Billed as the world’s largest black diamond, the 88-karat “Karloff Noir” made a rare one-day appearance at a Dubai Mall last week to promote the reopening of a Karloff Paris boutique.
Discovered in Siberia in 1917, the unusual gem was cut from a 421-carat rough diamond and boasts a deep, rich black opaque color. Daniel Paillasseur, founder and managing partner of Korloff Paris, purchased the precious stone in 1978 and named it after the royal Russian family, Korloff-Sapojnikoff, which originally owned it. The gem is insured for $37 million and resides in Paris.
“It’s the heart and soul of the company and there’s only one such in the world,” Bassam Azakir, managing partner at Korloff Paris, told Gulf News. “[It has] been brought outside of Paris only on select occasions, for the Sultan of Brunei and the Queen of Malaysia. Given how priceless it is from an insurance perspective, it’s difficult to take it out.”
Although the Guinness Book of World Records had once affirmed the Karloff Noir to be the largest faceted black diamond in the world, another famous black diamond — The Spirit of de Grisogono — is reported to be far larger at 312.24 carats. Discovered several decades ago in the Central African Republic, the Mogul-cut black diamond was an astounding 587 carats in its rough state. Swiss luxury jeweler Fawaz Gruosi of Grisogono is responsible for cutting the gem and designing the setting for the larger-than-life white gold ring encrusted with 702 white diamonds (36.69 carats). The ring was eventually sold by Gruosi to a private client.
Despite our confusion over which black diamond is really the world’s largest, we’re intrigued by Karloff Paris’ claim that much of the company’s good fortune is credited to the mystical qualities of the 57-facet Karloff Noir.
In a 2007 Haute Living article, Karloff executives provided examples of how the black diamond has brought happiness, good luck and prosperity to all of those who have come in contact with it. The article explains how prior to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, figure skater Alexei Yagudin touched the stone and went on to win the gold medal. Composer and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, tennis player Pete Sampras, and chess players Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov are among the individuals said to have benefitted from the powers of the Karloff Noir.
Black diamonds are different than other colored diamonds because they do not get their color from chemical impurities, such as nitrogen, hydrogen or boron, in the diamond’s makeup. Instead, black diamonds owe their color to numerous dark inclusions (mostly graphite). Their opaqueness is caused by a “polycrystalline” structure that inhibits the reflection of light.
Images: Korloff Noir courtesy of Korloff France; Spirit of de Grisogono (uncredited).