What a beautiful gem! We are so glad that so many people will have the opportunity to view such a fabulous stone.
By Anthony DeMarco
Blue diamonds are among the rarest gems in the world. But all blues are not created equal and even in this rarified category a few stand out. On Friday I had the privilege of seeing such a gem up close.
Appropriately named the “Blue Moon” (as in “once in a blue moon”), the diamond will make its first and likely only public appearance at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in an exhibition from September 13 – January 6.
What separates this diamond from so many of its peers is its color saturation and shade, its clarity and its size. The 12-carat cushion-cut diamond has been given a color grading of “fancy vivid” with an “internally flawless” clarity grading from the Gemological Institute of America.
In addition, its color was further tested under ultraviolet light by the Smithsonian Institution under the supervision of Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem and Mineral Collection. The trace element Boron within the carbon structure of the stone is responsible for the color of a blue diamond. Boron also produces a unique phosphorescent red glow under ultraviolet light.
Under ultraviolet light testing the gem produced an orangey-red glow for 20 seconds, longer than most blue diamonds, showing that the blue in the Blue Moon diamond is true and saturated throughout the stone with no other colors—such as grey, which is common for blue diamonds, said Suzette Gomes, CEO of Cora International, a diamonds and jewels manufacturer known for working with statement diamonds. Also, blue diamonds are known to exhibit a blue-green glow under ultraviolet light.
“That for us was a big thing because it gives you the purity of the diamond,” Gomes said on the other side of a desk with the Blue Moon between us on a grey felt tray inside Cora’s office in New York. “Other blues also glow phosphor red but it doesn’t last as long.”
There is no one more excited about this gem than Gomes who has called the Blue Moon her career highlight and a privilege to work with. Few have spent more time with the gem as well.
“The fact that you could buy it rough, plan it and cut it is special,” she said. “This is a billion years old and it’s going to be here long after we’re gone. That’s the beauty of diamonds.”
The Blue Moon was produced from a 29.62-carat rough diamond unearthed at the Cullinan mine in South Africa in January. The mine is known for producing the most blue diamonds in the world but these gems still only account for 0.1 percent of its total diamond output, Gomes said. As mentioned earlier, its clarity and color makes the gem even rarer.
Cora acquired the rough for approximately $26 million in February and went right to work, finishing the piece only three weeks ago. All of the testing results from the Smithsonian and GIA were not completed as of Friday.
The fact that the origin of the diamond is known makes this special as well, Gomes said.
“A lot of time with diamonds you don’t know what the origin is,” she said. “Someone has a one-carat vivid blue that their grandmother had and nobody knows where it came from.”
Sitting flat on a gray pad under normal office lighting didn’t provide the best view of the diamond but its shade of blue is unmistakable. Unlike the Hope Diamond, which has a blue that is deep, dark and rich, the Blue Moon is closer to an aqua blue. Gomes refers to it as “ocean blue.” In fact, the facets appear as if they are wavelets on water. Finally, it’s transparent. You can see clear through the diamond. So picture a clear-blue lake with sunlight dancing on its rippled surface and that comes close to the color of the Blue Moon.
Gomes said the cushion cut makes it most ideal to be used as a brooch or a ring, although she would display it on a wall as art. She refuses to discuss its value and will not compare it to other stones. But it’s my job to do so. The largest known fancy vivid, flawless diamond (slightly higher than the IF clarity grade the Blue Moon received) is a pear-shaped, 13.22-carat stone purchased by the Harry Winston luxury jewelry brand for $23.8 million at Christie’s Geneva in April. Renamed the “Winston Blue,” the nearly $1.8 million-per-carat price paid is a world record for a blue diamond.
Gomes said she would rather focus on getting the Blue Moon to L.A. for the exhibition at the Natural History Museum.
“We just want to get through the exhibition in the hope that it raises its profile,” she said. “I want to help them. What they do is awesome and they always struggle for money. They need funding and this will raise their profile too so it’s good for everyone.”