eroded the trade in blood diamonds as now 99% of polished diamonds retailed are conflict free.
Do not be of the 1% who buy bargain stones of dodgy provenance if they are offered for sale over croissants or digestifs…
Diamonds are measured by their carat weight
One carat equals 100 points and weighs 200 milligrams; about the same as a paperclip or a single carob seed. Carob seeds were historically used to weigh diamonds in the early gem trade as their uniformity made them ideal for counterweighting gem dealers’ scales.
Diamonds weighing less than a carat are referred to as points e.g. 30 points (0.30 carats) and those above one carat will be expressed in a combination of carats and decimals e.g 2.8 carats or 12.03 carats (the size of the vivacious Blue Moon of Josephine purchased by Joseph Lau in November 2015). Such measurement allows for precise appraisal and valuation of stones for both buyer and seller.
Diamonds of equal size vary in value depending on their clarity, colour and cut. The price of a diamond will increase with its weight due to the rarity and desirability of larger sizes.
Price-per-carat is a scale to take into account when selecting a diamond: as the carat weight increases so will the total price. Do not expect to pay the price of two individual carats for one two carat stone, the rarity of the larger stone size adds a premium, so you will probably pay more for a two carat solitaire ring than you would for a pair of one solitaire each stud earrings even though they are of the same colour, clarity and cut.
The purer a diamond, the greater its clarity and brilliance
The vast majority of diamonds contain minute flaws known as inclusions that are generally invisible to the naked eye. Inclusions are nature’s birthmarks and can look like clouds, knots, feathers or crystals.
The colour, volume and position of internal inclusions affect a diamond’s value.
Internally flawless (IF) diamonds have no inclusions and are treasured for their rarity and beauty. Diamond clarity is graded from VVS1 to P3. The larger the inclusion, the lower the grade and rarity of stone. Major inclusions can impede the path of light as it travels through a diamond, so that it has less brilliance and reduced sparkle.
The purer the colour, the rarer the stone
We can’t all have a diamond as blue as an iceberg or the perfect pink of rose petal jelly: there simply aren’t enough to go around.
Diamonds are graded by colour, starting at D (Exceptional White +) and continuing through the alphabet to Z (Light Yellow).
Although that diamond in the jeweller’s window may appear colourless it will probably have subtle yellow or brown tones. To fully appreciate the character of each individual stone compare them side by side with your jeweller.
“Fancy” diamonds are stones in well-defined colours including pink, green, canary yellow and red. These stones are in scarce supply and particularly rare.
The hue of a coloured gemstone is based on the presence of impurities within the stone: trace elements such as boron or nitrogen that add various shades and intensities of colour depending on the cocktail nature decided to mix. Be aware that exposure to radiation results in green diamond shades. Some might prefer to find safety in E numbers and go for a tartrazine shade of yellow in diamonds that they will wear every day of the year until Death parts them from the piece.
Just like a couture dress, no matter the shape a well-cut diamond makes the best of its raw material
The addition of facets to a rough diamond and its subsequent polishing transform the stone into a gem that scintillates with fire and brilliance whilst increasing its value.
Express yourself with the usual cuts or experiment
My favourite looks include the back-to-back pyramids of the Context Cut; the Deco fabulous Asscher Cut, the striking Tycoon cut that riffs off of the classic Emerald and the whimsical innovations of Israel’s Lili Diamonds such the Lily Cut, that reminded me of a lotus blossom until another Israeli company R.G.S Diamonds patented and began to market two actual Lotus Cut Diamond designs.
Diamond divas can buy a piece of rough and commission a specialist cut such as the Starburst which brings out the highest amount of colour in canary diamonds. The auspicious number of 88 kite and star shaped facets will particularly appeal to Chinese buyers who would certainly already possess 发财 fortune and good luck to be able to commission a stone cut in this style.
The number of facets your diamond has affects the stone’s reflective pattern, so choosing a Brilliant Cut with more than the usual 57 or 58 can add a unique scintillation as your stone will emit numerous sparkling smaller reflections than most beholders will be used to observing.
These exceptional diamond jewels from Taffin potently illustrate that the setting of a stone can evoke Desire or Indifference.
The diamonds are all bespoke set in ceramic, semi-precious stones, steel and precious metals.
The setting of your diamond is a visual representation of your taste and style.
The choice of metal, the era or aesthetic tell the world about your style, culture and values.
Whether you’re a traditional show-off with a solitaire prong set in yellow gold coronet; a high-maintenance maven who demands a tapered baguette tutu or a forward-thinking minimalist who would set the same stone by tension in a titanium band, the setting not the stone gives a glimpse into your spirit.
If you work with your hands, channel set diamonds won’t get in your way. As well as reflecting brilliance and whispering of your elegance, pave set stones can allow you to enjoy maximum sparkle for a minimal price.
“Consider the colour of the metal to best fit the aesthetic or accord you wish to achieve with your diamond setting as explored in my earlier post HEAVY METAL.”
“When’s the last time you went on a supermarket sweep in Graff?”
I didn’t think so either.
No matter how much disposable income you have, cost will always be a determining factor in your diamond choice.
Due to supply manipulation and stone quality, prices are prone to fluctuation. As larger stones are rarer they cost more, so a diamond weighing 8 carats will always cost more than 2 stones of the same quality weighing 4 carats each.
A 5ct vivid pink sold at $2.1 million per carat ($10.8M) at Christie’s Hong Kong in December 2009 but this price was trumped in November 2015 by the sale of the rosaceous Sweet Josephine diamond at Christie’s Geneva auction. The 16.08 carat stone exceeded its $23-28 million estimate with the gavel dropping at $28.5 million.
If the thought of such figures makes you blush as though a pink diamond yourself, do some research as to the true market rate for the price of a diamond in the size, cut and colour you aspire to before going shopping.
Dropping your six figures without blinking and not looking closer with a loupe is never a good look as many in sparkling quarters debated after a scene in the recent Channel 4 documentary Lagos to London: Britain’s New Super-Rich.
Grade diamonds by their exceptional excellence not excessive expense
If your man happens to be one of those characters who needs his wealth to be exceptionally portable and easily converted, he might be persuaded to let you showcase one of his “investments” at certain influential events.
“If you are such a man, be a gent and share the love…”
Like all things in life, actions and reactions are all about the person and the perspective.
Personally, I take the view that purchasing diamonds – or any other article of precious quality and value – should be done from a point of Collection rather than Consumption, perhaps it is the Aesthete or Economist within me or a fusion of both…
Diamond collecting should be driven by desire not dictated by another, so I will give some blueprints rather than structure your style.
You can curate a great collection of your own or that of a loved one who may perhaps inherit your own or be your giftee by considering or choosing briefs based upon:
COMMEMORATION – If Life is a journey, surely milestones deserve souvenirs? There is nothing indulgent about purchasing pieces or curating a collection based on landmark events. They will still exist after memories fade or blur and lives expire.
For a romantic collection you might choose pieces to mark anniversaries, marriage, children being born or motifs you come upon that evoke shared memories or represent your bond such as Alpine-reminiscent snowflakes, the Lover’s Knot or trinity pieces.
A mother might choose to gift her teenage daughter a diamond and ruby piece to celebrate her coming into womanhood or be traditional and give her something extraordinary on her 16th or 18th birthday or pass on an heirloom once given to you if a grandparent or relative passes on.
If you are a lady or gentleman who works extra hard and over-stressed for their money, why not gift yourself sparkling trophies to mark significant career achievements and economic advancements? Nothing trumps the feeling of a Right Hand Ring or diamond-set watch as a self-bought bonus bauble. Such gifts can become the cornerstones of a capsule or extensive collection of pieces.
MOMENTUM – Carrots may keep doctors at bay and bunnies happy, but carats can keep some people on the right track and others at their most effective. Gifting to boost morale, reward goals and steer momentum can be a good aid to growth in careers, education and mental or spiritual health of loved ones or yourself. Adding charms to a bracelet is a novel approach and a spiritual charge if gifted or added with talismanic motifs that inspire, affirm and protect the wearer.
CULTURE – You can curate pieces into your collection based on cultures you admire or originate from. 22 carat gold pieces of Indian or Turkish provenance, Egyptian Revival or religious designs or diamonds from Sierra Leone whether of bona fide Freetown lineage or plausible New World extraction…
AESTHETIC – We all are drawn to certain aesthetics and design schools which suit our style or mirror our state of mind. Get to know your Self and express your core nature confidently whether the clinical order and architectural golden ratio of the Art Deco era, flamboyant and vibrant extroversion of Verdura or David Webb or natural expression and timeless spirit of Andrew Grima
INVESTMENT – Go for heritage brands that hold their value and appreciate better than many bonds at auction – Cartier, Van Cleef and Arpels, Suzanne Belperron and master artist Joel Arthur Rosenthal. Diamonds are some of the most enjoyable assets you can own so be sure to match them with your personality and passion as well as plans for profit as Ellen Barkin proved with the epic post-divorce sale of her immaculate collection in 2006.
The Cornerstones of an Important or Immortal Woman’s Collection
DIVA unSEEN Peek™ – During her lifetime, legendary operatic soprano Maria Callas acquired a varied collection of diamond jewellery from both discerning husband and lover.
Signature “Spotlight” Solitaire Studs
A Diamond Tennis Bracelet
A Statement “Right Hand” Ring
An Eye-catching Pinkie Ring
An “Important” Necklace
A Gem- Encrusted Dress Watch
Strings of Pearls
A pair of Chandelier Earrings
A Fabulous Cocktail Ring
An Ornate Brooch
A Complete Suite of Matching Pieces
“If you want to be a “10”, your rocks have got to rate it on the Mohs scale.”
GISCARD AND BOKASSA’S DIAMONDS http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/20th-october-1979/9/giscard-and-bokassas-diamonds
THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS https://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/import/the_truth_about_diamonds.pdf
SEE & HEAR ELLEN BARKIN DISCUSS HER MAGNIFICENT JEWELS WITH RAHUL KADAKIA OF CHRISTIE’S http://www.christies.com/features/gallery-talk-magnificent-jewels-from-the-collectio-2051-3.aspx
© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and africaseenheard.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. Adeyemi, AFRICA: Seen & Heard and africaseenheard.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.