If you’re in New York City this summer, schedule a visit to the American Museum of Natural History to see the extraordinary 5.05-carat Kazanjian Red Diamond, one of only three 5-carat red diamonds known to exist.
One of the most popular exhibits in the museum’s Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems, the Kazanjian Red is scheduled to end its extended run at the museum in 90 days, according to a spokesperson for Kazanjian Beverly Hills. The stone made its NYC debut in 2010.
Natural red diamonds are extremely rare — so rare that most jewelers will go a lifetime without having handled one. Fewer than 20 red diamonds have been discovered worldwide, and the esteemed club of red diamonds five carats and larger has only three members — the Kazanjian Red, the 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red and the 5.03-carat De Young Red.
The Kazanjian Red diamond has a long, storied history that rivals the plot of Romancing the Stone. Discovered in Lictenburg, South Africa, in the mid-1920s, the deep red 5.05-carat stone was cut from a much larger 35-carat piece of rough. A diamond dealer purchased the rough diamond for 280 British pounds, or approximately $25,000 in today’s dollars, accounting for inflation.
Amsterdam diamond cutters the Goudiv Brothers studied the stone for seven months before deciding on its emerald-cut shape. The color of the finished stone was described at the time as looking as if “a drop of blood fell upon the hand of the cutter.”
According to published reports, the stone then went on a wild ride that included stops at Tiffany & Co. in New York, a safe in Arnhem, Netherlands, the Nazi regime of WWII Germany, a Bavarian salt mine, the workshop of diamond merchant Louis Asscher, the estate of diamond magnate Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and a return engagement at Asscher.
The stone had been largely out of sight in a private collection for more than 30 years when Kajanjian Bros. Inc. purchased the well traveled gem and renamed it in 2007. It is now the centerpiece of the Kazanjian Foundation, which has been helping charities since 1957 through the display and sale of private jewelry collections.