17th Century Pink Diamond From the French Crown Jewels Hits the Auction Block at Christie’s Geneva in November

“Le Grand Mazarin,” the legendary 19.07-carat pink diamond that was once part of the French Crown Jewels, is expected to fetch between $6 million and $9 million at Christie’s Geneva on November 14.

The magnificent square-cut stone has been in the collection of four kings, four queens, two emperors and two empresses, starting with the Sun King, Louis XIV, in 1661. Le Grand Mazarin was one of the many treasures sold at the famous auction of the French Crown Jewels in 1887.

Christie’s Europe and Asia Chairman Francois Curiel called Le Grand Mazarin “the diamond with the most prestigious and historic provenance still to be in private hands.”

Sourced at the Golconda mines, on India’s Deccan plateau, Le Grand Mazarin is named for Cardinal Jules Mazarin, who served as the Chief Minister to Kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Toward the end of his life, Mazarin assembled a collection of 18 exceptional gems that were said to be among the most beautiful jewels on the continent. Many were purchased from the royal families of Europe.

Of the 18 gems, eight were square-cut diamonds, the largest of which was named Le Grand Mazarin. Mazarin’s collection became part of the French Crown Jewels and would remain in the possession of the French royal family for more than 225 years. Upon the cardinal’s death in 1661, Le Grand Mazarin was bequeathed to King Louis XIV. At the time, the French ruler was just 23 years old.

The first person to wear Le Grand Mazarin was likely Louis’ wife, Maria Theresa of Austria. According to Christie’s, after Maria Theresa’s death, Louis XIV added the Grand Mazarin to his “chain of diamonds,” set in descending size order, on which it remained for many years.

In the late 1700s, 30 men broke into the royal treasury at the Garde-Meuble in Paris and stole the French Crown Jewels, including Le Grand Mazarin. Most of the thieves were eventually caught and sentenced to death, but their spoils were never recovered. One thief, however, begged to be spared. His portion of the spoils included Le Grand Mazarin and, in exchange for his life, he promised to return Le Grand Mazarin to the French authorities.

In 1810, Emperor Napoleon ordered jeweler François-Regnault Nitot to create a magnificent set of diamond jewelry for his wife, Marie-Louise. The set included a crown, diadem, necklace, comb, earrings, bracelets, belt and more. The diadem was set with the most beautiful of the crown diamonds, including Le Grand Mazarin.

Prestigious French jeweler Frédéric BoucheronIn purchased Le Grand Mazarin during the famous sale of the French Crown Jewels in May of 1887.

In 1962, the Louvre sponsored a presentation of the most important jewels ever produced in France. Listed as item #22 of the exhibition was Le Grand Mazarin. The gem would remain out of the public spotlight for the next 55 years.

Le Grand Mazarin just completed a two-day exhibition at Christie’s London and will be seen next at Christie’s New York on November 6 and 7. The gem returns to Geneva for a pre-sale exhibition starting November 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues. Le Grand Mazarin will be offered for sale during Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva on the evening of November 14.

Credits: Gem images courtesy of Christie’s. Portrait of Cardinal Jules Mazarin by Pierre Mignard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


Music Friday: ‘Diamond Ring’ Tells the World ‘I’m Your Only Man,’ Sings Jon Bon Jovi

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you outstanding songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora perform a beautiful acoustic version of “Diamond Ring,” a ballad they co-wrote with Desmond Child in 1988.

Featuring romantic lyrics, soaring harmonies and a memorable acoustic guitar solo by Sambora, “Diamond Ring” tells the story of a man who is head-over-heels in love and wants the world to know. The song’s title symbolizes the ultimate commitment from a man who wants to be her “everything.”

They sing, “Diamond ring, wear it on your hand / It’s gonna tell the world, I’m your only man / Diamond ring, diamond ring / Baby, you’re my everything, diamond ring.”

During a 1995 concert, Bon Jovi told fans that “Diamond Ring” was one of his favorite collaborations with Sambora, but also recounted how it was the only song the duo ever “rewrote and rewrote and rewrote.” “Diamond Ring” was originally intended to be released on the group’s 1988 album New Jersey, but didn’t quite make it. Then it was reworked and recorded to appear on 1992’s Keep the Faith. Again, it didn’t quite make it. Finally, the song was perfected and released as the 14th track of 1995’s These Days.

Despite its official release in 1995, “Diamond Ring” was played live six times during Bon Jovi’s “New Jersey Syndicate Tour,” which ran from October 1988 to February 1990.

Many critics and fans believe These Days is Bon Jovi’s best album. It charted in 21 countries, including #1 spots in Australia, Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The album sold more than one million copies in the U.S., peaking at #9 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Bon Jovi formed the group that bears his name in 1983. Over the past 34-plus years, Bon Jovi has sold more than 100 million records and performed more than 2,700 concerts in 50 countries. Bon Jovi and Sambora were inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.

Please check out Bon Jovi and Sambora wowing a live audience during an inspired performance of “Diamond Ring.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Diamond Ring”
Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Richard Sambora. Performed by Jon Bon Jovi and Richard Sambora.

Diamond ring, wear it on your hand
It’s gonna tell the world, I’m your only man
Diamond ring, diamond ring
Baby, you’re my everything, diamond ring

Red, red rose brought it home to you
Blood red rose, tells me that you’re true
Red, red rose, blood-red rose
Like a fire inside that grows, blood-red rose

When you’re hungry, I will fill you up
When you’re thirsty, drink out of my loving cup
When you’re crying, I’ll be the tears for you
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for you

When you’re hungry, I will fill you up
When you’re thirsty, drink out of my loving cup
When you’re crying, I’ll be the tears for you
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for you

You know, I bleed every night you sleep
‘Cause I don’t know if I’m in your dreams
I want to be your everything…

Diamond ring, wear it on your hand
It’s gonna tell the world, I’m your only man
Diamond ring, diamond ring
Baby, you’re my everything, diamond ring
Darling, you’re my everything, diamond ring
Now, you’ve got me on your string… Diamond ring

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.

Couple Loses Home to California Wildfires, But Finds Precious Symbols of Hope Under the Charred Rubble

Kris Pond cried uncontrollably as she surveyed the still-smoking rubble on the property where her home once stood. Her Santa Rosa residence was one of nearly 6,000 obliterated by the catastrophic wildfires that have been tearing through Northern California since October 8.

An ABC News crew caught up with Pond and her husband, Mike, as they searched the ashes for her most beloved possession — a diamond engagement ring.

Despite the dangerous conditions, reporter Matt Gutman assisted the couple for more than an hour in what he termed an “exhaustive archaeological dig.” Her shoes melted and the reporter’s hands burned, but still they came up empty.

Gutman filed his heartbreaking report about the couple, but then was surprised to get a call from a cheerful Mike the next day.

Kris and Mike hadn’t given up their search. They had returned to the site and found not only the elusive engagement ring, but also a second diamond ring that had been gifted to them by an uncle.

Gutman was able to deliver the good news during his in-depth followup report for ABC’s Nightline.

The Ponds told ABC News that they are thankful for the help and kindness they have received during this difficult time. What’s more, the unlikely discovery of the diamond rings offered a much-needed symbol of hope as they look to rebuild their lives.

The Northern California wildfires are some of the deadliest in California’s history. More than 40 lives have been lost and 30,000 people are still evacuated from their homes.

Credits: Screen captures via ABCNews.go.com.

Astronomers Witness the Birth of $100 Octillion Worth of Gold as Neutron Stars Collide in Space

Thousands of astronomers from around the globe joined together on Monday to confirm the first-ever sighting of two neutron stars colliding in space. In just one second, the “kilonova” generated the equivalent of 50 Earth masses of silver, 100 Earth masses of gold and 500 Earth masses of platinum.

The gold alone is estimated to be worth more than $100 octillion. That’s $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 followed by 29 zeroes).

The collision, which was detected on August 17, settles the long-standing mystery of how rare precious metals and other “heavy” elements are formed.

“We already knew that iron came from a stellar explosion, the calcium in your bones came from stars, and now we know the gold in your wedding ring came from merging neutron stars,” University of California Santa Cruz’s Ryan Foley told the Associated Press.

Scientists described a scenario in which two ultra-dense neutron stars spiral around each other, moving closer and closer, until they eventually merge in a violent eruption. The material blasted into space contains a variety of heavy elements that are formed through a chain of nuclear reactions know as the “r-process.”

After the first detection, astronomers from around the world were alerted and each of them pointed telescopes at the scene to record the visible light, radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays. Their equipment identified massive amounts of platinum, gold and silver.

“You smash these two things together at one-third the speed of light, and that’s how you make gold,” Duncan Brown, an astronomer at Syracuse University and a member of the research collaboration, told Business Insider.

The smashup took place 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.

Scientists had postulated for years that precious metals were likely forged by the clash of neutron stars, which are the ultra-dense cores of aged stars. A single teaspoon of this neutron-rich material is estimated to weigh roughly one billion tons.

In the two months following the neutron star collision, astronomers from around the world teamed up to make sense of the event, which some have called the “discovery of the century.” The resulting research study lists 4,000 authors representing 910 institutions.

Scientists believe that neutron star mergers in our galaxy take place about once every 100,000 years. Because astronomers worldwide are listening to millions of galaxies, they expect to identify a few spectacular collisions per year.

Credit: Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science.

Mike Diamond Finds Fiancée’s 3-Carat Diamond Engagement Ring at Waste Facility in New Jersey

New York City bride-to-be Ashlee Palacio is a creature of habit. Every night, she follows the same bedtime routine and places her beloved three-carat emerald-cut diamond engagement ring in a special tray on her nightstand.

But, last Monday, Palacio broke her routine and fell asleep on the opposite side of her bed — with her engagement ring still on her finger.

In the middle of the night, half asleep, Palacio slipped the ring off and placed it on a night table amidst a bunch of Starburst candy wrappers.

On Tuesday morning, she slid the mess from her night table into a plastic white garbage bag and placed it in the trash.

When Palacio realized that her ring was gone, she called her fiancé, Mike Diamond (great name for this story), and told him she was sure the ring had accidentally ended up in the garbage.

“My first reaction was, ‘Are you kidding?!’” Diamond told CBS New York. “I thought she was joking around with me.”

To make matters worse, the garbage already had been picked up and was on its way to the dump.

Diamond quickly called the authorities at the NYC Department of Sanitation, who were able to identify the truck that serviced Palacio’s neighborhood.

“As soon as they get the phone call, they freeze the truck so it can’t dump,” Department of Sanitation supervisor Louis Guglielmetti told CBS New York.

Guglielmetti diverted the truck to a waste transfer facility in New Jersey, where Diamond and a friend were invited to don hazmat suits and pick through very stinky garbage bags. Luckily, Palacio’s building was the last one on the truck’s route, so her white plastic bag with the black tie was expected to be one of the first to get unloaded from the truck.

“The truck came in and just dumped over a hundred bags just on the floor… I thought it was going to be impossible to find,” Diamond said.

Diamond and the friend had a few clues, however. They were looking for the candy wrappers and a Halloween cookie box.

Palacio, who was stuck at work during the drama, was kept up to date via Snapchat messages.

Within 15 minutes, Diamond had located the right bag. When he ripped it open, he saw the remnants of the Halloween treats and the shimmering diamond.

“I happened to see something glowing, and I said, ‘You know, I think that’s it!’” Diamond told CBS New York.

Palacio received the great news via Snapchat.

“It’s them saying, ‘That’s the ring!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’ I’m like hysterical crying,” Palacio said.

Palacio told CBS New York that she is eternally grateful to her fiancé, the New York City Sanitation Department and everyone who went above and beyond to recover her ring.

Credits: Screen captures via CBS New York.

World’s Largest Fancy Intense Pink Diamond Hits the Auction Block in Geneva Next Month

All eyes will be on the “Raj Pink,” the world’s largest known fancy intense pink diamond, when it hits the auction block at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on November 15. The exceptional 37.30-carat, cushion-modified, brilliant-cut gem is estimated to fetch between $20 million and $30 million — but could yield much more.

The current record holder for a fancy intense pink diamond is the 24.78-carat “Graff Pink,” which sold for more than $46.1 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November of 2010. The rectangular-cut Graff Pink, which carries a clarity grade of VVS2, netted $1.86 million per carat.

The Raj Pink has a slightly lower clarity grade of VS1, but weighs 12.52 carats more than the Graff Pink. Sotheby’s high estimate for the Raj Pink sets the per-carat price at $804,000, or less than half of what the Graff Pink earned per carat.

Auction watchers believe that the Raj Pink has the potential to crush the pre-sale estimates. The owner of the Raj Pink has chosen to remain anonymous.

“The discovery of any pink diamond is exceptional,” noted David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, “but the Raj Pink’s remarkable size and intensity of color places it in the rarefied company of the most important pink diamonds known.”

Discovered in 2015, the rough diamond that yielded the Raj Pink was studied for more than a year. It was then entrusted to a master cutter, who crafted it into an exceptional cushion-modified, brilliant-cut polished diamond.

The Gemological Institute of America characterized the Raj Pink as an “astonishing stone” and described its hue as “a very bright and ravishing fancy intense pink color.” The GIA also noted that it is rare for a diamond of such considerable weight to display such a “strong, unmodified pink color.”

Of all diamonds submitted to the GIA each year, less than 0.02% are predominantly pink.

The Raj Pink will be on tour — along with other highlighted lots — during the weeks leading up to the November 15 auction. The exhibition will make stops in London (Oct. 13-17), Singapore (Oct. 20-21), Hong Kong (Oct. 23-24), Taiwan (Oct. 26-27), New York (Nov. 3-4) and Geneva (Nov. 11-15).

Credit: Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Music Friday: Styx Frontman Dennis DeYoung Seeks a Pot of Gold in the 1977 Power Ballad ‘Come Sail Away’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Styx lead singer Dennis DeYoung searches for a pot of gold in the classic 1977 hit, “Come Sail Away.”

An inspirational song about following one’s dreams no matter how challenging the journey may be, “Come Sail Away” starts as a sweet ballad and then transitions into a powerful rock and roll anthem.

DeYoung sings, “We live happily forever so the story goes / But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold / But we’ll try best that we can to carry on.”

The lead singer revealed years later that he wrote the song to provide some inspiration to “carry on” during a down time in his life. Styx had achieved commercial success with 1973’s “Lady,” but then fell flat with its next two albums, Equinox (1975) and Crystal Ball (1976). He was hoping that “Come Sail Away” and the Grand Illusion album would turn their luck around. Up until that point, the band was an opening act, never the headliner.

Powered by the tremendous success of “Come Sail Away,” Grand Illusion became the band’s breakthrough album. It sold more than three million copies and set the stage for a run of four consecutive multi-platinum albums and 16 top-40 singles in the US. “Come Sail Away” charted at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, 40 years later, is still one of the band’s signature songs.

Formed in Chicago in 1972, Styx borrows its name from a mythological river that forms the boundary between Earth and the underworld. DeYoung revealed that after debating hundreds of options, the band members agreed on “Styx,” because it was the only name no one in the group hated.

Styx continues to “carry on” with an active tour schedule that will see the band appearing over the next few months in Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Ontario.

Please check out the video of Styx performing “Come Sail Away.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Come Sail Away”
Written by Dennis DeYoung. Performed by Styx.

I’m sailing away set an open course for the virgin sea
I’ve got to be free free to face the life that’s ahead of me
On board I’m the captain so climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I’ll try oh Lord I’ll try to carry on

I look to the sea reflections in the waves spark my memory
Some happy some sad
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had
We live happily forever so the story goes
But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold
But we’ll try best that we can to carry on

A gathering of angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said
They said come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me

I thought that they were angels but to my surprise
They climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies
Singing, come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away come sail away
Come sail away with me

Credit: Image by Ralph Arvesen [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Sierra Leone’s Lucky Pastor and His 706-Carat Diamond Travel to Antwerp in Search of a Buyer With Deep Pockets

Back in March, we recounted the amazing story of pastor and part-time miner Emmanuel Momoh, who extracted a 706-carat diamond from the sediment of a Sierra Leone riverbed using his bare hands and a sieve.

The shimmering yellowish specimen, which is slightly smaller than a hockey puck, is considered to be one of the 20 largest rough diamonds ever recorded.

As is required by Sierra Leone law, Momoh handed his lucky find over to the government and will be entitled to a portion of the final sale. But when the government put the diamond up for bid this past May, the highest offer of $7.7 million failed to meet the undisclosed reserve price.

Now, the 39-year-old pastor and a contingent from Sierra Leone’s National Minerals Agency are visiting the international diamond center of Antwerp, Belgium, in search of a suitable buyer with deeper pockets. The team from Sierra Leone was set to meet with sales agents, auction houses and potential buyers.

“I’m expecting not less than $50 million from the diamond,” Momoh told Agence France Presse.

The recent sales of two mammoth diamonds may offer a hint as to what Momoh’s diamond will fetch on the international market.

Just last month, the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona — the second-largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found — was sold to British billionaire and diamantaire Laurence Graff for $53 million. In May of 2016, the 813-carat diamond named Constellation sold for $63 million.

The government’s portion of the proceeds is earmarked to fund development projects throughout Sierra Leone.

Momoh discovered the 706-carat diamond along a river in the diamond-rich area of Kono. While diamonds are usually found within kimberlite pipes, over time, the pipes can be eroded by rivers and the diamonds will be washed downstream. It is extraordinarily rare to find an alluvial diamond that weighs hundreds of carats.

Credits: Video screen captures via YouTube.com.

Gem-Filled Pods Make These Reusable Water Bottles Truly Unique

The practice of using gemstones to vitalize water dates back to ancient Greece. The energy emitted from opals, garnets, emeralds, amethysts, quartz or even diamond slivers can boost water’s alkalinity and oxygenation, and some believe the gems have the ability to infuse H2O with their own unique properties and characteristics.

Because of the impractical nature of dropping loose stones into a water glass or other container, Germany-based VitaJuwel devised an elegantly designed water bottle that contains a removable glass pod filled with an assortment of gemstones.

According to the company, “the gems inside VitaJuwel vials transfer their energy to the water that surrounds the vial improving the water’s vitalization level.”

Interestingly, the gem-filled glass pods are completely sealed and the gems never come in contact with the water. The benefits come from the subtle radiation of the gems, according to the company’s website. The effect is similar to that of sun rays, magnetic rays or microwaves — radiation waves that can pass through glass. The company points to scientific evidence that the pods do, in fact, add alkalinity and oxygenation to the water in which they are submerged.

Each of the 18 interchangeable pods contains a unique combinations of gems, and each has a name that gives a clue to its potential health benefit.

For instance, “Wellness” contains a mix of amethyst, rose quartz and clear quartz. VitaJuwel claims that this blend aims to stimulate and soothe the mind and emotions, foster tranquility and support healthy and radiant skin.

“Fitness,” which contains red jasper, magnesite and clear quartz, is said to promote physical endurance, detoxify and distribute energy throughout the body.

“Sunny Morning” has a bright mix of orange calcite and clear quartz. This blend promises to alleviate chronic fatigue and supports healthy hair, skin and nails, according the company.

Even if you’re skeptical about the feel-good effects of gemstone-infused water, there is no denying that the gem-adorned VitaJuwel water bottles offer a beautiful and unique way to stay hydrated.

They are sold and distributed in the U.S. by Gem-Water.com and range in price from $78 to $340. Other products in the line include glass decanters, droplets and wands.

Credits: Images via gem-water.com.

888-Carat ‘Star of Jolie’ Is the Largest Gem-Quality Star Sapphire in the World

Carrying an asking price of $5 million, the recently revealed “Star of Jolie” weighs 888.88 carats and is said to be the largest gem-quality star sapphire in the world.

The pear-shaped, double-cabochon black star sapphire, which is named for actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, made its debut last week when jewelry designer Robert Procop unveiled it at a press event in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The sapphire hangs as a pendant from an 18-karat rose gold necklace punctuated by 70 additional black star sapphires weighing a total of 104.42 carats.

The 888.88-carat Star of Jolie was cut from a 1,113-carat rough gem that had been discovered in Queensland, Australia, in 1937. The rough sapphire had been owned by Beverly Hills-based gem dealer James Kazanjian and eventually sold to Procop by James’ son, Michael, in 2011.

The unique optical phenomenon responsible for the shimmering rays of a star sapphire is called asterism. The word is derived from the Latin word “astrum,” for “star.”

According to the Smithsonian, the asterism is actually caused by titanium trapped in the corundum while the crystal is forming. As the crystal cools, the titanium orients itself as needle-like structures in three directions. The cabochon cut’s smooth, rounded surface allows the light to reflect off the titanium, revealing a six-legged star.

All the proceeds from the sale of the Star of Jolie will be dedicated to EPCC: Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, the non-profit organization Jolie founded in 2006 to build schools for children in conflict-affected regions of the world. The school she established in war-torn Afghanistan in 2013 educates 200 to 300 girls each year.

The Star of Jolie will be on temporary display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., starting in December.

Credits: Jewelry images courtesy of Robert Procop. Angelina Jolie image by Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.