Over the centuries, dozens of extraordinary diamonds have been uncovered in India, South Africa and other countries known for producing diamonds. There have even been a few from the United State of America. Some 32,000 diamonds have been discovered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas since 1972 when it was opened to the public. It’s the only active diamond property in the US. For $8 you can dig for diamonds there, and you can keep whatever you find, just like Brooke Oskarson did in June 2015.
She was driving home from a wedding, saw a sign for the park, and thought it would be good fun to stop in and see what the fuss was about. Diamonds? In Arkansas? After about 20 minutes of digging, she found a pebble and set it aside- thinking it was a piece of quartz crystal due to its size and unique shape. A little later, one of the park officials confirmed that her icicle shaped gem, weighing 8.52 carat, was the fifth-largest diamond found since the opening the park in 1972. She named it Esperanza, after her niece. Contemplating her extraordinary find, she took it to Neil Beaty, an independent certified gemologist appraiser in Denver Colorado, who advised her on what a truly unique find she had and worked with her to put together a strategy for the next steps. They sent it to the American Gem Society’s Laboratories (AGS) for type analysis. The lab confirmed what was already suspected – She had a Type IIa crystal, the rarest of the rare.
Two months later, after a flurry of activity, Brooke and Esperanza were at Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in North Little Rock, Arkansas for a world-first. A live cutting and polishing event for a named diamond. They flew in Master Diamond Cutter Mike Botha for the job. Using laser scans from the lab, Mike had spent those preceding two months designing a custom shape for the stone- thus ensuring that the final design of this national treasure is as exceptional as its provenance. A 7x7x3 faceted design with no table and two culets. It was designed to both maintain weight and show the light performance from every direction. He brought with him 500 pounds of excess baggage – Brutus, his personal cutting bench. This stone the only one of its kind, this design is the only one of its kind, and he would only get one try at it. It was the most challenging crystal Mike had ever cut and he was on a mission to make this the highlight of his 47-year long career.
Some 130+ hours later (at which stage we stopped counting the hours), she weighed in at 4.62ct, and over the next 6 weeks the pain-staking process to get her polish to the AGS Triple Zero standards was completed. It came as no surprise that both AGS and the Gemological Institute of America laboratories graded Esperanza as a D-colored, Internally Flawless.
To showcase this one-of-a-kind diamond, award winning jewelry designer Ian Douglas, from the Inspired Jewellery Group, was commissioned to design a pendant, which was then crafted to perfection by Byard F. Brogan in Philadelphia. The platinum piece is designed to be viewed from all angles to show off the three dimensional beauty of the stone and features a selection of smaller North American diamond- including a selection of Sirius Star® Diamonds from Embee Diamonds of Canada, Mr. Botha’s company.
Valued at $1 million, many feel that Esperanza will end up bringing a lot more in a sealed bid auction. It is currently available for viewing at Whiteflash in Houston and will be at Underwood’s San Marco in Jacksonville Florida from February 9th through 14th. Interested parties are invited to place a bid with any of the participating retailers. The bidding process closes on February 15th, and if the reserve has been met, the diamond will be sold to the highest bidder.
Follow Esperanza at www.facebook.com/theesperanza
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Written by Evert P. Botha & Neil Beaty