Zale Light of Peace Diamond

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Origin of name 

According to Morris Zale,  one of the two brothers who founded the Zale Corporation of Dallas, the name "Light of Peace" for the diamond, was chosen deliberately, in order to promote the ideals of peace, in this conflict ridden world, that brought misery to millions of innocent people around the world. They also felt that private enterprise could make a more meaningful contribution to society by promoting the ideals of peace, which hitherto had been only the concern of the Governments.

Characteristics of the diamond

The "Light of Peace" diamond, which was the largest of the 13 diamonds cut from the original 435-carat rough diamond, had a weight of 130.27 carats, with a pear-shaped cut, and a color rating of D, the maximum color rating for colorless diamonds. The clarity of the stone was given as VVS-1.

The shape/cut and the weights of the other 12 satellite diamonds that originated from the same rough are as follows :-

 

S/N

Shape/Cut

Carat Weight

1 Marquise 9.11
2 Marquise 9.04
3 Round Brilliant 6.93
4 Heart 3.63
5 0val 3.55
6 Marquise 2.73
7 Pear 1.83
8 Pear 1.55
9 Pear 1.51
10 Pear 1.13
11 Marquise 0.81
12 Pear 0.37

 

Out of the 12 satellite diamonds, the first two marquise-cut diamonds weighing 9.11 and 9.04 carats, turned out to be of exceptional quality, with a color grading of D and clarity grade of flawless.

The "Zale Light of Peace" diamond is a Type IIa diamond, being a D-color diamond. Such diamonds are absolutely colorless, as all factors that can cause colors in diamonds, such as the presence of impurities, plastic deformation of the crystals, and exposure to natural irradiation, are absent. D-color diamonds are known as the "purest of pure" of all diamonds.

 

History

According to a news report that appeared in the New York Times of Thursday, January 15th, 1970, the Zale Corporation of Dallas had for sometime been eager to acquire a spectacular diamond, perhaps as a symbol of prestige. Word of their interest had circulated among the independent diamond dealers of the world, and late last winter, the Zale Corporation received word from it's broker in Antwerp, Belgium, that a suitable diamond, newly unearthed in an unspecified nation in West Africa, was available for sale.

The Zale Corporation initiated negotiations with the owners of the diamond, and eventually purchased it for an undisclosed amount. It is this diamond, which eventually came to be known as the "Zale Light of Peace."

In the rough state the diamond weighed 435 carats, which at that time was the 14th largest rough diamond discovered in the world. Even though the diamond was a D-color diamond, certain regions of the rough stone appeared to be yellow. However, the yellow color was only skin deep and easily removed during the cutting and polishing process. The diamond was discovered in 1969 in West Africa. The country of origin of the stone was not specified, but it was almost certain that the diamond came from Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa, bordered by Liberia on the South, and Guinea on the East and North, and the Atlantic Ocean on the West. It's a country rich in mineral resources, such as diamonds, gold, platinum, bauxite, chromite, iron ore, rutile and monazite. Agriculture is the mainstay of it's economy, followed by mining, which is the most important industry in terms of employment and exports. Diamonds are mined by three different categories of prospectors :- (1) The state sponsored National Diamond Mining Company (DIMINCO), (2) Private companies (3) Individual private prospectors. The methods of mining include both modern and traditional. The modern methods consist of mechanical grab lines, with washing and separator plants. The traditional methods include crude hand digging and panning. The main sources of diamonds are the alluvial deposits in the basin of Sewa-Bafi river systems, and other rivers. Gemstones have been recovered from river gravels occurring on the surface, or from deposits just a few feet below the surface. Extensive smuggling and depletion of reserves have resulted in decline of official exports of diamonds. The Government of Sierra Leone has called for foreign investment in deep mining of diamonds as the alluvial sources are almost depleted.

the Zale Corporation entrusted the cutting of the diamond to one of it's experienced diamond cutters Mr. Alex Franckel, who made a detailed study of the diamond for almost an year before deciding on the best way to cut it. Prior to the actual cutting he made several castings of the diamond in lead and lucite, in order to derive at the most advantageous ways to saw and cleave the diamond, so as to obtain the biggest possible diamond.

Just as the planning of the cutting took almost an year, the actual cutting of the diamond also took another complete year, and eventually the rough diamond was cut to produce 13 smaller diamonds having a total weight of 172.46 carats. The largest of these 13 diamonds, had a weight of 130.27 carats, with a pear-shaped cut, and a color rating of D, and clarity of VVS-1. This diamond was given the name "Light of Peace" diamond.

As stated earlier the name "Light of Peace" was chosen by the company in order to promote the ideals of peace. In furtherance of this policy of promoting peace the Zale Corporation set up a special foundation dedicated to peace, with an initial donation of US $ 250,000. The Corporation also planned to exhibit the "Light of Peace" diamond, around the United States, and contribute all proceeds accruing from these exhibitions, to the foundation, in order to bolster it's funds. The foundations funds were to be administered by Arthur J. Goldberg, a former justice of the Supreme Court.

 

Last transaction and present owners of the diamond

In the year 1980, the Zale Corporation sold the "Zale Light of Peace" to an anonymous buyer, for an undisclosed sum, but the New York Times reported that the corporation made a profit of $ 6 million on this sale. The present owners of the diamond are not known.

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