Jewelry: Rock Art

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“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 diamond.

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 polisher.

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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