Forming a partnership that will bring to auction the most exquisite diamonds ever offered to the market, Christie’s and de Grisogono have joined together for their first auction in Geneva, presenting a unique necklace suspending a 163.41-carat, D colour, flawless, IIA type diamond.
The ‘4 de Fevereiro’ rough is the 27th biggest rough white diamond ever discovered and the largest in Angola. The rough was analysed in Antwerp and cut in New York, where a team of 10 diamond-cutting specialists were involved in mapping, plotting, cleaving, laser-cutting and polishing the rough 404.20 carat into a unique 163.41 carat emerald-cut stone.
Not only is this perfect white diamond the largest of its kind ever to come to auction and the most valuable gem the house has ever set, it is also the first step in a game-changing move for de Grisogono on the cusp of its 25th anniversary. So, following the recent record-breaking auction, where the necklace achieved a hammer price of US $33,701,000, we discover the process which took the precious stone from mine to auction.
On the eve of 4th February 2016, in eastern Angola, the Lulo mine revealed its greatest treasure yet, a 404.20-carat rough diamond. To pay tribute to the day the country commemorates its long journey to independence, it was named the ‘4 de Fevereiro’ and is the 27th biggest rough white diamond ever discovered. It is also the largest to be found in Angola, assuring its place in diamond history. Soon after its discovery, de Grisogono was able to secure the stone, and under the guidance of Fawaz Gruosi the jewellery house was then able to apply their unique creative vision.
The Cutting and Polishing Process
For the next stage of its journey, the ‘4 de Fevereiro’ travelled to New York, where it took 11 months to analyse, map, cleave, laser cut and polish the elegant 163.41-carat emerald-cut stone we see today. The almost rectangular shape of the stone inclined the cutters to opt for an emerald cut and, on the 29th June 2016, the first cleave was made by hand in the presence of Fawaz Gruosi and his team.
The Creative Process
In December 2016, the 163.41-carat diamond left New York and travelled to de Grisogono’s headquarters in Geneva. The challenge for Fawaz Gruosi and his team was to maintain the spirit of de Grisogono in a jewel worthy of this magnificent stone while not forgetting that it must be a wearable piece of jewellery of the utmost comfort. After two months, 50 different design options were reduced to just one, an asymmetric necklace with the 163.41-carat diamond as the centrepiece, enhanced with emerald-cut diamonds and emeralds.
Over six months, a team of 14 master craftsmen and women, including eight jewellers, five setters and one engraver, lavished 1,700 hours on the creation, making each piece of the necklace by hand in de Grisogono’s high jewellery atelier. Working from a highly detailed life-size wax model, they meticulously refined every detail while the Gemmology department assembled the thousands of emeralds and diamonds, each cut individually to ensure the harmony of the design.
Here, we talk to Gruosi, Founder & Creative Director of de Grisogono about the journey that brought him to the moment of auction, and what makes this such a work of art.
Tell us about the design and how it came to life?
This was the result of almost 50 designs which I sketched after looking, playing, and holding the stone. After this I had to try and choose between all of them, which was a tough choice, but finally I went with this design.
Why did you choose to combine it with a cuff bracelet?
Technically speaking, you can see all of the stone with both pieces, and I think the cuff gives the owner more opportunities to wear this amazing diamond.
What would you tell the new owner of this beautiful piece of art?
That I am sad to say goodbye, as I have grown attached to the piece since I have spent a lot of time with the stone, both designing and on tour travelling with it.
I chose emeralds because I love the green colour and mixing it with other stones. The green gives great contrast and enhances both colours. And, being Italian, I am superstitious. Green means good luck, and you will see a lot of it in my collections.
Tell us about why you chose to pair up with Christie’s?
I have known Christie’s for many years, and due to their extensive global channels, it made it possible to have a worldwide auction. This offered a great amount of visibility for the piece and attracted a lot of attention.
What are you currently working on now?
So many things! We have Basel coming up and are currently working on the prototype for this, together with continuing to concentrate on the quality of diamonds. It is not all about the 300 and 160 carat pieces, it is also about the 10 and below carats.
Tell us about your journey and what motivates you?
I started as a jeweller in Florence and I have been incredibly lucky throughout my journey. Everything came to me, which was a miracle. I’m not working, I am playing, making sure that I make beautiful pieces, and my clients feel it.
What do you hate?
I hate liars and show-offs.
How would you describe de Grisogono in three words?
Love, love, love.
Can you share with us your objectives and main resolutions for the new year?
To push more for the excitement of evolving.
Rahul Kadakia Hits the Hammer at $34 Million
With a diamond of this importance, a unique sales process is required. Having handled some of the world’s most valuable diamonds, de Grisogono and Christie’s have entered a partnership to offer The Art of de Grisogono series. So, following the record breaking evening sale on 14th November 2017, we took the opportunity to speak with Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Jewellery at Christie’s, who shared the story and privilege behind handling the world’s rarest and most historic diamond.
What was your impression of today?
It was a very exciting day for us at Christie’s in Geneva. We had a very special auction, presenting and achieving a world record price for a unique necklace suspending a 163.41-carat, D colour, flawless, IIA type diamond. There was a lot of action during the 6-7 minutes it took to sell this unique jewel, with more than 3 people bidding in the room and on the phones.
Was this one of your most expensive auctions?
It is not the most expensive auction, but it is the most expensive jewel. It is amongst the top auctions which we have had.
Tell us about whether you think the trend for auctions is changing?
We still have people buying online, so technology is very much part of our sales. However, we are a 251-year-old company, and although we are still very traditional in our business, we also incorporate modern technology, evolving with it. When it comes to this type of jewel, people want to come and see the piece, and need personal attention, meaning the human relationship is still necessary.
What would you advise for first time potential buyers at auctions?
I would advise attending the exhibition before the sale, together with talking with a specialist who can advise you on what you are looking to buy, and the cost it entails. Then you should make your limitations and calculations, so that when you come to the auction you just do as you have prepared and enjoy the show, as it is like theatre.
How do you consider jewellery as an investment?
Jewellery is always a good investment. Sometimes it takes time for your purchase to appreciate in value, so it is about buying correctly and waiting the right amount of time for your investment to appreciate.
Can you share with us a memorable auction that you can recall?
There have been many great moments, with today being particularly memorable, mainly because of the high value of the diamond, and there was also the Elizabeth Taylor auction which was a great moment in jewellery auction history. However, at the end of the day it is about the full auction process which can take up to six months, from finding the jewellery to making the deals, which all boils down to one day of sales, and is like coming to the end of a marathon.
What objectives would you still like to achieve in life?
I would like to be a trusted adviser to collectors all around the world.
By Lara Mansour Sawaya