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Sparkling Koi Diamond, the ultimate embodiment of Japanese legend and tradition

17 Comments
By Phil Butler

Sitting in a vault in Antwerp, the 32+ carat Koi Diamond is one of the world’s most unique large gems. Big and beautiful as it is, the miraculous stories surrounding this fabulous diamond are at least as marvelous as the transformative koi fish it resembles. And now the people who have brought the Koi Diamond to life, are as determined as the ancient people of Niigata, who bred the first colored koi fish.

Discovered in the Congo a little over a decade ago, the Koi Diamond’s journey into being is, as they say, the stuff of legend and fairy tales.

When the owners of the Koi Diamond, Rawstone Business Holding, asked the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to evaluate and grade their magnificent find, the world’s most renowned gem experts were literally set aback. Even the society’s most experienced experts had no benchmark for grading a diamond so unique. The pear shaped gem is not only cut to resemble the koi fish of Japanese legend: the color and included character of the stone make it even more aptly named.

When this fancy diamond was first discovered it weighed over 60 carats, but its multiplicity of flaws and strange color gradation really relegated it to be carved into bits and pieces of so-called industrial diamond material. However, a chance in a billion akin to that fabled koi fish surviving a harsh winter to save the local families of Niigata occurred just at the right moment. The artistic eye of a gem cutter caught a glimmer of something special inside that chunk of colored carbon – and the koi fish "trapped" inside was set free, and transformed into a Koi Diamond. And this is just the beginning of the diamond’s story.

Unable to classify the gem, GIA’s Thomas Moses called in a long time friend and colleague, Eddy Elzas, the “King of Colored Diamonds” (see photo below). Elzas himself, is, by his own recollecting “living in a fairytale existence”, as he told me over the phone the other day. Why a “fairytale”, you ask? A self-professed “Super-Jew”, Elzas was born of miraculous circumstance, not unlike the diamond we speak of. Fatherless, Eddy’s mother gave birth to him beneath a boxcar in Nazi occupied France in 1942. The 71 year old recounts his upbringing and education without a hint of melancholy, but when he turns to discussing fancy, colored diamonds?

Well, Eddy adores fancy diamonds, maybe that’s why he owns the world’s largest, most famous, and most valuable collection of them. The Rainbow Collection is Elzas’ pride and joy (outside his family that is), but when I asked about the Koi Diamond, the childlike wonder and lust for beautiful crystalline things rang true in his voice. Six continents and 20,000 flight hours to evaluate the world’s most fabulous gems professionally, and Elzas got giddy over maybe the world’s most unique diamond ever.

By now you should have visually pieced together the symbiosis going on with the Koi Diamond. In essence, the same way the koi fish has a symbiotic relationship in between the cosmos, the fates, the animal kingdom, and the legacy of human beings, so too that cool bit of rock locked away in Antwerp seems to affect everyone and everything it touches. Or maybe the story is the other way around?

© Japan Today

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17 Comments
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It has artistic value because of the skill of the gem-cutter, but the stone itself is nearly worthless.

-2 ( +3 / -4 )

It looks absolutely stunning! And the story behind it completely justifies its fame, regardless of its material value

1 ( +2 / -1 )

As a matter of fact, it is very expensive... I am not an expert, but that's 32+ carat, certified by GIA. That means it can get a whopping price if they ever decide to sell it. See information how carat is calculated below:

Diamonds are often valued (and usually priced) on a per carat basis. Thus, a one half carat diamond that has a total value of $1,000 USD, will be said to have a per carat value of $2,000 USD. A 1.50 carat diamond for sale in a jewelry store that is priced at $5,000 USD per carat will cost you $7,500 USD to purchase. While you might expect larger carat weight diamonds to be more valuable, the increase in value is often quite surprising; increasing the weight by 100% sometimes increases the value by almost 400%. Certain carat weights are more highly favored than others. There is a significant increase in value for a diamond that has a carat weight that is exactly at or greater than .25, .33, .50, .75, 1.00, 1.25, 1.50, 1.75, 2.00 (or other higher multiple of .50 carat weight, as compared to a diamond that is less than such carat weight. For example, a diamond that with a .95 carat weight may sell for $11,000 USD per carat, but an equivalent diamond (one that only differs in carat weight) of 1.00 carat weight will sell for $12,000 USD per carat.

(from http://www.diamondpriceinfo.com/Archive_doc.cfm?article=Carat_Weight.html )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh, wow, that' adds up to quite a whooping amount of money :D You wither buy the Koi Diamond or your own private island :D Still, I think the story behind it and its uniqueness add a lot more to its notoriety than the actual price tag, at least as long as it's not for sale

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Quote: "the world’s most unique diamond " LOL.

We used to get marked down at school for this. "Poor English", the teacher said. "Something is unique (= one of a kind) or not unique, and there are no 'more' or 'lesser' degrees of uniqueness", he told us firmly. This diamond is unique, I would agree.

As to value, this is a fancily-written article, yes, but the stone may only fetch a real price once people start making offers for it.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"but the stone may only fetch a real price once people start making offers for it" - duh, it changed hands twice already! From the original owner, to its new owners, after Elzas (someone who actually knows colored diamonds) classified it. I believe it already fetched a price - if someone could only tell us how much!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

OK Mihaela, ya got me.

Still, I agree with Frungy that a diamond only has worth in relation to what people are willing to pay for it. In itself, worthless, as he says. At the moment a price is paid by someone, its provenance is established. An interesting object, nevertheless. ;-)

How much do you think it is worth? 100,000 US?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

nandakandamanda, I am not sure what your point is. Obviously anything is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it....... to an extent though. Clearly we are speculating, however speculating with evidence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-22167514 isn't the above diamond rarer than this one? Also we have a blue diamond sold here http://news.discovery.com/earth/rocks-fossils/blue-diamond-record-price-130426.htm and again isn't this less rare and much smaller. The evidence from the diamonds sold seem to be in line with this article. I should be careful in hiring you to sell my Real Estate, what are you going to tell potential clients? "Make an offer for $5 he will have to take it because that is what you are looking to pay"? "It is only going to be worth as much as someone wants to pay for it after all, I mean who ever heard of market forces"?????

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am from India, home of many of the world’s most valuable colored diamonds, so this story is of particular import for me. A recent press release revealed the head of jewelry at Christie’s Americas and Switzerland as commenting on fancy stones: “Over the last ten years, Fancy Color Diamonds have jumped ten fold. What was $100,000 to $300,000 per carat, can now be worth $1.7 million to $2.0 million per carat or more.” Given what the author said, and Mr. Elzas’ suggested expertise, plus the fact the GIA’s inability to appraise the stone without such an expert, it seems logical to assume this rare gem may be worth in excess of $70 million. Of course this depends on what a prospective buyer is willing to pay.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Bought from the exploited of the Congo,peddled by a Jew and made into a fabled object by the Japanese..... fable-it gets a 10 on my BS meter....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Carbon, one of the most abundant substance on this planet and diamond are crystallized carbon. Now a days a clear colorless diamond can be created in a lab due to advance in technology.

Colored diamonds are created due to impurity within the crystal which is still not replicated.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Mihaela Lica ButlerMay. 19, 2013 - 05:23PM JST As a matter of fact, it is very expensive... I am not an expert, but that's 32+ carat, certified by GIA. That means it can get a whopping price if they ever decide to sell it. See information how carat is calculated below: Thus, a one half carat diamond that has a total value of $1,000 USD, will be said to have a per carat value of $2,000 USD.

With all due respect, the article says:

its multiplicity of flaws and strange color gradation really relegated it to be carved into bits and pieces of so-called industrial diamond material.

Industrial diamond goes for about $7 to $10 per carat. Given that industrial applications require pure diamond the actual carat amount would be much lower as pieces of the stone with high contamination of other minerals would be unusable for industrial purposes. Being generous this diamond is worth maximum $350 for its MATERIAL value.

As I stated before, the value of the stone comes from its artistic value. The manner in which the diamond (an extremely difficult material to work with) has been cut.

Your argument, displays a basic lack of understanding of gemstones. Precise chemical composition is what separates a priceless ruby (Al2O3) from a worthless garnet (Al2O3 with some other trace elements, like iron or copper).

These are the facts.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This diamond has quite a story – and it seems to be really valuable – judging by the number of carats and the fact that it has already switched owners. I’m sure the story is really important in the context, as well as the experts’ evaluation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the value of this diamond growing in time.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Hmm, I see......wow

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hi All,

First off, the author clearly points out the "industrial diamond" aspect as "before" the gem cutter extracted the current gem. Secondly, the transience of all three of these subjects is what the story is about. Not much is really said about value. Finally, the stone is clearly special as such specialized experts are called in etc. Every time an author writes, I suppose even the most juvenile of them expect or pre-suppose the ability of others to read. With this in mind I paste an excerpt from a gemological article of a type.

"Not all diamond imperfections have a negative impact on its market value. Diamonds can also create eye catching and pleasing flaws within its character. Minerals that were trapped during the natural processes of the diamond formation can cause imperfections. These various minerals or crystals can give the diamond a hue of yellow to brown, green, and pink, or blue like in the case of the infamous Hope Diamond.

In rare instances, another precious gemstone can be found inside the diamond, and is not seen or graded as an imperfection flaw. Diamonds have been recovered that had another valuable carbon based gemstone embedded inside of the diamond. In which case, the diamond would take on an extremely rare characteristic and would be graded highly by the jeweler in respect to market value."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The diamond looks fabulous and, while I'm no expert, I'm sure I've never seen nor heard of something similar before. It's fantastic how the gem cutter saw the shape of the koi fish inside the stone an managed to transform it into such a beautiful piece of art.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Well done to the super-jew (his term not mine) who cut this beautiful gem. Looks more like an opal in the pic, though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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