The 555-carat piece being auctioned at Sotheby’s is made special by its size and pedigree.
by Maria Zelenko
Even the name should make bidders curious: 555.55 carats weighs the advertised black diamond, which was provided with 55 facets. His name is Enigma. These key data make the stone not only the world’s largest so-called fancy-color natural diamond, but also the largest cut of its kind.
In the course of an auction lasting several days, Sotheby’s will start selling the. February find a new home for the rarity. It is expected that the gemstone could go for up to seven million US dollars over the virtual counter.
In order to achieve a price like this, the auction house advertises its high-carat unique specimen with one detail in particular: The carbonado, as black diamonds like this one are known in technical jargon, is not supposed to have been formed deep underground at extremely high temperatures like its relatives – but to have originated from outer space.
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Because of their unusual material properties, carbonados have long been suspected to have their origins in space. In 2007, U.S. geologist Joszef Garai was able to determine their characteristic infrared spectrum for the first time and compare it with that of diamonds in meteorites, among other things. Garai and his team were able to determine that this was strikingly similar.
Sotheby’s also believes that the Enigma originated in interstellar space and found its way to Earth in the form of a diamond-bearing meteorite countless years ago. Above all, the occurrence of osbornite, a typical meteorite mineral, indicates this, he says.
Some experts nevertheless doubt the origin. "Of course it’s possible," says Viennese jeweler Christoph Kochert as well. "However, it could just as well have been created differently. It’s good marketing in any case."
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In the jewelry trade, black diamonds, which get their color from a large number of graphite inclusions, were for a long time considered inferior goods. In the past few years, however, the black gemstone has grown in popularity, says Kochert: "The fascinating thing about it is that although it does not have the fire of a white diamond, it sometimes has an intense hard luster. A necklace made of such stones, for example, can be something very special." Although black gemstones are still a niche topic in his store, the jeweler has noticed an increasing interest in diamonds with a different hue. Whites may still be considered the ultimate, but customers are becoming more liberal with colored stones. "What is bought is what pleases," says Kochert. "And this can be, for example, a piece of jewelry with brown diamonds. We sell something like this very often."
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In addition to price (browns are significantly cheaper than whites), the expert sees another advantage in colors like this: "We also offer larger old-cut diamonds, which typically often have a tint to them. Through this even larger stones seem more discreet, less noisy."
With Enigma there is no question of that. Whether the mysterious carbonado will ever become a piece of jewelry after sale? "Maybe a famous rapper will have a heavy necklace made from it," speculates Christoph Kochert with a twinkle in his eye. "But most likely it will be presented on a pedestal at home. In any case, the new owner will have a good story to tell his guests."
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The fact that the number 5 appears throughout is no coincidence. The shape with 55 facets is inspired by the Middle Eastern symbol "Hand of Fatima". This is said to serve as protection from the evil eye.
Carbonados like the Enigma have been found mainly in Brazil and Central Africa. Some of the most famous diamonds in the world are black diamonds: The Black Orlov weighs 67.5 carats and is said to have once been stolen from a Hindu statue. Since then a curse is said to lie on it.