Mystery of the priceless pink diamond

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Nov 10, 2002
One of Southern Africa''s most valuable gems, the 59-carat flawless Steinmetz Pink, made its debut elegantly draped around the neck of supermodel Helena Christensen at a glitzy Monaco Grand Prix bash.

The intensely pink diamond, estimated to be worth more than 300-million by local experts, is extremely rare and was mined by De Beers in Southern Africa.

But the diamond giant''s lips are zipped as to the exact origins of the stone. Experts speculate it could come from Pretoria or Kimberley - but maybe even Angolan and Congolese mining giant, JFPI Corporation.

All agree that the stone is priceless - and is destined for one of the world''s wealthy diamond collectors or a Swiss bank.

Local jeweller Yair Shimansky said: " You can''t really put a price on it. How much would you pay for the Mona Lisa?"

De Beers'' manager of group media relations, Brian Roux, said it was up to the new owners, diamond manufacturers Steinmetz, to decide what information would be released about the stone.

But Steinmetz chief executive officer Nir Livnat said from Israel this week that he could not elaborate on the diamond''s origins - except to say that it was polished and cut over two years.

A team of eight people worked on fashioning the gem from the 100-carat rough stone, he said. Fifty models were worked on before the cutting even began. One wrong move and the priceless diamond would have shattered.

Local jeweller Robert Schwartz said it was possible the stone came from the Premier Mine at Cullinan, north of Pretoria.

Shimansky thought it was more likely to have surfaced from one of André Jackson’s mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Angola.

But diamond merchant Brian Magid said: "It could be from anywhere . . . Kimberley, Wolmaranstad. De Beers have rights on a lot of diggings on farms."

The diamond industry and Jackson in particular, are known to operate in utter secrecy.

Schwartz said: "People buy diamonds and hide them away. There''s such a security risk."

One person who hasn''t been hiding her rock away is Jennifer Lopez, who has made pink diamonds a fashion item by flashing her 6.1-carat pink diamond engagement ring from Ben Affleck at every opportunity.

The Steinmetz Pink will go on display for three months at Washington''s Smithsonian museum.

It will then go on the market, but Livnat would not be drawn on estimating a price.
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