Prepare to have your socks knocked off. There’s hardly a museum that doesn’t have some faceted gems on display, but more often they are a part of the exhibits on mineralogy. Why not have these cut stones displayed as art? Just like music or painting, to become a diamond cutter takes training and years of experience. Once in a while, you get to make history. Such is the feeling surrounding Graff Diamond’s Golden Empress.
The diamond was mined at Letšeng diamond mine, once a De Beers operation that is now owned by Gem Diamonds. The Letšeng mine has a solid history of producing many remarkable stones in its nearly 60 year history, including a high percentage of 10 carat plus stones. Their sparkling history includes the 601 carat Lesotho Brown in 1960 and the more recently mined 198 carat white diamond found in 2014. The mine has also produced four of the top 20 largest white diamonds on record. The mining company turned to Laurence Graff for the cutting duties, as Graff Diamonds previous analyzed and cut the Lesotho Promise, a 603 carat white diamond. It took months of painstaking work, but the Promise went on to deliver 26 flawless D colored diamonds.
The stone that would eventually come to be known as the Golden Empress was assessed by a team of experts well versed in the vagaries of cutting large stones. The cushion cut chosen for the principal stone was meant to use the large table to showcase the stone’s depth of color and faceted to provide a mesmerizing sight to whomever looks into its depths. Graff has a history with stunning colored stones, including the 47.39 carat yellow diamond, the Star of Bombay. Graff also is known for making daring repolishings of historic stones such as the Wittlesbach Blue. The skillset and the tools for cutting softer colored diamond are often different from those used on their colorless kin, with the table and the angles for the pavilion and crown facets being precisely calculated to allow maximum light to escape the stone. One false move, and the stone could be rendered worthless.
The 299 carat rough stone is enough to put it in the record books, but in partnership with Graff Diamonds, who has previously cut some of the most famous stones in the world, the Empress also acquired a group of ladies-in-waiting stones. Six pear cut and two brilliant cut stones were also carved from the huge rough, the largest of them a marquise cut weighing in at 21.34 carats. Not to be outdone, the cushion-cut Golden Empress set the bar with a finished weight of 132.55 carats, and a color rated as a Fancy Intense Yellow. As rare as diamonds are, one in ten thousand makes the Fancy Intense grade. The Empress has been set in a necklace of 31 other Fancy Intense yellow diamonds, because when it comes to diamonds of this quality, there is no such idea as too much of a good thing.
For more of Arpège Diamonds' "diamond-ography" see the links below: