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The Great Pumpkin (Diamond)

It’s the eve of Halloween in 1997 and while most people were carving pumpkins, decorating their homes, and preparing spooky costumes for the next day’s trick-or-treat festivities, Ronald Winston (son of Harry Winston) of the famous “House of Winston” was bidding on a very precious Halloween treat at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewelry Sale in New York.  His winning bid of $1,322,500 secured for the “House of Winston” a very unusual 5.54 carat diamond.  This diamond was graded by the Gemological Institute of America Laboratory as being a natural color Fancy Vivid Orange diamond.  In fact, GIA confirmed that this was the largest Fancy Vivid orange diamond that its lab had ever graded (at that time).  The purchaser, Ronald Winston, named the stone “The Pumpkin Diamond” in honor of Halloween and the stone’s remarkable pumpkin like color. 

The 11 carat rough diamond that eventually became “The Pumpkin Diamond” is believed to have been found in The Central African Republic in 1997.  The original owner of the stone was a farmer which suggests that it was probably discovered in his fields as an alluvial diamond (one that is carried away from the primary source by erosion).  News of this discovery caught the attention of William Goldberg in New York City who purchased the orangey brown rough diamond.  William Goldberg was no ordinary diamond dealer.  He was a diamantaire par excellence and a fixture in New York’s Diamond District.  In fact, the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 48th Street in New York City was named, and remains, William Goldberg Way.  And while many of the world’s famous diamonds have passed through the halls of the “House of Goldberg”, William Goldberg’s true talent was his ability to see the extraordinary potential hidden within an unremarkable rough diamond.  He saw something within that orangey brown rough diamond that no one else saw.  Once in New York, Goldberg and his team of diamond cutters began the process of unlocking the stone’s inner beauty.

The previously orangey brown rough diamond was expertly fashioned into a cushion cut diamond that took on a vibrant glowing orange color.  GIA certified it as an exceptionally rare Fancy Vivid orange color.  To understand how rare this diamond is, it is important to know that less than 1% of all diamonds possess an orange color and most of those have modifying colors such as yellow or brown.  Typically, on a GIA certificate most orange diamonds would be given a hue designation such as “yellowish orange” or “brownish orange”.  According to GIA nomenclature, the dominant color of these diamonds is orange but with yellow (or brown) modifying the orange.  Pure orange diamonds, without any modifying colors, are quite rare.  Furthermore, colored diamonds are graded based on their saturation (intensity) of color with the scale ranging from “Fancy” to “Fancy Intense” to “Fancy Vivid” with “Fancy Vivid” being the highest possible rating.  Fancy Vivid diamonds of any color are rare, but Fancy Vivid orange diamonds are exceptionally rare.  (Colored diamonds are also graded by hue which refers to the primary color of the diamond and tone which describes the lightness or darkness of the color)

Once cut and graded, “The Pumpkin Diamond” was put up for auction which is when Ronald Winston acquired the stone.  Winston had “The Pumpkin Diamond” set into a simple ring mounting with a crescent moon shaped white diamond on each side.  In 2002, the ring featuring “The Pumpkin Diamond” was worn by actress Halle Berry to the 74th Annual Academy Awards at which she became the first African American to win the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for her performance in the motion picture “Monster’s Ball”.  A year later, Winston had “The Pumpkin Diamond” removed from its setting and loaned the diamond to the Smithsonian Museum for its “The Splendor of Diamonds” exhibit which ran from June 27th to September 30th 2003.  The exhibition included other notable diamonds such as The Millenium Star (colorless), The Heart of Eternity (blue), The Alnatt Diamond (yellow), The Steinmetz Pink (pink), The Ocean Dream (blue-green), and The Mousaieff Red (red diamond also cut by William Goldberg). 

In March 2005, “The Pumpkin Diamond” was reportedly sold to an anonymous buyer for approximately $3 million US dollars.  In 2013, a newly discovered Fancy Vivid orange diamond named simply “The Orange” was put up for auction at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels Auction in Geneva.  “The Orange” eclipsed “The Pumpkin Diamond” in size.  It is a pear cut diamond that weighs a whopping 14.82 carats and is the largest Fancy Vivid orange diamond in the world.  At auction, “The Orange” fetched a record breaking $35.5 million US dollars which was the highest price-per-carat paid for any diamond at auction and also set a record for the highest price paid for any orange diamond at auction.

So this Halloween, as you stress about having enough candy and the mess being made as jack-o-lanterns are being carved in your kitchen, and as you wait for hordes of witches, goblins, princesses, and zombies to knock on your door, relax and imagine the glow of Fancy Vivid orange diamond on your finger.  At Howard’s Diamond Center, we specialize in making your dreams come true.