Thursday, December 22, 2011

RapNet Suspends Member for Listing Marange Diamonds

Martin Rapaport reiterated RapNet’s policy against listing diamonds from the Marange region of Zimbabwe—and announced that the computer-trading network last week suspended a member believed to have listed those stones on the service.

“We are going to take extreme efforts to make sure that the diamonds we offer are not from Marange,” the chairman of Rapaport Corporation said on a Dec. 22 conference call. “We are committed, really committed [to not listing Marange diamonds]. I don’t believe we are going to be perfect right away. But we want to move in that direction rapidly.”

Rapaport said his network is thinking about banning green-tinted stones, since many Marange diamonds are known to be of that hue, and may also “offer rewards” to anyone who reports a member who violates the rules.

He urged RapNet members to ask their suppliers about the origin of their diamonds.

“You have to start digging deeper as to where the supply chain is,” he said. “We want members to honestly and responsibly and reasonably investigate where their diamonds are coming from.”

“Talk to your suppliers,” he added. “Get to know your customer really well, and make sure they are legitimate.”

He also wants members to “affirmatively state” that their diamonds are not from Marange.

“You can’t just say everything’s fine,” he said. “You really have to understand what is happening in your supply chain.”

“Some people are saying, ‘Rapaport, you are crazy. People don’t go and investigate.’ I have this strange idea that there are a lot of good diamond people out there. We want a good, safe, honest, legitimate, trading network. And if we lose members, I really don’t care.”

When one questioner noted that many suppliers say they have no idea where their diamonds are from, Rapaport responded, “I don’t know if diamonds go through that many hands. If you list on RapNet, I don’t know if you are one or two steps away from the mine.”

Rapaport argued that Maragne diamonds pose three problems for the industry. First, they are illegal in some countries due to OFAC and European Union sanctions against the Mugabe-linked entities involved in their production. Second, they raise “moral and ethical” quandaries because they are linked to reports of past human rights abuses. Third, they represent “reputational risk” for the industry, given greater social awareness among consumers.

In addition, Rapaport announced plans for a broad-based campaign that will ask jewelers to pledge that they are not buying diamonds from the region.

“This campaign will ask people to take a pledge that they will investigate their sources,” he said. “It’s for everyone who believes in this ethical idea."

And finally, Rapaport said he will move ahead with his plan to offer “ethical certification,” which will track where a diamond comes from, and then grade its provenance.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

US$300k per Carat for Blue Diamond

Petra Diamonds Limited announces that its shares will today be admitted, with a premium listing, to the Official List of the United Kingdom Listing Authority (“UKLA”) and to trading on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market (“Main Market”) (together, “Admission”). Dealings in the Company’s ordinary shares will commence on the Main Market today at 8.00 a.m. GMT and cancellation of trading in the ordinary shares on AIM will take place simultaneously.

The prospectus, prepared by the Company in connection with Admission, is available free of charge at the office of Memery Crystal LLP, 44 Southampton Buildings, London WC2A 1AP during normal business hours and on the Company’s website.

Sale of blue diamond for record price per carat

In addition, Petra announces that at its most recent tender in early December it sold a 4.8 carat blue diamond (produced from the Cullinan mine) for US$1.45 million, equivalent to over US$300,000 per carat. This is the highest amount achieved on a per carat basis for any rough diamond sold by the Company. Petra is also confident that it is one of the highest values per carat ever achieved on the sale of a rough diamond by any rough diamond producer. Cullinan is renowned as the world’s only reliable source of blue diamonds and this sale demonstrates how rare and desirable they are to the international market.

Main Market step up

Petra’s step up, with a premium listing, to the Main Market is another important development in the Company’s progress, underscoring the success of the Company’s transformation from a junior diamond exploration company to become a leading independent diamond producer.

Since 2007, Petra has acquired five important ‘kimberlite pipe’ diamond mines from De Beers, being (in chronological order) Koffiefontein (South Africa), Cullinan (South Africa), Williamson (Tanzania), Kimberley Underground (South Africa) and Finsch (South Africa). The compilation of this portfolio of quality assets has seen the Group record the following growth from FY 2007 to FY 2011:

· resources have risen from 9 million carats to over 300 million carats, giving the Group one of the world’s largest diamond resources;
· annual production has risen from ca. 180,000 carats to over 1.1 million carats per annum;
· revenue has increased from US$17.0 million to US$220.6 million; and
· profit after tax has grown from a loss of US$20.9 million to US$59.2 million.

The Directors believe that the listing of Petra’s ordinary shares on the premium segment of the Official List and trading of Petra’s ordinary shares on the Main Market provides the appropriate platform for the Company’s continued growth, allowing a broader range of investors, seeking direct exposure to the positive long term fundamentals of the diamond market, to invest in the Company.

Adonis Pouroulis, Chairman of Petra, commented:

“Over the last few years, Petra’s rapid development has seen the Company grow to become London’s largest quoted diamond mining group. We have compiled a world class portfolio of long life assets, which produce some of the world’s most spectacular diamonds, as evidenced by the sale of the Cullinan blue for over US$300,000 per carat. Our core objective is to continue to deliver substantial growth over the coming years, as we steadily increase annual production to over 5 million carats by FY 2019, placing Petra in a strong position to benefit from the long term supply/demand fundamentals of the rough diamond market.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

BHP kicks off diamonds sell-off

BHP Billiton has entered a $C9 million agreement to sell its stake in one of its two diamond operations in Canada to joint venture partner Peregrine Diamonds, part of the miner's wider review of its diamond business.

The Anglo-Australian miner will sell its 51 per cent participating stake in the Chidliak diamond exploration project in Baffin Island, increasing Peregrine's 49 per cent stake to 100 per cent ownership.

The sale is part of BHP's review of its diamond businesses, a move flagged by the company last month. BHP is in the process of examining whether a continued presence in the diamond industry fits with its business strategy.

BHP also owns an 80 per cent equity stake in the EKATI Diamond Mine in Canada.

Last month, BHP said, while EKATI is a world class operation and Chidliak offers promising exploration opportunities, "many years of extensive exploration suggest there are few options to develop new diamond mines that are consistent with (its) approach" of focusing on developing large, long life, and expandable assets.

Peregrine will pay BHP $C9m over three years for Chidliak, while granting BHP a 2 per cent royalty on any future mineral production from Chidliak.

Peregrine has also acquired BHP's Canadian regional diamond exploration database and BHP has agreed to extinguish both Peregrine's royalty obligations and BHP's diamond marketing rights on certain Canadian mineral properties in which Peregrine has an interest.

"We are pleased to sell our interest in Chidliak to its natural owner," said BHP Billiton Diamonds and Specialty Products president Tim Cutt. "Peregrine has been a good partner and we believe they are a strong operator that is well positioned to advance this promising exploration opportunity."

Peregrine chief executive Eric Friedland described the deal as an "excellent growth opportunity" for the company.

"A 100 per cent stake in Chidliak, one of the world's leading diamond exploration projects, at a time when diamond supply shortfalls are on the horizon and worldwide demand for diamonds continues to grow, offers us complete flexibility on how this project will be developed in order to maximize shareholder value," Mr Friedland said.

The announcement follows the Oppenheimer family's recent $US5.1 billion sale of its 40 per cent stake in South African diamond producer De Beers to miner Anglo American.

Anglo sees diamonds being undersupplied in the future at the same time as demand from China, India and the Gulf States rises to equal that of the US, the world's largest consumer. The US accounts for 40 per cent of diamond demand.

BHP and Peregrine have agreed to close the transaction by January 31, 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

De Beers Diamond Jewellers Celebrates the Opening of Its New Store in Dalian, China Read more: De Beers Diamond Jewellers Celebrates the Opening of I

De Beers Diamond Jewellers, the definitive diamond jewellery destination, opened its third store in mainland China at The Times Square Mall in Dalian, bringing over 120 years of peerless diamond expertise and passion to this vibrant city.

The third opening in China follows the success of De Beers as a global destination for diamond jewellery lovers and connoisseurs. De Beers’ expansion into this fast growing market recognises the demand for exquisite designs and diamonds of superlative quality by Chinese consumers.

François Delage, CEO of De Beers Diamond Jewellers, added “We are delighted to open our first store in Dalian following the successful openings in Beijing in May and more recently in Tianjin. We are now able to fully share our exceptional passion and expertise in diamond selection, craftsmanship and design to one of the largest and most discerning markets in the world.”

Famed for creating the “A diamond is forever” slogan, De Beers brings over 120 years of peerless diamond expertise and passion to China. The 55 square metre store features some of De Beers’ most beautiful and important collections, including stunning solitaires, timeless classics and one-of-a-kind High Jewellery creations.

De Beers has a worldwide presence with stores located in the most sought after locations such as Fifth Avenue in New York, Printemps and Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Old Bond Street in London, The Landmark in Hong Kong, Shin Kong Place in Beijing and Ginza in Tokyo.

De Beers Diamond Jewellers was established in 2001 as an independently managed and operated joint venture bringing the luxury retail and branding expertise from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group, and De Beers SA, the world’s premier diamond mining and marketing company.


De Beers Diamond Jewellers is the ultimate destination for diamond jewellery. With over 120 years of diamond experience to draw on, De Beers Diamond Jewellers go well beyond the ‘4C’s’ of carat, weight, clarity, colour and cut to capture unmatched fire, life, and brilliance, providing the most beautiful diamonds in the world set in magnificent designs. The results are nothing less than sublime. The creation of timelessly elegant diamond jewellery – from selecting the world’s finest diamonds to impeccable craftsmanship and sophisticated designs – is the De Beers difference, an absolute expression of the Art of Diamond Jewellery.

De Beers are proud to be the only brand to demonstrate the beauty of their diamonds, using the De Beers Iris. This proprietary technology, found in each De Beers store provides clients with an objective way to see the beauty of their diamond through the eyes of an expert.


Each piece of De Beers jewellery is certified with a De Beers passport and each polished diamond above 0.20 carats is microscopically branded with the De Beers Marque. The De Beers Passport documents the specifications of your diamond jewellery and is your guarantee that every single De Beers diamond is natural, untreated, conflict-free and responsibly sourced and manufactured. The De Beers Marque, using technology patented by the De Beers Group, is invisible to the naked eye and ensures that each diamond is individually catalogued in the De Beers diamond registry, confirming its identity as a De Beers official diamond, to provide clients with total peace of mind.


De Beers Diamond Jewellers was established in 2001 as an independently managed and operated company by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s leading luxury products group, and De Beers SA, the world’s premier diamond mining and marketing company.

Diamond smugglers arrested in Azerbaijan

The persons, who smuggled about 384 carat diamonds to Azerbaijan, were detained on the scene of the crime as a result of operational measures conducted by the Ministry of National Security, the ministry’s public relations center told APA.

According to information, Azerbaijani citizen Mehdiyev Azer Agha smuggled diamonds, which he bought in Dubai, UAE, to Azerbaijan. After passing the customs border in Heydar Aliyev Airport, Azer Mehdiyev was detained in the parking area and 190,12 carat diamonds were seized from him during the search.

The ministry conducted one more operational measure and detained Azerbaijani citizen, Abdullayev Hafiz Ali Gara, who smuggled diamonds and jewelry to Azerbaijan. It was identified that Hafiz Abdullayev crossed “Sinig Korpu” customs post in Gazakh region, traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia from where he left for Istanbul, Turkey by plane. Then he flew to New Delhi from Istanbul. Abdullayev hided the jewelry, which he acquired in Delhi, returned en same route, smuggled from “Sinig Korpu” customs post and brought to Azerbaijan. But Abdullayev was detained in Gazakh region and 193.87 carat diamonds and 3 golden rings (purity 585) were seized from him.

The criminal case has been launched into both facts on the Criminal Code’s article 206.1 (Smuggling, moving large amount through customs border of the Azerbaijan Republic of goods or other subjects). The investigative and operational measures are being continued.

Diamonds continue to sparkle despite all the global gloom

Whatever the state of the global economy, the diamond business gets by on its own steam. That would explain why it did not miss a beat over the last 24 months as the economies in its core consumer markets imploded and diamond values spiked by 30 per cent this year.

But a period of stability beckons as far as value goes, according to Amit Dhamani, CEO and managing director of Dhamani Jewels, the diamond and gemstone wholesaler which has just set up a 10,000 square foot base in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

"We believe prices will become more stable in 2012 compared to the spiking trend which we saw in the first quarter of 2011," he said. "Even if there is a spike it will affect the commercial categories and not the end-user interests here.

"The diamond business in the UAE at all levels —rough, polished and jewellery — has seen tremendous growth due to the policies adopted at the government level and the entry of more suppliers from around the world."

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Such is indeed the case. Currently, diamonds represent more than 50 per cent of the jewellery trade in Dubai and last year the number of diamond specific transactions were valued at a record $35 billion.

According to Dubai Diamond Exchange data, the growth was driven by demand from India, Belgium and Switzerland, as well as new markets such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. And last January, polished diamonds valued at $7.2 million were offered at auction at the Dubai Diamond Exchange in the first sales event of its kind in the Middle East.

"The recent figures released by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre clearly shows that Dubai is now in the No. 2 spot in the world," said Dhamani. "This certainly has helped to establish the UAE as the best place to buy diamond jewellery."

It also explains the reason why his company decided to set up base here. Its entire operation will be centralised out of Dubai. A 4,000 square foot factory for diamond jewellery — with a focus on the high-end and the bespoke — will add its own sparkle. The plant is expected to process an output of $30 million a year.

"The trends which are emerging in the global and regional marketplace show a preference for single larger pieces of gemstones and diamonds which are better investments," said Dhamani.

"High networth consumers are looking at more aspirational jewellery which at the same time makes a style statement.

"Since establishing the new corporate base in Dubai we have strategised our marketing and sales policies to reach a different mix of customer segments. We are looking at strengthening our business across all the verticals and have specialised teams for high networth individual clients as well as our wholesale jeweller and manufacturer customer base.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Millions From Diamonds Go to Mugabe, Observers Say

Tens of millions of dollars in diamond profits — perhaps more — are being secretly extracted from state-owned mines in eastern Zimbabwe, bypassing the nation’s treasury and raising fears that President Robert Mugabe is amassing wealth to help extend his 31-year reign, according to monitoring groups, diplomats, lawmakers and analysts.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, center, at a meeting of Southern African leaders in Johannesburg in June. Kimberley Process Working Group of Diamond Experts, 2008

Stones from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe. Some are gem quality, but many others are suitable only for industry.

Even if Mr. Mugabe’s allies in the mining ministry are telling the truth about the number of diamonds produced, the treasury was still shortchanged by at least $60 million last year, according to a budget report by the finance minister, one of the president’s chief opponents.

But the amount of money being withheld from the nation’s coffers may be much larger than that. Experts, and even some members of Mr. Mugabe’s own party, say the president’s allies are lowballing the nation’s diamond figures by millions of dollars, hoping to hide the fact that profits are being diverted for personal and political ends.

“The benefits of the diamond sales go primarily to allies of the president,” said Mike Davis, a specialist at Global Witness, a group that has extensively researched the contested mines in eastern Zimbabwe, known as the Marange fields. The strategy, Mr. Davis added, was “part of a wider attempt by people around Mugabe to seize the diamond wealth for their own political purposes, which in the short term means beating and cheating their way to another election.”

Now that Mr. Mugabe no longer controls the Finance Ministry — the result of a tenuous power-sharing arrangement to end the rampant state-sponsored violence during the 2008 presidential election — analysts say he needs outside income to finance his political operations. Diamonds offer him a rare opportunity to do that, especially now that international monitors have agreed to let Zimbabwe sell vast quantities of them, despite repeated warnings that it would enable Mr. Mugabe to tighten his grip on the nation.

Recent expenditures by Mr. Mugabe and his security forces have worried observers that unaccounted money from Marange, estimated to be one of the world’s richest troves because of its volume of diamonds, is financing his party’s groundwork for the early elections he is seeking next year.

The country’s defense forces, which answer to Mr. Mugabe and helped secure his victory in the last election by force, recently bought a large shipment of weapons and equipment from China, local news media reported. The mining ministry has paid millions of dollars in salary increases for civil servants outside its ranks, a form of patronage intended to win votes, according to some lawmakers and watchdog groups. And Anjin — a Chinese mining company in Marange that local and Western officials say the Zimbabwean military has a direct ownership stake in — is financing a new military academy.

“It’s quite clear that there’s much more money floating around than is justified by the level of economic activity,” said Eddie Cross, a Mugabe opponent in Parliament. He told the legislature in October that, based on information from geologists and production records, one company alone mined $1.4 billion in diamonds in Marange last year, far more than the $300 million the mining ministry had reported for all its operations there.

Questions about the diamonds have even caused some splintering within Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, as some benefit personally while others get cut out.

“I personally don’t think the numbers tally at all,” said a former senior ZANU-PF official, speaking anonymously to maintain relationships within the party. “When you look at the fields they are mining and how rich they are and what they later declare, you see that there must be a huge difference.”

“People are asking, ‘Where is the diamond money?’ ” the official added, “and the answers don’t seem to be coming out.”

While Mugabe officials deny any sleight of hand, other members of his party acknowledge that the nation’s mineral wealth does not always make it into the public treasury.

Edward T. Chindori-Chininga, a ZANU-PF member who is chairman of the Parliament’s committee on mines and energy, said that while 60 percent of the country’s exports came from mining, the sector accounted for only 10 to 15 percent of the government’s revenue. All of Zimbabwean mining, including platinum and gold, needs to make sure “that the money truly does come” to the treasury, he says, though he argues that there is no evidence of his party using any money improperly.

The diamonds have become a vivid symbol of Zimbabwe’s conflicts. International monitors and human rights groups say the army seized the Marange fields in 2008, using “horrific violence against civilians.” The Kimberley Process, an international coalition trying to prevent the trade of diamonds that fuel conflict, initially suspended trading from Marange. But in 2010, under pressure from some of Zimbabwe’s neighbors, it authorized two sales over objections from Western powers like the United States.

Zimbabwe sold an additional four million carats of diamonds in November 2010, and last month it was given official approval to export diamonds from Marange, drawing harsh criticism from human rights groups and some Western nations. Global Witness, which helped to establish the Kimberley Process, quit the coalition in protest last week.

Officials within Mr. Mugabe’s party insist that they have accurately reported all Marange revenue. “It is not possible in Zimbabwe to stash away anything by anybody,” said the mining minister, Obert Mpofu. “The systems are so tight. Everything that has been mined in this country, sold in this country, is accounted for.”

Critics, monitors and diplomats strongly disagree. “We hear very detailed reports of how sales are made through suitcases full of cash and antisanctions units in local banks,” said a Western official. “By those sales and revenue details not being conveyed in treasury figures, it leads many to believe that real sales are higher, possibly much higher.”

The political consequences could be stark. A military operation known as Operation Zhunde Ra Mambo, or “blessings of the chief,” financed by the ZANU-PF member who oversees the state’s interests at Marange, has deployed troops to rural areas to intimidate political opponents, according to one former opposition intelligence operative.

Mr. Mugabe has said the power-sharing deal is not working and has called for elections next year, a year ahead of schedule. Some analysts argue that Mr. Mugabe is pushing for elections because of his poor health — ZANU-PF would crumble or fracture without its leader — and to capitalize on the diamond wealth while he has it.

How much of the profits the nation’s coffers deserve is a matter of fierce debate. In his budget report, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the government was entitled to at least 75 percent of gross proceeds, but received only 56 percent of reported earnings last year. Mining officials say the treasury got all it was owed.

But whether all the profits are being reported is another matter. One of the mining companies, Mbada, is owned by the state’s Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and The New Reclamation Group, a company based in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Sandton. The chairman of Mbada is Robert Mhlanga, Mr. Mugabe’s former pilot and a former member of the Zimbabwean defense forces.

A diamond production expert provided what he said were Mbada’s records for November 2010. They indicate that it produced between $100 million and $121 million worth of diamonds in that month, or possibly more than $1 billion that year. If accurate, that means a single company produced more than three times the amount claimed by the mining ministry for all of Marange.

Mr. Mhlanga and David Kassal, an owner of the New Reclamation Group, declined to comment. But skeptics abound.

“The people who are mining are ZANU-PF faithfuls,” said Moses Mare, another Mugabe opponent in Parliament. “They are not mining for the government. They are mining for their leaders.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chinese firm denies abuse at Zimbabwe diamond mine

A Chinese mining group has denied violating human rights at Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields where unlicensed small-scale miners have clashed with security forces in the past.

The Anjin group told Reuters on a rare visit that it planned to boost output at the high-security mining area, where even giant Baobab trees sport surveillance cameras.

Marange, 400 km (240 miles) east of Harare, has generated controversy since 20,000 small-scale miners invaded the area in 2008 and were forcibly removed by soldiers and police.

Human rights groups say up to 200 people were killed during the process, charges denied by Harare.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in August that police and private security employed by some mine owners were shooting, beating and using attack dogs against unlicensed miners.

"There are no human rights issues here at Anjin," Munyaradzi Machacha, a director at Anjin, told journalists during the tour.

Four companies operate the mines.

Two of them had already said reports of abuses were false: Diamond Mining Company of Zimbabwe -- a new joint venture between the government and Pure Diamond of Dubai -- and Mbada Diamonds, another joint venture between the state and a Zimbabwean investor said to be close to President Robert Mugabe.

HRW mentioned only Mbada by name but rights bodies have also accused Zimbabwean state security agencies working with Anjin of abuses.

Anjin is a joint venture between the government's Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and China's state-owned Anhui Foreign and Economic Construction Company and is run mainly by Chinese nationals.

Security is tight at all the fields, with electric and alarmed security fences, flood lights and close-circuit television to stop illegal miners from sneaking in.

At least five police check points guard the highway to Marange, there are mandatory searches and armed guards with dogs patrol the area.

Rules forbid people from picking anything from the ground around the mining area.


Marange is a hot and arid place where temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius and it is home to Baobab trees as old as 200 years.

The mining firms have transplanted the trees to facilitate mining and Anjin has put spy cameras on some of them. The firm says at least five people are caught each week trying to sneak into the concession area looking for diamonds.

The Marange fields span 71,000 hectares and contain large deposits of alluvial and conglomerate diamonds - found in sedimentary rocks - but companies are only mining on some 40,000 hectares.

The mining area hums with the sound of trucks and front loaders digging the earth and sending ore to processing plants, which were imported from neighbouring South Africa.

Anjin's mine reflects the nationality of its owners with high gates decorated with guardian lions and dragons.

Some 210 Chinese are among the 1,700 workers employed by the company.

Three of the mining firms have been certified to export rough diamonds by global regulator Kimberley Process, a scheme that imposes requirements on member states to ensure gems were not obtained as spoils of conflict.

Earlier this month campaign group Global Witness pulled out of the Process, saying it was unwilling "to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe".

Anjin chief engineer Hu Shijie told Reuters he expected production to rise next year, from one million carats mined in the first half year of production from October 2010.

"We are looking at producing between 7 to 10 million carats," he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday through an interpreter when asked about the production target for 2012.

"We want to put in a lot of investment to develop the economy of this country."

Machacha told reporters that the mining firm had stockpiled 3 million carats of rough diamonds and was now selling them after the Kimberley Process allowed it to start exports last month.

He said Anjin had so far invested $310 million since it started operations in August last year.

Hu said the mining firm will commission two new diamond processing plants on Thursday, bringing the total to seven.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry fetches record $115 million at auction

Elizabeth Taylor may be gone, but her jewelry is still turning heads. The actress's personal collection of jewels went up for auction Tuesday night -- and fetched a record $115 million.

A pearl, diamond and ruby necklace known as La Peregrina, a gift to Taylor from Richard Burton in 1969, sold for a record $11.8 million. Christie's, which conducted the auction, had estimated the necklace would sell for $2 million or $3 million. Burton paid $37,000 for it.

A 33.19-carat diamond ring, which was projected to go for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, sold for $8.8 million.

That sum for a single white diamond could have bought a whole lot of Taylor's White Diamonds.

A diamond bracelet given to Taylor by close friend Michael Jackson sold for $194,500.

Eighty pieces from Taylor's jewelry collection were auctioned Tuesday in New York, with the remaining 189 items to go Wednesday. Christie's has already blown past the $30 million it predicted as the total sale price. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

More from the late actress' estate will go on sale later in the week, including some of her film scripts and costumes. In February, her collection of Impressionist and Modernist art will go on sale in London.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

US sanctions two diamond mines in Zimbabwe

The United States on Monday sanctioned two diamond mines located in Zimbabwe's Marange region, the scene of serious human rights abuses in 2008.

A mine belonging to state-owned Marange Resources and another owned by publicly held Mbada Diamonds were added to a US Treasury Department list targeting entities linked to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Under the sanctions, the US assets of targeted entities are blocked and US nationals or companies are generally prohibited from doing business with them.

The Marange mines are considered among the richest discovered in Africa in decades. They were taken over in 2008 by the Zimbabwean army which expelled thousands of miners and forced civilians to replace them.

According to human rights groups about 200 people were killed and others beaten or raped, prompting the Kimberley Process, the world body charged with eliminating "blood diamonds," to suspend diamond exports from those mines.

But in a controversial decision, the Kimberley Process authorized sales of diamonds from the two mines again on November 1. The United States abstained in the vote, saying it wanted to help world body resolve the impasse after months of negotiations.

Business Diamond exports rebound in October

Rough and polished diamond exports rebounded strongly in October, up to 78 percent to P2.16 billion from September, preliminary Bank of Botswana statistics indicate.

The latest figures suggest a resurge in demand for diamonds after a transitory reduction in the market's appetite for the precious stones, which resulted in a flattening out of prices in the third quarter. Prior to the third quarter slowdown, rough diamond prices had risen by about 35 percent since January before prices reached saturation point on market dynamics.

Analysts attributed the rebound in diamond exports seen in October to restocking and building up of inventories by cutting and polishing firms ahead of the festive season.

Traditionally, rough diamond demand peaks in the quarter before the Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year period as manufacturers and jewellery chains stock up for holiday spending. In addition, the Pula's recent fall against the US dollar in September and October is expected to have increased the allure of precious stones to the market.Between September and October, the Pula depreciated by 8.3 percent against the US dollar for a total of 9.8 percent fall in the first 10 months of the year. According to Bank of Botswana data, October figures bring diamond exports for the first 10 months of the year to P27.8 billion, a historic performance, given that the previous record for exports over 12 months was P21.7 billion achieved last year.

In US dollar terms - the currency of international diamond trade - the October exports equal US$288 million( P2.1 trillion), up 73 percent month-on-month. For the year in US dollar terms, the exports to October equal US$4.16 billion (P30.8 billion). The record diamond earnings are music to government's ears in a year in which it is targeting a balanced budget in 2012/13.

Although government was planning to finance the P6.2 billion deficit that is projected for 2011/12 from domestic borrowing, the treasury has gained elbow room from higher diamond revenues and lower-than-forecast spending by some ministries. At the current pace - and given the stronger fourth quarter rough diamond demand linked to the festive season - analysts believe annual exports could reach P34 billion.

The historic figures recorded thus far this year have been made more momentous by the fact that they have been achieved from production of fewer stones.

Debswana, the country's main diamond producer, is targeting 25 million carats this year, down from pre-recession years when the company easily pumped out more than 30 million carats annually.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Diamond houses keep fingers crossed after change of guard at De Beers

For decades, a quaint practice marks the secretive world of diamond trade. Every five weeks, elite diamond houses from all over the world assemble in a room in London, and behind the closed doors, each one of them is given a small box of rough stones by De Beers - the cartel known for its formidable clout and control on the supply of roughs. Every box contains a mix of good and not-so-good stones.

The buyers quietly pick the boxes and take flights back to Mumbai or Antwerp, where the stones are cut and polished by skilled craftsmen. No questions are asked. No one has a choice. But the visits to London will soon come to an end. A year from now, the diamond houses will have to send their men to Botswana - the African country that in the coming years may call the shots in the business.

For some Indian diamond firms - dominated by members of the closely-knit Palanpuri Jains who have established themselves as leading players by giving the old, Hasidic Jewish families of Manhattan and Tel Aviv a run for money - a shift to Botswana is just a change of location. But for many, it could be the rumblings of deeper changes in a trade that till now was controlled by a single family - the Oppenheimers of South Africa.

Last month, the family sold its 40% shareholding to mining giant Anglo American, an existing stakeholder whose holding in De Beers will now rise to 85%. The balance 15% is owned by the government of Botswana which has the option to raise it to 25%.

What are the concerns?

Besides being a significant minority stakeholder, Botswana is a key supplier of rough diamonds. The exit of the founder family, the understanding between the Botswana government and Anglo American, Botswana's rights to raise stake and its eagerness to generate more employment through new diamond factories in the country are raising concerns on what the future has in store for Indian diamond groups who today cut nine out of every 10 stones sold.

In Opera House and BKC, Mumbai's diamond districts, some of the questions cropping up are: Will the fixed price system (through which roughs are currently sold after appraisal by independent valuers) continue? Will Diamond Trading Company (DTC), the roughs distribution arm of De Beers, bring in new sightholders - the 90-odd chosen clients who are assured supply? Will the nature of the business change? How will it be like dealing with a government in Africa?

"I don't expect any surprises in the short term, but in the long term, I can't say," says Anoop Mehta, owner of Mohit Diamonds, a DTC sightholder, when ET asked him whether he expected a change in contract clauses or a shift from fixed price system. More and more diamond auctions (against the fixed price system) can alter the trade arithmetic. While some in the trade underplayed the imminent shift from London to Botswana, Mehta says it's a "major move" but a "change in the right direction".

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Harry Winston Rough Diamond Sales -40% in Q3

The drop in demand for rough diamonds, and subsequently their price, led Harry Winston Diamond Corporation to a $4.7 million loss in the third quarter.

The firms' rough diamond sales totaled $36.2 million, a 40 percent decrease from $60.7 million in the comparable quarter of the prior year. The company's 40 percent share of production increased by 8 percent to 0.8 million carats.

Harry Winston sold 0.2 million carats of rough diamonds at an average price $159 p/c, compared to 0.6 million carats at $95 p/c sold in the comparable quarter of the prior year.

The price difference is primarily the result of the stockpiling of some lower priced diamond assortments which currently face competition from the recent sale of stocks of similar quality Zimbabwe diamonds, the company said. At the end of the quarter, Harry Winston was holding 1.1 million carats of rough diamond inventory with an estimated value of $123 million at current market prices.

Mining segment EBITDA was $16.7 million in the quarter compared to $24.9 million in the prior year, posting an operating loss of $3.3 million.

Retail sales were $83.5 million compared to $80.2 million in the third quarter of the prior year, an increase of 4 percent or a decrease of 4 percent at constant exchange rates.

The luxury brand segment generated EBITDA of $4.5 million and an operating profit of $1.3 million in the third quarter 2012 compared to EBITDA of $8.6 million and operating profit of $5.4 million in the comparable quarter of the prior year.

The decreased operating profit is a result of the seasonal increased marketing expenditure leading into the holiday season and expenses related to the anticipated opening of new salons in China during early 2012.

The company does not expect sales to meet production. Having made very limited sales to rough diamond clients in October and November, the company intends to seek new buyers in December. However, the lack of credit available to diamond manufacturers continues to constrain the industry, the company warned.

For the luxury brand segment, the company continues to focus on strategies that will drive long-term growth. These strategies include initiatives to grow the core bridal and watch businesses and new jewelry collections.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Diamond traders thank Modi for their release

For the families of the 13 diamond traders in Mumbai and Surat, yesterday was the greatest day of their lives as these traders, who were arrested by the Customs officials in China two years ago, were finally released.

Among the released traders, six are Mumbaikars, while the remaining seven hail from Surat.

Joy overflowing
"Since we got the news that my son has been freed, my place is abuzz with phone calls and visitors congratulating us. It's been a long wait for my family and me," said a delighted Ashok Shah, father of Sameer, a city-based diamond trader.

Kishan Shah, uncle of Parth N Shah, said, "This is the happiest moment of our lives. Finally, justice has been done. I will be able to see him very soon."

'Thank you, Modibhai'
While some of the released traders thanked their luck, most said that they owe their freedom to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who managed to convince the Chinese government to consider the release of diamond traders during his visit to Beijing last month.

"Modibhai has played a big role in our son's release. It was because of his intervention that our sons will be back in India soon. Once my son comes home, I'll see to it that he seeks Modi's blessings," said father of another diamond trader from Surat, requesting anonymity
Opera House beaming
Diamond expert Hira Manik stated, "The news has brought a wave of happiness in Opera House. The traders in Mumbai and Surat will be thankful to Modi for his efforts in bringing back the traders to India."

The case
About 22 traders were arrested on January 8, 2010 in Shenzhen and charged with smuggling diamonds worth $ 7.3 million. These traders were accused of sourcing at least 14,000 carats of diamonds illegally from Hong Kong for sale in the Chinese market.

According to the reports published earlier in the local media, they were also charged with controlling a smuggling ring, working with 'henchmen from Hong Kong'. Officials of the Indian Consulate at Guangzhou attended the court proceedings.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Relief in Gujarat, Modi thanks China

A sense of relief swept over diamond traders in Gujarat on Wednesday after the Shenzhen court in China acquitted 11 of the 22 Indian diamond traders detained there on charges of smuggling. A majority of the accused were from the State.

Many traders felt the Indians had been awarded comparatively light sentences, considering that an Australian was sentenced to 14 years in jail.

Through Twitter, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi thanked the Chinese government for expediting the legal process. “Thankful to China for acting on my request of speeding the judicial process for 22 Indians imprisoned there for two years,” said Mr. Modi, who visited China last month for improving trade relations.

According to a State government spokesperson, Mr. Modi had, during his visit, communicated to the Chinese leadership the concern of the family members of the accused who were languishing in jail in a foreign land without any hope.

Keen to strengthen trade relations with India, and particularly Gujarat, the Chinese authorities had assured the Chief Minister the trial would be expedited, the spokesman said.

Even after his return here, Mr. Modi had asked the State government officials to follow up the matter through the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian embassy as he was quite concerned about the deteriorating health of the Indian accused in Chinese jail, and also arranged for providing them vegetarian food. Mr. Modi said he had taken up the case of the Indians with the Chinese authorities “purely on humanitarian grounds.”

Surat Diamond Association president Dinesh Navadia said the Shenzhen court verdict “by and large” was “good news” for Indian diamond traders and, more particularly, for those in Surat. He said the diamond traders and the family members of those held in China were feeling “highly concerned” about their fate, but “much of the tension has eased and we are all feeling comparatively relieved.”

The relatives of those who were sentenced to three to six years of imprisonment, however, claimed that those held were engaged in legal trading in diamonds but had been wrongly implicated on smuggling charges.

They wanted the State and the Central governments to take up the matter with the Chinese authorities.

An official spokesman of the State Congress, however, claimed that the trial was expedited and the accused were given comparatively lighter sentences thanks to the efforts of the government of India at the behest of Ahmed Patel, political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and Congress MP from Banaskantha Mukesh Gadhavi.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The largest Canadian Pink Diamond ever mined arrives at Vancouver's Lugaro Jewellers

Lugaro Jewellers, celebrating its 25th year in business, is excited to be part of Canadian diamond history in displaying the first pink diamond ever discovered in Canada. The 2.75 carat pink diamond originates from the Victor Mine in Ontario operated by De Beers Canada. Pink diamonds are considered the most expensive natural creation by weight in the world and with this in mind Lugaro Jewellers announces the arrival of this rare diamond to its Park Royal, West Vancouver retail location.

Lugaro Jewellers has been one of the greatest supporters of diamonds that are mined, cut and polished in Canada and this has lead them to purchase this Canadian first. "Canadian diamonds resonate with our clients and we are excited to have one of the rarest of them all, a pink diamond like no other," says Steve Agopian, President of Lugaro Jewellers. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and to be part of the legacy of Canada's first pink diamond is quite an honour".

The brilliant oval cut, natural light pink, SI clarity diamond is set in a ring of 18-karat white gold and surrounded by smaller pink and white diamonds, 0.90 Carat TW, designed by renowned jewellery designer Simon G and retails for $425,000 CDN. The diamond was cut and polished in the Crossworks Manufacturing state of the art polishing facility in Ontario, accompanied by a Certificate of Origin and graded by the Gemological Institute of America.

"Pink-colour diamonds are rare, and especially in Canada. I am thrilled, on behalf of the Ontario government, to represent this 2.75 carat pink diamond as the first pink diamond from the De Beers Victor Mine, cut and polished in Ontario", Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources.

"The moment we saw the rough diamond we realized we were making history", said Dylan Dix, Group Executive of Crossworks Manufacturing responsible for cutting this historic diamond. "This is a rarity that I haven't seen over the 12 years that diamonds have been mined in Canada. It was polished in our factory in Ontario and this is a credit to both De Beers Canada and the Ontario Government for supporting the secondary diamond industry in Canada".

Today, the pink diamond plays the role of cupid among the coloured diamonds. Pink, after all, is the colour of passion, of universal love. The hue of a pink diamond can vary and is graded from a light champagne pink to a deep purplish pink. The extreme popularity of pink diamond engagement rings worldwide is not a surprise. Ben Affleck purchased a 6.1 carat pink diamond ring for his engagement to Jennifer Lopez and David Beckham presented his wife Victoria with a $1.8-million pink diamond. In recent years, Britney Spears, Beyonce, and Helena Christiansen sported a pink diamond or two as well.

About Lugaro:
Lugaro Jewellers, the leading Canadian Diamond retailer in Western Canada, was established in 1986 as a vertically integrated all-in-one company. Today, Lugaro operates a manufacturing facility in Burnaby and 3 retail stores in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island. As a vertically integrated company who deals directly with the Canadian diamond source, the company keeps their prices competitive. Lugaro's commitment to excellence has earned them various awards in the industry, trust and praise from many loyal clients.

About De Beers Canada:
De Beers Canada operates the Victor Mine in Ontario and the Snap Lake Mine in the Northwest Territories. De Beers Canada also has a joint-venture project in the Northwest Territories currently undergoing a feasibility study, as well as targeted exploration strategy within Canada. The De Beers Canada Victor Mine was named international "2009 Mine of the Year" by Mining Magazine. De Beers Canada was also named a winner of the 2010 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Environmental and Sustainability Award. Committed to Sustainable Development and Working with Communities, De Beers Canada has a number of formal agreements with First Nation communities in Canada, including seven signed Impact Benefit Agreements related to the Victor and Snap Lake mines.

Chinese sell Zimbabwe diamonds

The first auction of gems from a Zimbabwean diamond field where the military stands accused of carrying out abuses was under way on Tuesday, a month after an international ban on sourcing precious stones from the area was lifted.

The diamonds were being offered for sale in Harare by Anjin Investments, a joint venture between a Chinese state-owned mining company and the Zimbabwe army, a top government official was quoted as saying in the state-run Herald newspaper.

According to the paper, the sale began on Monday. Last month the Kimberley Process (KP), an international regulatory system, removed Marange fields from its list of illegal sources, though rights groups say abuses still continue there.

Some 200 people were killed during a bloody crackdown by security forces against illegal diggers four years ago.

On Monday, Global Witness Foundation, the international pressure group lobbying against the use of diamonds allegedly used to fuel wars in Africa, declared it was withdrawing from the KP.

"The KP has failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Ivory Coast, breaches of the rules by Venezuela and diamonds fuelling corruption and state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe," said GWF director Charmian Gooch.

The approval of sales from Marange "has turned an international conflict prevention mechanism into a cynical corporate accreditation scheme", Gooch said.

The government shrugged off the group's charges, with the Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu saying Global Witness "survived on opposing the trading of Zimbabwe diamonds on the international market. Now that Zimbabwe has been fully admitted, they have no work to do."

Harare has adopted a "Look East" economic policy and favours Chinese companies with good terms for business deals.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Woman robbed of 'rare' £250k Graf diamond ring in Camden

A woman had her £250,000 wedding ring stolen in a "violent attack" in front of her six-year-old daughter in north-west London, police said.

They said the woman was wrestled to the ground by two men in Chester Terrace, Camden, in front of the girl and her six-year-old friend.

The Graff ring was said to be about 20 years old with a four-and-a-half carat pear-shaped diamond and smaller diamonds around the platinum band.

Police said the ring was a "rare cut".

Officers have only just released details of the attack, which happened on 18 November.

Police said one of the men placed his arm around the victim's neck before both man ran away with the ring towards Chester Gate.

The victim suffered some scratches to her neck and finger, as well as some swelling.

It is believed that there were witnesses who may have seen the attack.
'Particularly violent'

The two attackers have been described as aged between 20 and 25 with athletic builds.

Both wore bomber-style jackets and caps.

One was 6ft 1in tall and the other about 5ft 10in.

Det Con Matthew Isles from Camden Police's robbery squad said: "This was a particularly violent attack in front of two six-year-old children and we are following several lines of investigation to bring those responsible to justice."

Watchdog Pulls Out of Diamond Monitoring Group

Human rights watchdog Global Witness on Monday pulled out of the Kimberley Process, highlighting deep divisions within the diamond monitoring group over how to regulate trade of the precious stones.

Global Witness said it was withdrawing from the Kimberley Process because its program of certifying diamond exports is "outdated," and it doesn't address human rights abuses in the trade of rough diamonds. It objected in particular to a Kimberley Process decision in November to approve diamond sales from Zimbabwe's Marange field.

Global Witness said they are concerned that attacks against local miners by security officials in Zimbabwe—and the lack of transparency around diamond revenue from Marange—are reasons to continue banning exports.

"The diamond industry has a notion that it's clean," says Annie Dunnebacke, a campaigner at Global Witness, who has represented the group at Kimberley Process meetings. "It needs a rebrand because it's not weeding out blood diamonds."

The move bruises the Kimberley Process credibility just as the U.S. takes up the role of leading the diamond monitor, and underscores the sharp differences it must bridge on issues of human rights in the sales of these precious stones.

Established in 2003, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme brought together countries, diamond companies and civil society groups for a common objective: To prevent the trade of precious stones from fueling war. The trouble has come as some countries attempt to use the Kimberley Process to improve human rights conditions in countries that mine the diamonds, such as Zimbabwe.

"Human rights were specifically excluded because governments said they wouldn't support it," says Martin Rapaport, chairman of Rapaport Group and one of the writers of the Kimberley Process. Rapaport Group has banned the trade of diamonds from Marange in its own network and has since turned critical of the process.

Groups like Global Witness and countries like the U.S. and Canada have called on the process to move beyond conflict diamonds to include those mined in oppressive situations, such as dog attacks against miners in Marange. But other countries—including China, India and African nations—say using human rights as a measure for diamond sales goes beyond the group's original mandate.

Despite these differences, the Kimberley Process has managed to hold together. That is mainly because member countries have enacted legislation that controls the import and export of diamonds based on the Kimberley Process's requirements. On Monday, several countries said they remain committed to making the process work despite its shortcomings.

"The KP may not be a perfect instrument, but it is the best we have, and therefore all parties, including civil society, should work to make it effective," the European Union said Monday. "Abandoning it doesn't help achieve that common goal."

Zimbabwe officials played down any impact from Global Witness's withdrawal from the Kimberley Process. "They are in the business of lobbying, and we are in the business of selling diamonds," said deputy mines minister Gift Chimanikire. "We will sell those diamonds. That will not stop us."

The U.S. has struggled for ways to keep the diamond-monitoring process principled yet pragmatic.

At a June meeting, American representatives opposed Kimberley Process approval for Marange diamonds, but the chairman from the Democratic Republic of Congo overrode opposition from the U.S. and others, causing confusion throughout the diamond industry on whether the ban had been lifted. In November, the U.S. abstained from another vote, clearing the way for exports. Its representative will be chairman for next year's Kimberley Process.

South Africa—whose representative will become vice chairman—has argued that Zimbabwe has made great strides in cleaning up the Marange diamond zone and that exports should be allowed.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Commodities: the long-term future is bright for diamonds

So Shirley Bassey lied, diamonds are not forever - at least not for BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company.
Commodities: the long-term future is bright for diamonds
BHP's move is more simply a recognition of the fact that it will be hard to scale up diamond mining.

The miner said last Tuesday that it was reviewing its diamond business, with an eye to selling off some or all of these assets. The problem? Diamond mines seem not to fit within its strategy of investing in "large, long life" assets that have potential for expansion.

The news came after the Oppenheimer dynasty last month exited the diamond industry, ending decades of involvement as the family finally agreed to hand over control of producer De Beers to mining giant Anglo American.

On top of this, rough diamond prices have been on a downwards path in recent months. Pricing is complex with no single market, but indices show that after recovering strongly from the crash during the depth of the financial crisis, prices have softened markedly from their June 2011 highs as fears for the global economy have risen.

So do these developments signal that the rocks have lost some of their sparkle? Not quite.

BHP's move is more simply a recognition of the fact that it will be hard to scale up diamond mining, while the Oppenheimers' exit can be more accurately read as a sign of confidence in the fundamentals of the industry from Anglo.

Prices are still nowhere near the troughs of recent years – diamonds have been among the best performing commodities of 2011 – and the longer-term outlook looks positive. Petra Diamonds on Friday gave a presentation predicting that worldwide diamond production will remain flat until 2017, against a backdrop of growing demand.

A "significant" gap between supply and demand will emerge, it believes. Many of the world's major diamond mines are in decline, yet no major sites have been discovered since the 1990s.

Against this backdrop Tiffany & Co, the jewellers, and watchmaker Swatch are both said to be investigating ways to secure their rough diamond supply.

Who is driving this market? India and China, unsurprisingly, as the world's economic power keeps shifting to the rapidly growing East.

Although the US is still the largest market for diamonds, it cannot be too long before it will be overtaken by China – and in a flurry of confetti. Only 15 years ago, there was virtually no culture of diamond engagement rings, while today more than half the brides in Beijing and Shanghai receive them, according to Anglo American.

Meanwhile in India, demand is so high that in a Mumbai mall one company has opened the first of its planned ATM machines selling diamond jewellery and gold coins. As emerging markets urbanise further, the world is expected to add another 800m middle-income consumers by 2030 – with half of these big spenders in China and India.

That is why Graff, the London jewellers, is preparing to list in Hong Kong, a move seen as being as much about raising its profile in an increasingly important market as it is about raising funds. Similarly Chow Tai Fook, Chinese diamond retailer, is preparing for what may be Hong Kong's biggest initial public offering this year.

Should this all sound as if diamonds are becoming increasingly democratised, Petra predicts that the major beneficiaries of its forecast shortage of rough diamonds will be producers of the big, better quality gems – where supply is tightest. The super-rich do tend to weather a downturn better than anyone, and demand for the shiniest rocks looks particularly healthy.

Diamonds are not without their shorter-term headwinds, however. Volatility will inevitably remain as the eurozone crisis drags on, while a slowdown in China would hit sales. And, like the wider mining sector, the diamond industry faces the increasing headache of resource nationalism, whereby governments make moves to enjoy a bigger share of the riches dug out of their lands. Just last week, it emerged that Zimbabwe is planning to raise the fees charged to mine diamonds.

Still, in the long term, the future looks bright for diamonds. Sparkling, you could say.

• Platinum prices are set to be boosted by the needs of the recovering auto sector and rising investment demand, according to consultancy GFMS.

It sees prices strengthening as high as $1,800 (£1,154) next year, even as supply hits a five-year peak. Spot platinum is down 12pc so far this year, bumping around $1,550 an ounce. There is an upside for some – the shrinking cost gap with gold means that people who would have defaulted to a white gold engagement ring are trading up to platinum.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ferrari studs its history with 1,500 diamonds

Launches Rs 8.2 cr official Ferrari Opus Enzo Diamante edition
World’s favourite sports carmaker Ferrari aims to rake in an all time high of over $1.6 million (Rs 8.2 crore) from sale of the official Ferrari Opus Enzo Diamante edition in India. The book, which contains anecdotes from the top Ferrari officials and engineers to latest models and Ferrari’s historic arc­hives that have never been published before, is studded with diamonds.

The Italian carmaker claimed that the book would be one of the most expensive sold in India. In fact, it costs more than the company’s models that have been launched between Rs 2.2 and Rs 3.4 crore earlier this year.

The base price for the unique book had been kept at $250,000. The auction, which started yesterday, will be held for a week. Top high net worth individuals including corporate honchos are expected to attend the auction and bid for the single copy of the Ferrari Opus. India is the seventh country where the exclusive Enzo Diamante edition of the book will be sold after the US, Spain, Belgium, UK and Australia.

“We sold the Opus in 2007 for $1.6 million. We think we can surpass this figure in India. We have already received interest from four individuals today (Thursday),” said Karl Fowler, chief executive at Opus. The exclusive book is limited to only one copy per country to guarantee exclusivity. It features a 30-carat diamond-encrusted Ferrari horse made up of 1,500 specially selected stones.

Asiroya Holdings, a 40-year old Dubai based company run by people of Indian origin, has manufactu­red the exclusive diamonds used in the book for Ferrari. “These are top quality rare white diamonds of VVS (grade quality),” said Anshul Siroya, managing director of Asiroya. “Opus, like a Ferrari, is a unique experience,” said Antonio Ghini, editor-in-chief of the Ferrari magazine and creative advisor on the project. The Opus weighs 37 kg and is encrypted with 200,000 words and 2,000 pictures across 852 pages.