Gawking at two of the rarest diamonds in the world – right here in Singapore
After snapping up the world’s second largest diamond, Louis Vuitton announced the acquisition of a second impressive gem early this year – the weighty 549-carat Sethunya diamond. In a rare feat, both gems are now being showcased in Singapore.
We can all agree that 2020 has been unlike any other year. While some of us would go so far as to call it the worst year ever, there’s no denying that 2020 will go down in the books as a difficult period. Amid lockdowns, travel bans and so on, it’s been hard to find little bouts of joy in our everyday lives.
Which is how I find myself increasingly looking at pretty things, like jewellery, as a form of distraction and escapism.
So when Louis Vuitton extended an invitation to view two of its rarest diamonds in the world at a “secret location”, suffice to say, I was intrigued.
That secret location turned out to be Capella Singapore on Sentosa, where the fashion house has taken over one of the hotel’s colonial manors for its high jewellery showcase.
But first, a little backstory: In a bid to demonstrate the house’s ambition to be a serious player in the high jewellery field, Louis Vuitton acquired the world’s second biggest diamond, the 1,758-carat Sewelo, in January this year.
While the acquisition of the Sewelo was certainly surprising, Louis Vuitton shocked the jewellery world again when it announced a second diamond discovery. This time, it was a 549-carat rough diamond of superlative quality from the Karowe Mine in Botswana, named the Sethunya.
To see the Sewelo up close in its natural, uncut form is already a rare opportunity. After all, it is the second largest diamond in the world. The first, the Cullinan diamond uncovered in 1905, has already been cut up.
But to see the Sewelo together with the Sethunya, also in its uncut state, is an even rarer feat, a Louis Vuitton representative reminded us at the press presentation. Rough diamonds are very seldom presented directly to clients.
Before seeing the two stars of the show, however, we were brought on a tour of Vuitton’s latest high jewellery collection, Stellar Times. Designed by Francesca Amfitheatrof, artistic director of jewellery for Louis Vuitton, the collection draws inspiration from the galactic universe.
Personally, I found the theme very apt for a time when we all wish we could escape Earth.
The collection is divided into seven outer-space themes – Lune Bleue, Apogee, Planete Bleue, Celeste, Astre Rouge, Interstellaire and Soleils.
Some of the standout pieces include the Planete Bleue necklace. The choker is set with a 4.63-carat Zambian green emerald representing Earth, along with a Monogram flower-cut diamond, before swooping over the neck and ending at the decolletage with a blue sapphire from Madagascar, reminiscent of the depths of the ocean.
Iridescent opals take centre stage for Celeste, where structural earrings and bracelets evoke the beauty of the constellations. The Soleils jewellery pieces feature yellow sapphires, reflecting the power of the sun.
We were then ushered to a separate room to view the two diamonds specially flown in to Singapore. The Sewelo needs little introduction, having already showcased here back in August.
The Sethunya, however, captivated with its translucent beauty. While the glinting black Sewelo is still coated with a layer of carbon, the Sethunya is stunningly pure and white. As the Louis Vuitton representative very poetically described, both diamonds, sitting side by side, appeared to represent both yin and yang.
After several attempts to take a good photo of the Sethunya on my own, I concluded that the beauty of the gem is best seen in real life.
The Sethunya is estimated to be between one to two billion years old. Its name translates to "flower" in the Southern African Setswana language, a nod to Louis Vuitton’s emblematic Monogram flower.
While the estimated pricings of both diamonds are kept confidential, the Sethunya diamond is estimated to be of higher value than the Sewelo, although it’s smaller in size. Unlike the Sethunya, the Sewelo is covered with a thin layer of black carbon, thus its true potential still remains a mystery.
For interested parties with very deep pockets, Louis Vuitton can create bespoke high jewellery pieces from the two diamonds, with the clients involved in the entire creative process.
As with the Sewelo, Louis Vuitton has joined with Lucara, a leading producer of large, exceptional quality diamonds and owner of the Karowe diamond mine where the gem was discovered; and HB Antwerp, a world-renowned diamond supply chain and manufacturing company, to design and polish the Sethunya for its clients.
“Our clients are searching for uniqueness, something that they cannot find somewhere else. Globally there is an increased demand for one-of-a-kind creations,” said Michael Burke, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Louis Vuitton.
The Sethunya is expected to yield exceptionally beautiful polished stones of the highest quality in clarity and colour. Cutting possibilities from the Sethunya are multiple, and could include two exquisite 100-carat proprietary LV signature-cut polished diamonds. Unique to Louis Vuitton is the ability to cut diamonds in the signet of the house’s iconic Monogram – the LV Flower Cut, and the LV Star Cut, a star-shaped motif.
There’s also the possibility of purchasing the whole diamond, if one so wishes, to create heirloom jewellery for the entire family, cut from the same gem.
Gemstones are truly one of the most beautiful, natural creations from Mother Earth. Leaving the showcase, one thought sprang into my mind. For all the hardships nature has given us this year (here’s looking at you, COVID-19), we can’t deny that Mother Earth does have her little gifts too.
Louis Vuitton's High Jewellery showcase runs from now till Dec 7 and is by appointment only. Interested parties may book a private appointment via Louis Vuitton Client Services at +65 6788 3888