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Article by: Joseph Denaburg

Everyone knows that diamonds are rare, but the very finest diamonds are even more incredibly scarce. Large diamonds with a near perfect standard of color and clarity come on the market once in a blue moon. That was the case on the 13th of November when the stunning 76.02-carat Archduke Joseph Diamond was sold at auction for more than 20m Swiss frank ($21,474,525 USD including commission).

The Archduke Joseph Diamond is one of the most famous, most flawless and most stunningly beautiful diamonds to come on the market in recent years, so it is no surprise that the final sale price broke records for the per-carat price for a colorless stone.

The diamond is generally regarded as the world’s finest cushion cut, with a dazzling standard of brilliance. It is internally flawless, and completely colorless. The Archduke Joseph Diamond is the largest completely colorless and internally flawless diamond to ever be rated by the Gemological Institute of America.

This diamond isn’t just a stunning gem: it also has an impeccable historical pedigree. The extremely high sale price of the diamond is no doubt at least partly indicative of the historical interest behind the stone and its regal lineage.

It was originally excavated from the famous Golconda mines in South Central India. Golconda is known as the origin of some of the world’s finest and most famous diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor, the centerpiece of Britain’s crown jewels, and the famous Blue Hope diamond.

From there it fell into the hands of Archduke Joseph August of Austria, a Prince of the Hungarian line of the Hapsburg dynasty. As the first recorded owner, the diamond bears his name. He passed it on to his son, who secreted it away in a Hungarian bank vault.

The diamond was then sold to a French banker, who managed to keep it hidden throughout the entirety of World War 2. The next time it surfaced was at auction in 1961, and then again in 1993 where it was bought by Alfredo Molina, CEO of Black, Starr, and Frost jewelers, for around $6.4m USD. It has proven to be a very wise investment for Mr. Molina, who has more than tripled his money in the recent sale.

After his purchase, Mr. Molina took the brave decision to have the diamond re-cut and polished using modern day technology. This shaved several carats off the weight of the diamond, but greatly improved the symmetry and clarity of the stone. It is reasonably unusual to tamper with such a historically significant stone, but as a jewelry expert Mr. Molina felt his company could improve it. It seems he has been proven correctly by the diamond’s exceptionally high sale price.

Speculation is rife about who the new owner of this spectacular stone is. Christies of Geneva, the auction house where it was sold, is remaining tight lipped as to the buyers identity. They aren’t even saying which country the diamond will be going to. However rumor has it that is that the buyer will be donating it to a museum where a wider audience can enjoy it.

Everyone knows that diamonds are rare, but the very finest diamonds are even more incredibly scarce. Large diamonds with a near perfect standard of color and clarity come on the market once in a blue moon. That was the case on the 13th of November when the stunning 76.02-carat Archduke Joseph Diamond was sold at auction for more than 20m Swiss frank ($21,474,525 USD including commission).

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

There are many large, famous diamonds, but the biggest gem-quality diamond ever found was the Cullinan Diamond that weighed in at 3,106 carats. The stone was discovered by a miner employed by the South African Premier Mine by the name of Thomas Evan Powell in 1905. It was named after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan.

Analysis of the Cullinan diamond revealed astounding clarity but also a black spot in the middle. The colors around the spot were brilliant and vacillating as the stone was turned; this indicated strain in the stone, a not uncommon trait of diamonds. It was then purchased by the Transvaal government and given to King Edward VII on his birthday.

In the early 20th century, jewelers did not have access to the technology used today and cutting the diamond was considered a difficult, risky task that could very well end in disaster. Joseph Asscher of Amsterdam, said to be the most skilled cleaver of his time, managed to split the stone in half precisely through its defect. It is said that the knife broke in the first attempt but when the stone finally broke it fell apart as two perfect halves. It was then cut into thirds and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and 96 minor stones. The South African government eventually bought the major stones and gifted them to Queen Mary in 1910.

The largest of the major stones that were cut and polished from the Cullinan was Cullinan 1, also known as the Great Star of Africa totaling 530 carats. It was the biggest polished diamond in the world until 1985 when the Golden Jubilee Diamond (545 carats) was found. The Cullinan I, a pear shaped gem, now sits in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross, a sceptre that was crafted for the coronation of King Charles II in 1661. It was redesigned to hold the Cullinan I, which can be removed in order to be worn as a brooch. The Cullinan II, the second largest gem from the original stone, also known as the Lesser Star of Africa, is 317 carats; it is the 4th largest polished diamond on earth and cut in a rectangular cushion. Cullinan II now sits in the Imperial State Crown and can be combined with Cullinan I as a brooch. Both stones are part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

The remainder of the 9 stones became part of the Cambridge and Delhi Dunbar Parure, a suite of emerald and diamond jewelry that was crafted by the crown jewelers for the coronation of King George V in 1911; Mary and George were proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India at a Dunbar in Delhi in December of 1911. Cullinan III, a pear shaped 94 carat stone now is part of a brooch that includes the Cullinan IV, a 63 carat square cushion diamond that was originally the centerpiece of the parure’s tiara. The 18.8 carat heart-shaped Cullinan V was originally part of the stomacher of the parure, a triangular shaped panel that was meant to fill the front opening of a woman’s gown or be attached to the bodice. Cullinan VI, an 11.5 carat marquise cut, was set as a pendant in the parure’s diamond and emerald necklace. Cullinan VII and Cullinan VIII are also part of the stomacher. Cullinan IX is a pear shaped 4.4 carat stone that was set as the bezel in a platinum ring for Queen Mary in 1911.

Speculation persists that the Cullinan diamond is but one fragment of an enormous octahedral crystal, the rest of which is awaiting discovery deep in the bowels of Africa.

There are many large, famous diamonds, but the biggest gem-quality diamond ever found was the Cullinan Diamond that weighed in at 3,106 carats. The stone was discovered by a miner employed by the South African Premier Mine by the name of Thomas Evan Powell in 1905. It was named after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan.

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

To people who are familiar only with the other-worldly beauty of pearls, the distinction between freshwater, saltwater, and cultured pearls can be a mystery. Many people think that the first two are “real” while cultured pearls are imitations. The fact is that the majority of the pearls sold in fine jewelry stores today are cultured whether they are saltwater or freshwater pearls.

Natural pearls, or pearls that were harvested from mollusks by divers, are very rare and usually are antiques. Natural pearls are rarely perfectly round and are usually not very large. The sad reality is that the mollusks that produce pearls “in the wild” are now so depleted that a string of natural pearls would only be within the price range of the incredibly wealthy.

A natural pearl is formed when a parasite or foreign matter make their way into a mollusk’s shell. Cultured pearls involve surgical placement of the irritant. The only way most experts can tell the difference between natural and cultured pearls is through x-rays.

Cultured pearls are a good example of human intervention in nature. When an oyster (mollusk) is 2-3 years old an irritant is surgically inserted and it forms a protective layer of nacre. It continues to add layers over time. The longer it remains unmolested, the thicker the nacre becomes and the larger and more valuable the pearl is. Most pearls are allowed to remain in the oyster between 8 months and two years.

Freshwater and saltwater pearls are both cultured but there are differences that you can see, both in appearance and price. Saltwater pearls are generally more costly because only one can be grown at a time, mainly in the lagoons of Eastern Asia. Freshwater pearls generally come from China and Japan and are grown in lakes, ponds, and rivers. Freshwater mollusks can grow several pearls at one time, sometimes up to a couple of dozen per mollusk.

Saltwater pearls are generally more lustrous and reflective while a freshwater pearl has a soft luster that seems to glow from its heart. A freshwater pearl’s luster is due to its composition, nearly 100% nacre, and many people are surprised to find that they prefer the luster of the freshwater to the iridescence of a saltwater pearl.

Both freshwater and saltwater pearls can be grown in different colors by adding certain metals to the oyster beds. However, saltwater pearls generally are traditional white or Tahitian black. If you see a strand of lustrous rose colored pearls, they are likely freshwater pearls.

Freshwater pearls come in many shapes and sizes while saltwater pearls are generally round. You can get freshwater pearls that are round, button or oval shaped or baroque. They come in sizes as small as a grain of rice, which are often used on wedding gowns.

You can generally tell the quality of a pearl by looking at your reflection in the surface. If you can see yourself clearly it is a good quality pearl. It should have evenly uniform color but don’t expect it to be perfectly round, which is relatively rare. Cultured pearls, both freshwater and saltwater, are quality rated on the thickness of the nacre, how smooth and unblemished the surface is, and the brilliance and reflective properties of the nacre.

To people who are familiar only with the other-worldly beauty of pearls, the distinction between freshwater, saltwater, and cultured pearls can be a mystery. Many people think that the first two are “real” while cultured pearls are imitations. The fact is that the majority of the pearls sold in fine jewelry stores today are cultured…

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

The Norwegian Emerald Parure is one of the most beautiful and storied pieces of jewelry to have ever stood the test of time. The word parure is a French word that means “adornment”; this usually is used to refer to a set of 3 matching pieces of jewelry. The Norwegian Emerald Parure was originally a tiara, a necklace and a brooch, but two emeralds were removed from the necklace to craft a pair of earrings. The parure now consists of four breathtaking diamond and emerald pieces: the tiara, a necklace, earrings, and a brooch. The parure is the creation of Marie Etienne Nitot and his son Francois Regnault, the appointed court jewelers for Napoleon.

The first owner of the Norwegian Emerald Parure was Empress Josephine, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. They divorced in 1810 because she could not bear him a son to succeed him. Josephine kept all of her jewelry, and Napoleon continued to support her financially.

Josephine died a few weeks after Napoleon’s exile to Elba in 1814. After he was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, he refused to leave France before he visited Josephine’s grave. While preparing his body for burial, Napoleon’s followers were shocked to find that he wore a locket with violets plucked from Josephine’s grave.

When Josephine, died she willed the parure to her son by a previous marriage, Eugene de Beauharnais, who bestowed it on his wife, Princess Augusta Amelia. She in turn gave it to her daughter Amelia of Leuchenternberg who married Emperor Pedro I of Brazil and bequeathed all her jewelry to her sister Josephine, the Queen of Norway and Sweden. It has remained in the Norwegian royal family ever since.

The pleasingly symmetrical tiara has a square cabochon-cut emerald surrounded by diamonds crowning its midline. Below it is a smaller pear-shaped cabochon-cut emerald that emphasizes its sparkling beauty. The tiara’s design includes palmettes, rosettes, and s-shaped designs in diamonds, interspersed with emeralds that are oval, tear shaped, and round. It is a lovely example of neo-classical design.

The necklace is composed of rosettes, each oval emerald surrounded by brilliant-cut diamonds. The centerpiece of the necklace is a cushion-shaped emerald that has a single pendant hanging from it; the hanging emerald is surrounded by round brilliant-cut emeralds. The brooch is a collection of emeralds that are each surrounded by diamonds.

The parure is now worn by Queen Sonja, wife of King Harald of Norway. In their youth, after first falling in love, they were forced to date secretly for nine years until they petitioned Harald’s father for permission to marry. Since Sonja was a commoner, it was not acceptable for them to marry; their betrothal sparked a lively controversy. When King Olav V finally got the approval of parliament and gave them his blessing, they were married in 1968. Sonja is the 9th owner of the parure, a stunning creation whose history is as tragic as it is romantic.

The Norwegian Emerald Parure is one of the most beautiful and storied pieces of jewelry to have ever stood the test of time. The word parure is a French word that means “adornment”; this usually is used to refer to a set of 3 matching pieces of jewelry. The Norwegian Emerald Parure was originally a…

Article by: Joseph Denaburg

Once you have come to the life-altering conclusion that you’ve found the woman of your dreams, it’s a bit daunting to think about the proposal. You want it to be something you’ll both remember for the rest of your lives, and it’s natural to be nervous about it. So how do you keep your cool while you’re asking the most important question of your life? First, you need to forget all the botched proposals you’ve seen in the movies and on television. Those are fiction and bear no resemblance to what’s going on in real life. Throw away any preconceived notions of what a proposal of marriage means and concentrate on how you want it to be—how you want her to feel, the love and astonishment you’ll see in her eyes and the perfect moment you know it will be. Tell yourself that 99.9% of marriage proposals go just as planned and yours will be one of them.

One of the most common things that can make a man lose his cool is not knowing whether his true love will like the engagement ring. Although the media portrays it as traditional to present a ring, a growing number of men are proposing without a ring and letting her go and pick it out.

Keeping your cool is easy if you keep the proposal simple. Don’t rent a skywriter, a big screen at a sporting event or make your proposal in a public place. The very nature of these types of proposals almost ensures that something will go wrong! Plan a memorable evening then propose when you are both in a relaxed, receptive mood. Many proposals happen after a romantic dinner while the couple is sitting by a fountain, enjoying a carriage ride, or walking in a park. The simpler the setting, the more likely it is that your proposal will be perfect!

Don’t second guess yourself. Plan your proposal then carry it out as exactly as possible. Don’t panic as the afternoon or evening starts but remember how right your plan was when you made the arrangements. Most brides don’t remember the noisy traffic, the clatter of dishes from a kitchen, or the truly awful stage production they saw before they were proposed to. They remember the love in their man’s eyes, his sincerity, and the thrill that ran through them as they heard him declare his undying love. The little things will take care of themselves so don’t worry about them.

You can also keep your cool by keeping things as they are. Don’t get a new haircut, buy a new suit, or choose an unfamiliar restaurant for the proposal. If you stick with known quantities you will be confident and your proposal will be exactly as you wish it to be.

Finally, keep the words themselves simple. Don’t try to be funny and don’t try to memorize a beautiful poem to express your love. The point is to surprise her with a quick but sincere proposal. If you joke around she may not think you’re serious and not know what to say. If you’re too casual she may think that marriage means about as much to you as buying a new shirt. Have the ring ready, get down on one knee and tell her briefly why you love her so much. Then ask her to marry you as you open the ring box. It will be a wonderful moment that neither of you will ever forget!

Once you have come to the life-altering conclusion that you’ve found the woman of your dreams, it’s a bit daunting to think about the proposal. You want it to be something you’ll both remember for the rest of your lives, and it’s natural to be nervous about it. So how do you keep your cool while you’re asking the most important question of your life?
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