The History Behind The Creation Of The Millennium Jewel Collection
I wrote earlier this month about the blue diamond up for sale at Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 7th. In advance of the sale DeBeers contacted me with a little more info on the blue diamonds including this image of the full set of the Millennium Jewel Collection, a collection of 12 blockbuster stones that includes the De Beers Millennium Star and 11 exceptional and rare blue diamonds originally gathered as part of the Millennium celebrations in the London Millennium Dome. The blue stone in the auction is the first diamond to come up for sale since going into private collection.
How did the collection come to be? Andrew Coxon, President of the De Beers Institute of Diamonds with over 40 years experience with the De Beers Group, is one of the world's leading experts on diamonds and was the head of diamond buying at De Beers Group throughout the 1990s. He was the visionary behind the collection and personally selected each blue rough diamond for its potential beauty and even saturation of color. The stones had been collected by De Beers from their own mines over a period of over twenty years. After selection the two-year cutting and polishing process began.
A 178.5 carat blue rough diamond lost a lot of weight during manufacturing, almost two thirds of the original diamond was turned into blue diamond dust, a sacrifice made because although the color was great the quality of the stone was poor and the stone had to be laser sawed into six stones. The biggest was the 27-carat stone Heart of Eternity and the second smallest being the 5.16 pear-shaped stone currently up for auction. Mr. Coxon recalls that, "it was the only polished stone from the whole six which was awarded the quality grade of 'Internally Flawless'. The high loss of weight suggested to me that the cutter just kept on polishing until the pear-shape was perfect, but I did not complain as the result was simply stunning."
Rare blue diamonds get their color from the chemical element boron being present during the diamond's formation process of over millions of years. It doesn't happen often and when it does happen stones may have gray or colorless patches within a single piece of rough. Finding stones therefore that shoot true blue brilliance right on through are rare and prized, which is why stones like the Hope Diamond and the Wittelsbach-Graff have become the stuff of history and legend.