Graff's Purplish Red Diamond

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Origin of name

The 2.26-carat rare purplish-red diamond was acquired recently by Laurence Graff, the owner of the internationally renowned London-based  jewelers and diamond dealers Graff Diamonds, at an auction held in Geneva on Thursday, November 15, 2007. The diamond is as yet unnamed, and until such time the diamond is given a name, we can refer to it as the "Graff Purplish Red" diamond, like some other diamonds in his collection as the "Graff Pink Supreme", the "Graff Vivid Yellow", "Graff Imperial Blue" etc.

Characteristics of the diamond

The diamond has a rare purplish-red color, and a weight of 2.26 carats. The cut of the diamond is a brilliant-cut but the shape is an unusual octagonal shape. The exact color and clarity grades of the diamond are not known, but going by the photographs of the diamond its color should be at least a fancy intense purplish-red.

In the list of some known red diamonds the Graff Purplish-Red occupies the 4th position.


List of some known red diamonds


Name of Diamond Carat Weight


1 Moussaieff Red 5.11 traingular-brilliant or trilliant
2 The Red Diamond 5.05 emerald
3 De Young Red 5.03 round brilliant
4 Graff Purplish Red 2.26 octagonal brilliant
5 Unnamed Red 1.92  
6 Hancock Red 0.95 round brilliant
7 The Lady in Red 0.54 round brilliant


The "Graff Purplish-Red" diamond is a rare  structurally imperfect Type IIa diamond. Type IIa diamonds are free of all impurities that can cause color in diamonds such as nitrogen, boron and hydrogen. They are  chemically pure diamonds that constitute about 1-2 % of all naturally occurring diamonds. Type IIa diamonds can be of three sub-types :- a) Structurally perfect  b) Structurally imperfect  c) naturally irradiated.

 a) Structurally perfect :- These diamonds have  perfectly formed crystals without any plastic distortions. Being chemically pure and structurally perfect, these diamonds are absolutely colorless diamonds. D-color diamonds and perhaps E & F color diamonds belong to this sub-type.

b) Structurally imperfect :- These diamonds have crystals that have undergone plastic distortion, either during their formation in the earth's mantle or subsequent rise to the earth's surface during volcanic eruptions. The plastically distorted areas in the crystal change the aborption spectrum of the diamond, causing rare fancy colors, such as red, purple and pink, and  also brown colors. Their occurrence however is less than 0.1 % of all naturally occurring diamonds. The Graff Purplish-Red diamond belongs to this sub-type.

c) Naturally irradiated :- These diamonds have been exposed to natural radiation like alpha, beta and gamma radiation emanating from naturally radioactive sources like uranium compounds, over long periods of time. Radiation induces structural changes in the crystal, imparting a rare green color to diamonds.



Nothing is known about the early history of the diamond, such as the country and mine of origin, date of discovery, weight of rough diamond, identity of the cutters of the diamond, original owner of the diamond etc. South Africa and Brazil are two of the known sources of rare red diamonds. Today Argyle diamond mines of Australia is also a known source of the rare red diamonds. The 0.54-carat "The Lady in Red" diamond originated in the Argyle diamond mines. The intense purplish-red color of the "Graff Purplish-Red" diamond gives an indication as to its possible source. Such intense purplish-red diamonds are characteristic of red diamonds originating in Argyle diamond mines of Australia. But, the weight 2.26 carats does not conform to the size of the average fancy colored diamonds discovered in these mines, which is usually less than 1.0 carat.


The largest red diamond ever to appear at an auction

The diamond was set as the centerpiece of a ring of unique floral design, with four surrounding petals set with several smaller white diamonds. The diamond came up for sale at a Christie's bi-annual magnificent jewels sale held in Geneva on Thursday, November 15th, 2007, and had a pre-sale estimate of $ 1.5 million placed on it. The name of the owners of the diamond was not revealed. It was said that the 2.26-carat diamond was the largest red diamond ever to appear at an auction.


Highest price ever paid for a red diamond at an auction

After a keenly contested bidding process the hammer was brought down finally in favor of an anonymous buyer bidding by phone from London, who seemed to be keen in acquiring the diamond at any cost. The price achieved was a staggering 2.97 million Swiss francs, equivalent to US $ 2,667,567, far above the pre-sale estimate of $ 1.5 million. This represented the highest price ever paid for a red diamond at an auction. The previous record for the highest price paid for a red diamond was set in year 2001, when a 1.92-carat red diamond was sold for $ 1.6 million.


Highest price per carat paid for a red diamond at an auction

The price per carat achieved for the 2.26-carat purplish-red diamond works out to $ 1,180,340. This sets a new world record for the highest price per carat achieved for a red diamond at an auction. The previous record for the highest price per carat paid for a red diamond was held by the 0.95-carat Hancock Red diamond, which was sold in 1987, to agents of the Sultan of Brunei, for $ 880,000 equivalent to $ 926,316 per carat. However the highest price per carat paid for any diamond at an auction is currently held by the unnamed 6.04-carat blue diamond which was purchased by Moussaieff jewelers for $ 7.98 million at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong on October 8, 2007. This works out to a record $ 1.32 million per carat.


The anonymous buyer turns out to be Laurence Graff - the King of Diamonds

It eventually turned out that the anonymous buyer who bid  from London was none other than the "King of Diamonds" Laurence Graff, who is said to have handled more important diamonds than any other living dealer. It was quite possible that he had a particular client in mind when he made this record breaking bid. This client in all probability was the Sultan of Brunei, the world's richest man in the eighties and nineties, to whom Graff had been the main supplier of diamonds and high-end jewelry. It is also well known that the Sultan of Brunei owns the world's largest collection of colored diamonds. In fact in an interview granted to a British newspaper, the Evening Standard on December 7th, 2007, Graff revealed for the first time, that the foundation of his fortune was one huge client, the Sultan of Brunei, one of the world's richest men, who is also a connoisseur and collector of diamonds. The three wives of the 29th Sultan of Brunei have fabulous collections of jewels and jewelry. The first wife who is officially the Queen of Brunei is said to be the world's most gorgeously jeweled woman. Most of this exquisitely crafted jewelry had been supplied by Laurence Graff. Thus the secret of Laurence Graff's success had been undoubtedly the patronage of the Sultan of Brunei and his three wives. Thanks to the Sultan, Laurence Graff is today the 36th richest man in Britain, owning five luxury homes in England, France, Switzerland and New York, a private jet that reaches Tokyo from London non-stop, a Mediterranean yacht, his own diamond mine outside Johannesburg, half a dozen properties in Mayfair, and a clientele that includes several royal families around the world. 


The rarity of occurrence of red diamonds

Out of all fancy colored diamonds such as red, purple, pink, blue, green. orange and yellow, red diamonds are the rarest in occurrence. Within the last 20 years only three red diamonds had appeared in diamond auctions worldwide. This is an indisputable statistical evidence for the rarity of the red diamond. It is said that the number of diamonds certified as red existing in the world today is less than 20. Thus seeing a red diamond in public is an extremely rare event, let alone being available for sale.

It is difficult to quantify the frequency of occurrence of red diamonds in nature, but using the annual statistics of production of fancy colored diamonds in the Argyle diamond mines in Western Australia, we can arrive at a rough estimate. In the Argyle mines only one carat of pink diamond is produced for every one million carats of rough diamonds. Thus the probability of occurrence of pink diamonds is one in a million - 1/1,000,000. In one particular year the Argyle mines produced 60 pink diamonds having an average size of one carat, out of which one diamond was an intense purplish-red diamond. The probability of occurrence of red diamonds out of the total production of pink diamonds is 1/60. Thus the probability of occurrence of red diamonds out of the total annual production of rough diamonds in the mine is equal to 1/60 x 1/1,000,000. This works out to 1/60,000,000. Thus the chance or probability of finding a red diamond  is one in 60 million, equivalent to 0. 0000017 % !!!

The rarity of red diamonds seems to be combined with the restricted size of the diamond. The world's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd largest red diamonds the "Moussaieff Red", the "Red Diamond" and the "De Young Red" weighs respectively 5.11 carats, 5.05 carats and 5.03 carats. In comparison the world's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, largest colorless diamonds, the "Cullinan I", the "Cullinan II" and the "Centenary" weighs respectively 530.20 carats, 317.40 carats, and 273.85 carats.

The combined characteristics of rarity and beauty make red diamonds the most expensive of all diamonds  in the world, and explains the staggering price achieved by the 2.26-carat Graff's purplish-red diamond, which is insignificant in terms of size. The Graff's purplish-red diamond is insignificant in terms of size, yet it has the potential of becoming one of the most famous diamonds in the world, just because it is red, one of the rarest fancy colors in diamonds.


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Dr Shihaan Larif
Founder Internet Stones.COM



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