Jewelry: Rock Art

“Collecting rare, colored diamonds is like building an art collection,” says

Thierry Chaunu, president and chief operating officer of Leviev. “One incredible

painting on the wall is not enough, just like one pink diamond isn’t enough.”

Over the last decade, the New York–based diamond company has built an

extraordinary cache of natural colored diamonds, including stones as rare as

works by van Gogh or Picasso. In October, at the opening of its Madison Avenue

boutique, its first American store, Leviev will showcase that collection.

However, one particularly stunning piece will be absent.

“We just sold an

8.6-carat fancy intense green diamond, and we’re not likely to find another one

like it or even close,” says Chaunu, noting that the gem sold for a price in the

$10 million range. Once clients discover pink or yellow diamonds, he explains,

they often develop an obsession for diamonds in uncommon shades of blue, red, or

green. Leviev is one of only a few jewelers with access to considerable

quantities of such gems.

“If a client doesn’t like the particular shade of a

green diamond, then we have several other green varieties,” Chaunu says casually

and without adding that many jewelers have never even seen a green


The new salon also will feature several blue diamonds, two red

diamonds, a 50-carat D-flawless cushion-cut diamond ring for $10 million, and an

assortment of stones weighing more than 50 carats apiece.

Leviev’s unrivaled

offerings are attributed to its high-profile owner, Lev Leviev, the Israeli

tycoon whose Leviev Group of companies has vast holdings in the mining, real

estate, high technology, fashion, tourism, communications, and energy

industries. In 1995, Leviev began acquiring diamond mines in Angola, Russia,

Namibia, and South America, and he reserves the best gem discoveries for his

stores in London and now New York.

Unlike most diamond retailers and jewelry

manufacturers who rely on numerous, and sometimes unpredictable, outside sources

for their inventories, Leviev supplies his boutiques with a seemingly endless

stream of high-quality stones that are mined, cut, and polished by his

vertically integrated operation. Leviev’s company, which employs more than

12,000 people worldwide, is the world’s largest diamond cutter and


In contrast to its glitzy inventory, the New York boutique is an

understated and serene oasis located in a circa-1920 building. Modeled after

Leviev’s Bond Street store, which flaunted more than 4,000 carats of diamonds

when it opened last year, the Manhattan space resembles a gracious residence

more than it does a jewelry salon. The main level’s inviting sitting area is

accented with an 18th-century crystal chandelier and small bronze and glass

vignettes displaying the diamonds. An upstairs room is reserved for private

viewings. “We have some museum-quality stones here,” says Chaunu, who quickly

adds, “but this is no museum.”


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