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Diamonds - Advice For A Novelist


Alan Johns
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I would be grateful for the advice of any diamond experts reading this. I have written a novel which contains a key scene involving diamonds, and I don't want to get the facts wrong. In this scene, $13 million in diamonds has to be transferred between two men on a crowded station platform. Ideally the diamonds will be in a bag that can be carried easily by one person. Is this possible, in terms of both weight and volume?

 

I realise that diamonds of this value might be hard to source quickly, that they can be traced and that they would not be easy to sell. These considerations are not important here - all that matters is that the diamonds are portable.

 

If it is possible to carry diamonds to the value of $13 million in one bag, could anyone tell me precisely what diamonds to specify? I imagine that there are certain grades that are preferred by those who wish to hold a part of their wealth in diamonds, because these stones are of high value, easy to authenticate, accepted worldwide and can be bought and sold without high transaction costs. Is this so?

 

I am intrigued that I can research almost every aspect of my novel on the web, but I cannot find the answers to these questions. It seems that the diamond industry is impressively discreet.

 

Incidentally, I can assure you that the book is fiction. Any police or customs officer reading this is very welcome to contact me.

 

Any advice given will be treated as confidential unless you specifically ask for a credit in the novel, which I would be delighted to give.

 

Thank you for your help.

 

Alan Johns

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Hi Alan,

 

I'm no expert, but I did see one stone that looked like a blue Princess cut diamond go for approximately US$7 Million in an auction recently.

 

I guess the amount of diamonds that the character in your novel needs to transport (to the tune of US14 Million) depends on the quality of the stones. If you're thinking along the lines of that blue stone I mentioned, he/she need only carry 2 of them. They could just have them mounted on cuff-links and pass it to the recipient as a gift in a box.....

 

 

Bernard

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Alan,

 

Sounds very funky!

 

Stick with one, two, or three naturally colored diamonds (pinks, blues, and yellows).

 

These diamonds are subject to a different grading standard and a totally different dollar "value" system on the open market.

 

They are graded primarily with concern for (and respect to) the intesity and hues of the coloration.

 

These diamonds are incredibly rare and thus incredibly valuable and expensive.

 

They are prized for their beauty and rarity and are a part of the most important and expensive jewelry collections in the world.

 

 

The fact is that even one naturally colored diamond with the right specs. and color can be valued in excess of your $13M.

 

However, carrying around one diamond in a bag might not work well with your story line..... ;)

 

David F. (DiamondsByLauren) will hopefully chime in here....he deals with these beauties regularly :)

 

 

Best of luck!

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I would be grateful for the advice of any diamond experts reading this. I have written a novel which contains a key scene involving diamonds, and I don't want to get the facts wrong. In this scene, $13 million in diamonds has to be transferred between two men on a crowded station platform. Ideally the diamonds will be in a bag that can be carried easily by one person. Is this possible, in terms of both weight and volume?

 

I realise that diamonds of this value might be hard to source quickly, that they can be traced and that they would not be easy to sell. These considerations are not important here - all that matters is that the diamonds are portable.

 

If it is possible to carry diamonds to the value of $13 million in one bag, could anyone tell me precisely what diamonds to specify? I imagine that there are certain grades that are preferred by those who wish to hold a part of their wealth in diamonds, because these stones are of high value, easy to authenticate, accepted worldwide and can be bought and sold without high transaction costs. Is this so?

 

I am intrigued that I can research almost every aspect of my novel on the web, but I cannot find the answers to these questions. It seems that the diamond industry is impressively discreet.

 

Incidentally, I can assure you that the book is fiction. Any police or customs officer reading this is very welcome to contact me.

 

Any advice given will be treated as confidential unless you specifically ask for a credit in the novel, which I would be delighted to give.

 

Thank you for your help.

 

Alan Johns

 

Hi Alan.

 

Sounds like a cool project. How practical this would be (or likely if it matters) depends on a few things. If it's rough, uncut diamonds you're talking about there are all kinds of laws to prevent their acquisition and trade without proper documentation, and border controls in place in many parts of the world to prevent this - so a 'bag of them' would be pretty nefarious for someone to be toting around. Nevertheless, bags, boxes and briefcases of such have been the subject of stories before.

 

A 'bag' of cut/polished diamonds could be even more compact and ostensibly worth much more. The plain fact is that larger rough is harder to come by so larger diamonds are disproportionately more expensive. 5+ carat stones that are near-colorless and midrange in clarity can go for six figures. We have this 7.5 carat offering for $400,000 (these are retail prices, but there is not a ton of markup in large goods these days). An easy way to imply high quality might be to imply a bag of individually wrapped, colorless, flawless 'specials.' and define for the reader that a 'special' is a diamond weighing over 10.8 carats. That would allow a whole "bag." Colored diamonds are even more rare and sizable colored stones can go for impressive amounts at auction. Recently this 6.02 carat blue sold at auction for nearly $8 million. A few like this and you won't need a bag, just a cigarette holder.

 

Depending on how much you want to elaborate you could just say "a bag of rare colored diamonds mixed with colorless, flawless specials," or expand with something like "a bag of colorless, flawless specials over 10 carats in traditional shapes; Tolkowsky round brilliant, princess, emerald, Asscher and marquise - along with rare colored diamonds ranging from fancy yellow to intense red rivaling the Hancock, and a single 3 carat fancy vivid blue worth over a million by itself."

 

Forgive my out-of-context (or not) :) Anyway, it's certainly plausible. Bear in mind that anyone knowing anything about transporting diamonds would want to maintain their condition. This would mean carrying diamonds of note in individual wrappers - since "diamonds in a bag" can scratch one another. We call common diamond wrappers 'parcel paper,' but it may be cool to use the old flemish word 'briefke' depending on how into-it you're getting.

 

Either way, it sounds fun!

Edited to add: I see some esteemed colleagues chimed in while I was writing this. I suspect we're largely in agreeent - and David from DBL is indeed the "color" guy if he'd like to add 2 cents.

Edited by JohnQuixote
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What a fun question.

 

Sure, you could have $13m in a single stone if you worked at it. As John points out, there was a single fancy blue that sold at auction in Hong Kong last week for $8m that's smaller than a US nickle. That said, it depends on the style of your book. The ‘classic’ thing that investors tend to seek out is 1 carat D-Flawless round brilliant cut stones. They're definitely on the rare side but nothing like that blue in the auction. A few dozen of them are being offered for sale here and they seem to cost about $20k each. A carat, for your information is 1/5 of a gram. At $20k each, we’re only talking about 130 grams of diamonds. Add some sensible packaging and we're still under a kilo or 2. There are boxes and packages you can buy at places like www.kassoy.com that are made to hold a hundred or so of these papers. 650 would easily fit in a well organized brief case or backpack. In the 3 carat range, the budget goes up to about $150k each so you’re down to 90 stones. This could quite reasonably be packed into a medium sized handbag.

 

Neil

edited to delete a bunch of stuff that was already mentioned above.

Edited by denverappraiser
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We call common diamond wrappers 'parcel paper,' but it may be cool to use the old flemish word 'briefke' depending on how into-it you're getting.

 

“As she looked longingly across the train platform, she couldn’t help but notice the gigantic bulge in his briefke.†:)

 

Neil

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Haha....OK, I'll pitch in too...

 

 

"After due consideration of the inconvenience and costs incurred using valuable items as a form of exchange, we have decided to adhere to more traditional and inconspicuous means of doing business.......would you accept a personal cheque?"

Edited by Bernard Y
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As the train roared into the station Itzak looked morosely at the blood stained briefke and thought back to that fateful night in Hong Kong when he first bought the stone. What was he thinking? $13m for THAT! His judgement was clouded by the beautiful women, the wine and excitement of the auction. Maybe it was the opium. Either way it wasn’t worth a dime over $11m and he was finally about to get his refund or die trying.

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Neil, John, Bernard

 

I am very grateful - this is excellent advice and a great help to me. I think ideally I need around 100 stones. I don't want to go the cufflinks route (although that's an ingenious idea and it's going in the book) because the buyer needs to be able to sell them off steadily over several years. So maybe I should specify 3 carat D-flawless round brilliant cut stones, individually wrapped in parcel paper (briefkes), in a Kassoy box. Anything missing from this description?

 

Now here's the next question, if you've got the time - what equipment would the buyer need (let's assume he's a pro) to check that the stones are to the correct specification? He needs to be able to check a few stones, say five, picked at random, and to do this in five or ten minutes max in a hotel room using equipment he can easily carry. And what is the process of checking quality called, in the trade?

 

Thank you all so much

 

Alan

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Neil, John, Bernard

 

I am very grateful - this is excellent advice and a great help to me. I think ideally I need around 100 stones. I don't want to go the cufflinks route (although that's an ingenious idea and it's going in the book) because the buyer needs to be able to sell them off steadily over several years. So maybe I should specify 3 carat D-flawless round brilliant cut stones, individually wrapped in parcel paper (briefkes), in a Kassoy box. Anything missing from this description?

 

Now here's the next question, if you've got the time - what equipment would the buyer need (let's assume he's a pro) to check that the stones are to the correct specification? He needs to be able to check a few stones, say five, picked at random, and to do this in five or ten minutes max in a hotel room using equipment he can easily carry. And what is the process of checking quality called, in the trade?

 

Thank you all so much

 

Alan

 

Alan,

 

No problem. This is fun, and I want to hear more Readers' Digest condensed stories from Neil.

 

For the record, Kassoy is a company. I imagine they would love the press. I'd say carrying case instead of box. For smooth "gemspeak" you might say “one-hundred 3 to 5 carat colorless, flawless diamonds." No two diamonds are alike, so this implies all-premium stones while allowing diversity.

 

Checking quality: The buyer would want to have a private "sight" (a strong trade term, usually associated with DeBeers but it could be applied here to lend atmosphere) to "verify" the diamonds. The buyer, if he’s been in the trade for generations, might be referred to as a “diamantaire." For your purposes he will look more expert with minimal equipment.

 

He can have a polishing cloth, tweezers and a 10-power jeweler’s loupe. If you want to get into the action of testing you could describe him cleaning and placing diamonds on a creased white card at a window under northern daylight (if during the day) or under a fluorescent lamp (if no daylight is available) to determine color. He will tweeze and “loupe†each diamond to examine its clarity, and rock it back and forth in the creased card again to assess its brightness, fire and pattern; those three words are official GIA cut quality terms used by jewelers & gemologists.

 

Depending on how modern you want to be he could have a pocket scale (see the Nexus scale bottom of the page) to verify weight. Also, since these are flawless diamonds - the most difficult to tell apart from simulants - it would be prudent for him to have a tiny diamond tester (remember to take off the cap). [;)] These last two are not old-school, but they make the story up to date and a modern audience may appreciate them.

 

"Take off the cap" was an inside joke - story here. Don't even think of using elements from that story...if I read that sorry episode in a novel I wouldn't ever believe it.

 

The following is just because my peers will appreciate it: If you want to get super-techno your buyer could have a hand-held “ideal-scope†or “angular spectrum†tool (ASET) to assess cut. But that would be letting your source of advice show. These are tools pretty much limited to the grading labs and the internet market (where we prove cut to our clients sight-unseen). They’re a great way to judge cutting precision and light return but most retail jewelers would gnash their teeth and tear their hair if they were to read that.

 

Keep us informed. Can you tell we're cheering for you?

Edited by JohnQuixote
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Alan,

 

I have actually done this. ;)

 

The assignment involved a fairly large collection of ‘investment’ diamonds in a vault located in a not-so-friendly country that were being sold and transferred to a new location with less political trouble. I needed to inspect the stones in the vault and then fly to the new location and inspect them again after they arrived by the courier.

 

I did it using a sarin machine (www.sarin.com), a laptop computer with a scanner, a portable scale, a loupe, tweezer, cleaning cloth and a very cool little portable microscope gadget with a camera attachment that I rented for this purpose. I sarined each stone, weighed it, photographed the face up and girdle inscriptions, scanned the lab report, dumped all of the info into a database and packed the stones into a shipping case. All of this under the careful watch of some very annoying people and with video cameras everywhere. Capturing the data took on the order of 5 minutes per stone. Verification at the other end took about the same amount of time although the folks monitoring me were far less intrusive so it did seem to go a lot faster. A CD of the data traveled with the stones and a copy with both the seller and buyer to assure nothing was tampered with in transit. It was all very cloak and dagger.

 

The equipment used all fit into a large sized briefcase.

 

Neil

 

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Well, some fiction at least. That was an interesting assignment. I've no clue what the collection cost but I'm confident it was considerably more than $13m.

Edited by denverappraiser
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John,

 

If Alan goes with the Ideal-Scope "plug" and the book becomes a best seller, how much would you think that might be worth to Garry?? ;)

 

Good Job!

 

In dollars Judah? Aren't those blokes down under still using sheep and pigs for currency? You might be able to trade a crate of chickens and a nice Shiraz for all royalty rights.

 

Wait. Check that - Garry has been to America... I'm pretty sure we've corrupted him.

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As he stood on the British Rail platform, fidgeting with his favorite Idealscope that he just bought from Dave Atlas, he contemplated the zero halliburton hardshell case packed with AGS, GIA and HRD graded diamonds from Superbcert and Whiteflash, all nestled securely in their high quality Rubin briefkes from Kassoy and wondered - how many product placements CAN you put into a single sentence?

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