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Christie’s & de GRISOGONO – an emerging partnership of jeweller & auctioneer

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(The rather innocuous looking 404 carat rough that spawned the Art of de GRISOGONO)

The world famous Swiss luxury jeweller de GRISOGONO was founded in 1993 by black diamond specialist Fawaz Gruosi and it is known affectionately by its high clientele simply as ‘de Gris.’ Their most recent creation, The Art of de GRISOGONO, contains the largest D colour flawless diamond ever sold at 163.41 carats and fetched an eye watering US$33.7 million (£25.6 million) at Christie’s Geneva on 14th November 2017. The etymology of the word “carat” hails from the Greek keration, or carob bean, and this is the largest diamond by carat that de Gris have ever worked with. In keeping with de GRISOGONO’s flamboyant tradition, this necklace features a large swooping collar of emeralds and diamonds, accentuating the huge D-flawless diamond centre stone on its detachable setting at the base. The full name of the piece is actually the somewhat tongue-twisting “Art of de GRISOGONO – Beyond Jewellery, Creation 1” and the length of that name goes someway towards honouring the 2 years it took to create from its original 404 carat rough, the 27th largest ever found. Originally discovered in Angola at the start of 2016, Fawaz Gruosi himself described it as: “quite difficult to compare to anything else. To compare it to an object won’t convey the true feeling I got while holding it. It is extremely soft to touch, quite heavy, and fits perfectly into the palm. A talisman that you wish to keep in your hand forever.”

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(The finished article contains dozens of individual stones surrounding the 163.41 carat D-Flawless)

Bringing this piece together required a triad of de GRISOGONO, Nemesis (the diamond trader that first acquired the rough centre stone) and Christie’s, the auction house facilitating its sale. It is rare for such a new stone of this calibre to enter the market place, as most very high-end gems tend to be very old and often set into antique jewellery. The 404 carat rough was “cleaved” and split across one of its planes by the world-renowned Klein family in New York’s 47th Street diamond district. Moshe Klein explained: “The rough stone went back and forth between a lot of experienced people in various parts of the world for analysis before we even made that first cut. We used a Galaxy laser to examine the stone before we cleaved it, which is probably the newest technology in the world, but we use the oldest technology to actually make the cut: a little scratch is made in the stone with a small piece of rough, then we put in a special knife and split it.” The finished stone was certified by the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) as a Type IIA (the most chemically pure a diamond can be), D-Flawless (as clear white as has ever been discovered and completely free from any inclusions of any kind). Fawaz Gruosi himself described the piece in his own indomitable words: “I’ve been a jeweller for almost 30 years, yet I never thought it would be possible to be involved with such an exceptional stone, and from the very beginning. The diamond we ended up with is so extraordinary, it is like a dream. I can hardly believe it.”

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(The piece was sold for $33.7 million at Christie’s Geneva on 14th November 2017)

The new partnership that is forming between Christie’s and de GRISOGONO, initiated by the Art of de GRISOGONO necklace, will bring to auction the most exquisite diamonds ever sold on an ongoing basis. Sources close to de GRISOGONO have indicated that their aim is to sell at least one “phenomenal” piece per year through Christie’s so as to keep the appetite of the super high jewellery market wetted. In the words of Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Christie’s Jewels: “Over our 251 year history, Christie’s has had the privilege of handling the world’s rarest and most historic diamonds. This sensational 163.41 carat perfect diamond suspended from an elegant emerald and diamond necklace propels de GRISOGONO into a class of their own.” Fawaz Gruosi founded de GRISONO on three pillars: craftsmanship, innovation and creativity. It is clear that all three went into this creation! The rough stone was discovered at the Lulo mine, Lunda Sul Province, Angola on 4th February and was, rather unoriginally, initially christened “4 de Fevereiro!” In Geneva Gruosi’s team developed 50 competing designs for the ‘4 de Fevereiro’ and it was not until February 2017, a year after the rough stone was mined, that the final design choice was made. It subsequently took a team of 14 master craftsmen over 1,700 man hours to create the final piece.

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(Workings at the Lulo mine, Lunda Sul Province, one of Angola’s main diamond production sites)

The ultimate design comprised an asymmetric necklace, featuring the 163.41 carat D-Flawless centre stone, flanked by 18 emerald cut diamonds to the left and two rows of pear cut emeralds on the right. The aim was to contrast the colours and consequently accentuate the visual impact of the centre stone – it is said the Guosi is a superstitious man who believes that green encourages good luck, hence many of his collections feature these verdant stones! The level of precision is quite astonishing and no gold is visible between the emeralds, as each stone lines up exactly with the next and the metal itself is darkened to initiate what is known as the ‘chiaroscuro’ characteristic, a calling card of de GRISOGONO collections. The four prongs have been cleverly disguised under baguette cut diamonds to brilliant effect. On the reverse the piece is engraved with the diamond’s weight, hallmark and even more diamonds! There’s little doubt that given the current trends in the market we are likely to see many more of these ‘shock and awe’ pieces for the foreseeable future and the partnership between Christie’s and de GRISOGONO looks set to continue.

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