Talk to me, Harry Winston. Tell me all about it. Particularly if it's large and in-charge - to the tune of almost 25 carats and worth in excess of 46 million dollars. Being a pretty pastel shade of Fashiontribes pink is good, too. When the Graff Pink diamond was auctioned at Sotheby's, billionaire bling lover and jeweler Laurence Graff of Graff Diamonds outbid three others to a level well above the pre-sale estimate range of $28 - $38 million, purchasing the amazing stone from an anonymous seller - six decades after it was sold by Harry Winston.
"The diamond displayed 25 natural flaws," explain the experts at Graff, so they had their master cutters use high tech (and much, much skill) to remove them. "The risks were enormous," they continue...kinda stating the obvious. "One wrong move and the diamond could shatter, sending fragments of the world's most valuable pink diamond scattering across the workshop floor." Laurence Graff also wanted to increase the stone's color intensity, which only added to the pressure. Mission accomplished. The cost was under a carat and the result was (probably) worth it: the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certified that the stone was now blindingly vivid and internally flawless. To celebrate, it was renamed the Graff Pink. "The most fabulous pink diamond in the world," according to Graff. It's hard to argue with that assessment.
Diamonds in particular seem to incite a lust in collectors few other things are capable of. Their history of being drooled over goes back at least to the time of Pliny (rhymes with skinny), the Roman naturalist, who wrote in the 1st century AD: “Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious stones, but of all things in this world.” Diamonds are thought to have begun their glittery career as adored adornment in 4th century BC India, where the stones were gathered locally from streams and rivers. As they made their way west by caravan to the medieval markets of Venice, they became fashionable amongst the elite of 15th century Europe. However, that was then. Why is this still true now and why do the 99% even care?
“Socialism," observed the writer John Steinbeck, "never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” And as embarassed, would-be rich people, we embrace the idea that we will be able to move up the economic tax brackets. "The idea of social mobility, and especially upward social mobility, has deep roots in Western culture. This really is at the heart of Western capitalism," observes Jacob Hirsh, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. "It's embodied most clearly in the American dream: that any one of us could make it to the top. That's the whole point. That's why we're so willing to invest in it."
And invest, we do. The 99% in dreams of becoming part of the 1% and the 1% in "bright, shiny "objects. They've been on a shopping spree of late, snapping up art, sculpture, watches and another pink diamond - this 60-carat oval-cut wonder valued at $83 million. It was purchased by New York diamond cutter Isaac Wolf, who promptly renamed it the Pink Dream.“You can’t take your eyes off it,” confirms David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery in Europe and the Middle East. “It is difficult to exaggerate the rarity of vivid pink diamonds weighing only five carats, so this 59.60 carat stone is simply off the scale, and passes, I believe, into the ranks of the earth’s greatest natural treasures.”
The impetus seems to me to be two-fold: the allure of the ultra-rare and owning a piece of history. The auction which included the Pink Dream raked in an astonishing $200 million and included a famous diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels that had been owned by Ganna Walska, a Polish opera singer (left) whose many husbands included Harold Fowler McCormick, who inspired aspects of the screenplay for Citizen Kane. The Robb Report confirms with a recent piece about the resurgence in jewelry that embodies our cultural past.
Indeed, in a world gone digital and disposable, fewer and fewer items are handcrafted, lasting, unique. Glamorous gemstones made by Mother Nature and crafted into bling by man, by hand, are some of the few remaining things that are.
Here is the podcast I recorded about this & how it relates to the Supremium fashion tribe: Episode 67 - Big Pink Diamonds are a Girl's BFF
Robb Report about the resurgence in jewelry that embodies our cultural past
Music: Kevin MacLeod, Incompetech.com