Korloff Noir Diamond

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Origin of name

The origin of the 88-carat black Korloff Noir diamond is shrouded in mystery, but according to legend seems to have originated in Russia, and owned by several generations of the Karloff-Sapozhnikov family, from whom the diamond gets its name. The present owners of the diamond are the Korloff Jewelers of France, founded in 1978, who took the name of their company from the diamond.

The Korloff Noir is an 88-carat, round-cut, black diamond, with the standard 57 facets. In the list of famous black diamonds the Korloff Noir occupies the 5th position

The Korloff Noir is an 88-carat, round-cut, black diamond, with the standard 57 facets. In the list of famous black diamonds the Korloff Noir occupies the 5th position.

Characteristics of the diamond

The Korloff Noir is an 88-carat, round-cut,  black diamond, with the standard 57 facets. In the list of famous black diamonds the Korloff Noir occupies the 5th position. See table below.


Korloff Noir U-Tube

Black diamonds also known as Carbonado are different from conventional diamonds in respect of origin, structure, composition, and also distribution. A comparison of the characteristics of the two types of diamonds are given below.

List of famous black diamonds


Name carat weight


1 The Spirit of Grisogono 312.24 old moghul-cut
2 The Black Star of Africa 202.00  
3 The Table of Islam 160.18 emerald-cut
4 The Gruosi diamond 115.34 heart-shaped
5 The Korloff Noir 88.00 standard round-cut
6 The Black Orlov 67.50 cushion-cut
7 The Amsterdam 33.74 pear-shaped



The origin of this 88-carat black diamond is not exactly known, but according to legend seems to have originated in Russia, and eventually came to be owned by several generations of a Russian noble family, by the name of Karloff-Sapozhnikov, who lived in St. Petersburg. According to legend, the Korloff diamond brings happiness, luck and prosperity to any person who has the privilege of touching it.

The original rough diamond is said to have weighed 421 carats, but the final product was only 88 carats in weight, resulting in an enormous loss of 333 carats. Such enormous losses are quite common in black diamonds as one usually comes across porous material that are fragile and difficult to work with. The Spirit of de Grisogono diamond which originally weighed 587 carats, weighed only 312.24 carats after processing, resulting in a loss of 274.76 carats. The Gruosi diamond which weighed 300.12 carats in the rough, weighed 115.34 carats when finished, resulting in a loss of 184.78 carats. Likewise the Black Orlov diamond that weighed 195 carats in the rough weighed only 67.50 carats when finished, resulting in a loss of 127.50 carats.

The diamond is believed to have been sold by the Karloff family in the 1920s, to a diamond dealer, probably from Paris. A lot of jewels and jewelry belonging to the Russian nobility eventually found their way to the jewelry dealing firms of Paris, after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. After five decades, in the 1970s the Korloff diamond was purchased by the present owner of the diamond, the French jeweler, Daniel Paillasseur, who in 1978 founded a jewelry company and decided to name it after this diamond, whose magic and mystery had always fascinated him. Today the black  Korloff  diamond has become the soul and symbol of Korloff Jewelers, a company based in Lyon, France, with a world wide network of import agents, multi-brand dealers, partner shops, and company's own retail outlets, marketing designer jewelry, Swiss watches, haute couture, and accessories. Within the last 29 years the company has grown into a mighty international jewelry empire, with 45 exclusive boutiques worldwide and more than 450 points of sale. Perhaps, the legendary diamond owned by the company seems to have had a beneficial effect on the company, leading to its phenomenal growth within this short period !!!


Introduction of new diamond cut known as Korloff-cut

Korloff Jewelers introduced a new diamond cut to the industry recently, known as the Korloff-cut, the ultimate result of many years of research and calculations. This is an exceptional octagonal diamond cut with 65 facets, 41 of which are on the crown and the remaining 24 on the pavilion. The advantage of this cut is that it enhances the brilliance and glitter of diamonds, because it allows as much light as possible to penetrate the heart of the stone. All diamonds produced by the company, of whatever size, conform to this new scientific cut, and the company is determined towards its perpetuation and popularization worldwide.


Public displays of the Korloff Noir diamond

The Korloff Noir diamond has been exhibited on several occasions in different countries of the world to coincide with the opening of Korloff sales outlets or boutiques.

The diamond was displayed on the first three days of the Jewelry Arabia Exhibition, held at the Bahrain International Exhibition Center, in October, 2003, to mark the 10th anniversary of Jawaher Asil Company, the Bahraini agents for Korloff Jewellers.

The diamond was exhibited at the second Haute Joaillerie Fair held at the Beirut's Phoenicia Inter-Continental Hotel, in November 2003.

The diamond was again exhibited on December 18, 2003, at Moscow's prestigious trade center, "Crocus City Mall," in connection with the opening of Korloff Paris boutique in Moscow. The diamond was said to be insured for $ 37 million, and was presented by Russia's famous figure skater Marina Anisina, the official face of the Korloff Company in Russia. The diamond was transported from France to Russia, by special air plane accompanied by armed guards and representatives of the Korloff Company. From the Moscow airport the diamond was carried to the Crocus City Mall in a special bulletproof car, followed by a helicopter from above until the diamond reached its destination. The Korloff Diamond was exhibited inside a bulletproof glass case, under the constant supervision of armed security guards.

Korloff Paris opened its first boutique in the United States, at the Gateway in Salt Lake City, Utah, in March 2007, but the official grand opening of this flagship boutique was held on November 23rd and 24th, 2007. To mark this occasion the 88-carat Korloff Noir diamond was specially flown in from Paris, under tight security precautions. The diamond was escorted by police in an armored vehicle from the Salt Lake City International Airport, to the Korloff boutique, at the Gateway. The diamond was displayed to the public on November 24, 2007, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. inside a bulletproof glass case under constant watch by armed security guards.


Mystique of the Korloff Noir diamond

According to legend the Korloff diamond brings luck, joy, and prosperity to any one who has the privilege of touching it. The excellent performance of Pete Sampras in tennis, and the achievements of Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov in the world of chess, are attributed to the touching of the diamond. Likewise the Russian figure skater Alexey Yagudin who had the privilege of touching the lucky stone, struck gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City. Marina Anisina, the Russian figure skater, is said to be another lucky person who had the privilege of touching the diamond.


Comparison of characteristics of conventional diamonds and black diamonds




1 Exist usually as single large crystals, formed by the build up of giant molecules. Polycrystalline, made up of large numbers of minute crystals stuck together.
2 Non-porous, and have a classic crystal structure. They are porous in nature, similar to pumice formed from larva.
3 No gases are present inside the crystals Gases like nitrogen and hydrogen are found inside the porous material.
4 Formed deep inside the earth's  mantle under high pressure and temperature conditions. They are not formed deep inside the earth.
5 Found in Lamproite and Kimberlite pipes, and alluvial deposits. Found only in alluvial deposits.
6 They are the hardest substances on earth. They are harder than conventional diamonds, and difficult to cut and polish
7 There are cleavage planes in the crystal along which the diamond could be cleaved. No cleavage planes in the diamond, and the extreme hardness is attributed to this.
8 They are more suitable for ornamental purposes They are more suitable for industrial purposes, such as grinding and drilling.
9 They are found in many parts of the world, like South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Russia and India. They are found only in Brazil and Central African Republic


      Extra-terrestrial origin of black diamonds ?

          Two scientists from Florida International University, Jozsef Garai and Stephen Haggerty, have proposed in a paper published in the Astrophysical Journal, of December 20th, 2006, that black diamonds found in the world today are of extra-terrestrial origin. The evidences they have given for such a view are :-

1) Black diamonds are never found in Lamproite or Kimberlite pipes. They are always found in alluvial deposits only. Therefore black diamonds did not originate deep inside the earth's mantle like conventional diamonds.

2) The presence of traces of nitrogen and hydrogen gases in Carbonado, indicates their ET origin. The presence of hydrogen indicates an origin in hydrogen-rich interstellar space.

3) Black diamonds are found only in two countries in the world today, Brazil and Central African Republic, which were in close proximity to one another, before the continental drift, billions of years ago. Carbonados were formed in stellar supernova explosions, and some of them were as large as asteroids, a kilometer or more in diameter. One such Carbonado asteroid impacted the earth's surface in the region of Brazil and Central Africa, billions of years ago, before the continental drift started.



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Dr Shihaan Larif
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