Saturday, January 17, 2009
THE KAZANJIAN RED DIAMOND
Some background on this piece of red loveliness, a diamond of unusual colour.
It was found at Lichtenberg in South Africa. Lichtenberg was the site of several diamond rushes during the 1920s. The main rush took place on 20th August 1926 when over 6000 people, in response to a starter's signal, ran to peg a claim.
A diamond broker by the name of Houthakker bought a 35-carat piece of dark boart. Boart is the lowest quality of diamond so badly flawed and coloured that it's only good for industrial use and one of these is being crushed into a powder and used for polishing gem quality diamonds.
Houthakker showed the stone to Sir Ernest Oppenheimer who suggested it be sent to the Goudvis Brothers in Amsterdam. At first look the brothers weren't impressed but the eldest thought he saw a light in the rough stone.
The firm's master-cutter made a window on each side of the stone. 2 carats were lost in the cutting and the stone remained black. Windows were then cut on all sides, reducing it to 23 carats of brownish stone. After the cutter made the stone into a crystal shape he could see a beam of light.
After seven months of studying and polishing , it became this 5.05 carat emerald-cut gem of a deep ruby red colour. As it was so unusual it was almost impossible to calculate a firm estimate of its worth. It crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic to New York without finding a buyer.
At the beginning of WW11 it was put in a safe in the city of Arnham but in 1944, it and all the other diamonds disappeared. Two years later a parcel was found in a saltmine near Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgarden. The American Army notified the war-loot commission and the red diamond was identified and returned to the Goudvis family.
The stone was sold several times in the following years until in 2007, a customer of the Kazanjian Brothers, Beverly Hills jewellers, showed them the diamond. They bought it and named it the Kazanjian Red Diamond. It is now on display a the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County before going on a worldwide tour.