The second largest diamond in history has a new owner

The largest rough diamond discovered since 1905, the Sewelo of 1,758 carats, was revealed with great fanfare last April, named in July and then largely disappeared from view. Now it has resurfaced with a new owner, and it is not a name I can expect.

He is not, for example, Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, looking for a trophy. It is not a royal family looking for a centerpiece for a new tiara. It is not the De Beers Group, who could be seen as the creator of the diamond market and owner of the Millennium Star diamond, which, uncut, was a 770 carat stone.

He is not even the Graff diamond specialist, the owner of the Graff Lesedi La Rona, a 302.37 carat diamond that is the largest emerald-cut sparkler in the world.

It is Louis Vuitton, the luxury brand best known for its bags with the ornate logo that its mega gems, which has been present at Place Vendôme, the heart of the high jewelry market, for less than a decade.

According to Jeffrey Post, the curator in charge of gems and minerals at the Smithsonian Institution, “if you buy such a diamond, it gives you immediate credibility.” It is also, especially in the case of Sewelo, more risky than you can imagine

However, unlike Constellation and Lesedi, it is covered with carbon (at this time it looks like a large lump of coal), which does exactly what kind of diamond material is inside a “mystery,” according to Ulrika D’Haenens. -Johansson, senior scientific researcher at the Gemological Institute of America.

It also makes “the risk much greater,” Pruwer said. When the stone was unearthed, there was a good amount of speculation that it may be worth significantly less than its not-so-giant brothers.

The profitability of any large stone depends on its performance: how many carats of gem quality can be taken out of it once cut to maximize the price, which in turn is a function of impurities in the stone, however, as Mrs. D ‘Haenens-Johansson points out that even impurities have value in a stone of this size. They can reveal when the diamond was created and at what depth in the earth.

The mine, which has examined the diamond through a small “window” on the dark deck and laser scanned, describes the stone as “near gem quality,” with “high quality white gem domains.” There are thousands of diamond gradations, ranging from D-flawless (the rarest) to industrial stones used in cutting and manufacturing.

“Is D or D impeccable, and how big is the perfect part? I don’t know, “said Burke, acknowledging that the purchase” required a bit of guts and confidence in our experience. “(To be fair, LVMH can afford it; its revenues in 2018 were 46.8 billion euros, or $ 52 billion. .)

Still, Mr. Post said: “You don’t buy a stone like that unless you have a plan for what you’re going to do with it and you think there is enough clear material to be able to cut it and make a profit. “

After all, along with the potential gains, LVMH also bought the less quantifiable, but palpable, boasting rights of diamond in an industry where mythology and romance are part of the price.

Mr. Burke said that when his team suggested that Vuitton consider buying the Sewelo, his initial reaction was: “What took you so long?”

“It is a large and unusual stone, which makes it our alley,” he said. It is also the first time that Vuitton buys a rough stone without having previously sold it to a customer. (According to Mr. Pruwer, most fine jewelers buy stones that are already cut and polished.)

“We are experimenting with a different way of bringing a stone to the market,” said Burke, who said that Vuitton would not cut the stone until he had a buyer, and that the company did not plan to hold on to the stone as a masterpiece, the way that Tiffany has maintained its homonymous stone of 128.54 carats.

Vuitton’s partners in Antwerp are building a scanner capable of seeing through the stone cladding, although with the image already in place, including a CT scan, they have estimated that it can produce a cushion-cut diamond of 904 carats, a oval of 891 carats or several stones between 100 and 300 carats.

Regarding the fact that the acquisition occurred almost at the same time as the acquisition of Tiffany, Mr. Burke said it was a coincidence. However, he acknowledged, with some underestimation, that LVMH “generally likes to become a leader in any field in which we enter.”

What if the Sewelo doesn’t prove to be as lucrative as LVMH is betting? “I’ll go jumping in a river,” said Burke.

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