A Letter from Gabi Tolkowsky, Master Diamond Cutter
Sometime around Thanksgiving, 2001, I found Gabi Tolkowsky's mailing address on a diamond messageboard, so I decided to write to him. He lives in Antwerp, Belgium, which comes as no surprise because this is the diamond cutting capitol of the world.
Some of the questions I asked him were about a large pink diamond that he had cut several years ago. The stone was very large, somewhere between 20 and 30 carats, I told him I remembered reading. (He told me the name of the stone -- it is the Pink Sun Rise.) I also asked him about the rumor of the Centenary Diamond being sold, and how I thought this was very odd because the stone was in the Tower of London -- a museum. The Tower of London, as far as I know, is not known at all for selling any of its stones/artifacts/displays, so the rumor of the Centenary Diamond being sold struct me as very odd, especially because I did not hear about it earlier. The sale of a D-color Flawless-clarity 273.85-carat diamond is not something that would go unnoticed, or so I thought. Tolkowsky addresses this in the letter. He had heard the rumor too, but hadn't heard anything other than the fact it was sold. Maybe it was only being loaned to the Tower of London until a buyer could be found?
Antwerp, November 28th 2001
Dear Mr. Thompson,
Thank you very much for your letter. I admire your handwriting and most joyful to see that you too like to write with your pen and see the ink laying down your thoughts and feelings on the miraculous invention called "paper."
Effectively, the Centenary Diamond is shaped like a heart-shape, but it does not have a groove. The image I had in my brain was a shape which would adorn the turban of a Sultan on a Maharaja, legendary personalities of the past which only a few still subsist in our times.
I do believe that the Centenary Diamond was effectively sold. I do not know for what price. The rumor of the amount you mention came also to my knowledge. I do confirm that Mr. N. Oppenheimer did declare in public that the diamond was insured for $100 million.
The inspirations which get as to apply the designs of my various cuts are resulting from an imposed fact. Every diamond, large or small is a unique individual. None is similar to another. Its shape, volume, or hue, or inclusion, or purity in the rough appearance have a combined effect on the mind. All what happens is the fact of revolving the rough stone between two or three fingers and peering onto and into it with the small folding hand loupe (magnifying lens). The challenge results from a silent conversation "Diamond, what should you become?", "I should become the most beautiful." My answer should be the result, every rough diamond requests the same demand, my answer is the final result. To cut and polish the "Centenary Diamond" and the "Golden Jubilee", we did not try on cubic zirconium. We used hundreds of natural size copies of the stone made out of transparent resin. We did cut and polish two versions of the Centenary shape with different facet patterns on two large brown stones. The two stones have been sold a few years ago at Sotheby's, Geneva.
The first name of the "Golden Jubilee" was the "Unnamed Brown."
This rough diamond, weighing 755 carats, having a "warm", fabulous gold-brown color, was mined from the Premier Mine R.S.A. a year before the "Centenary Diamond" was mined from the same mine. Two giants. Representing two extremes - colorless and fancy intense yellow-brown. They represent without any doubt the individuality for each diamond. Such fact would not be apparent to man, if the two would weigh one or even twenty carats each, nobody would mention the subject of rarity, uniqueness.
The "Unnamed Brown" wa provided by De Beers so that I could test the special tools and cutting methods that I invented to apply for the cutting of the Centenary.
All the tools, cutting bench and methods have never been tested before. I have applied for patent registrations, which are in existence and are the property of De Beers.
While cutting and polishing the brown giant considered as being "the Ugly Duckling", the image of a "Magnificent Swan" emerged. The stone challenged me by its color, volume, shape, inclusions and size.
The "Unnamed Brown" became the largest ever polished one month before the "Centenary Diamond" was confirmed by GIA as the largest colorless, (flawless) pure modern diamond cut.
The silence reguarding the "Unnamed Brown" was evidently resulting from the fact that nobody expected such a surprise, and that the "Centenary Diamond" was the one which was chosen in 1988 to celebrate the "Centenary" of De Beers, was far more valuable, and had already a well organized and prepared promotional compaign which contributed a famous boost to the diamond trade since 1991.
The fancy pink diamond is effectively a unique diamond weighing 29.79 carats. Its name is "The Pink Sunrise."
Its rough shape, its volume, its color and purity demanded more than a year of cutting and polishing into a shape which could remind the "Centenary Diamond" but although certified pure, like the "Centenary", it has its individual "beauty" its only sole pattern of facets and design. The "Pink Sunrise" is first rare and unique historical diamond which was ready to appear in the beginning of the 21st century.
I do hope, that my lengthy "tale" will add facts to your wealthy knowledge, you may admit, are kept deep inside my heart and brain, as well as behind my eyes, added with many written details which I hope will appear one day in the book I am preparing.
P.S. The "Unnamed Brown" the "Ugly Duckling" became "The Golden Jubilee" when it was presented as a gift to the King of Thailand at the celebration of his 50 years being the King of his wonderful country. It became "The Magnificent Swan."