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The Enigma, a 555.55-carat fancy colored black diaond, which will be the only item on sale at an upcoming online action conducted by Sotheby’s. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s/Twitter)



Nothing about up Sotheby’s scheduled in several weeks’ time conforms to the description of “ordinary.” For one, only one item is on offer, and it is a huge polished black diamond. What’s more, the sale will be conducted online and cryptocurrency will be accepted as payment.

The diamond is a 555.55-carat black diamond called “The Enigma.” It will be unveiled at the Dubai Diamond Exchange and then conduct a lightening world tour before the online bidding begins on February 3, finishing on February 9. It will first travel to Los Angeles, where it will be available for viewing from January 24 to 26, and then to London from February 2 to 9.

Cut with 55 facets, “The Enigma is a marvel of rarity and size, and its brilliance and high polish are a testament to the delicate and highly skilled undertaking of diamond cutting,” said Nikita Binani, a jewelry specialist and head of sale at Sotheby’s London.

“Its sale represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the rarest, billion-year-old cosmic wonders known to humankind,” she added.

Although no information is available as to where it was discovered or polished, Sotheby’s has revealed that it belonged to the anonymous consignor for more than two decades. It is the first time the stone has been exhibited publicly or offered for sale.

According to Sotheby’s, The Enigma was listed in the Guinness World Records as far back as 2016.

The Carbonado diamondites, rare polycrystalline diamond, which were discovered near Bangui in the  Central African Republic. (Photo courtesy of James St. Johns at Wikimedia Commons)


Typically displaying a metallic appearance, natural black diamonds are opaque stones that completely block out light, mainly because dense clouds of mineral inclusions, made of graphite, pyrite and hematite.

The diamonds typically include cleavages or fractures, which are stained black because of graphitization. Because they are heavily included, they are difficult to cut and polish, hence the uniqueness of 55-carat stone like The Enigma.

Some of the black diamonds that have been made available on the market are in fact dark green, and were actually low quality rough goods that were subject to irradiation to change their color. Care should be taken. In the past there have been There have been reports of artificially created black stones that were still radioactive.

One variety of black diamonds is Carbonado. Less of a complete stone, it is actually a polycrystalline mass, from a blend of diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. Sourced mainly in the the Central African Republic and Brazil, it has been has suggested that they were formed as the result of a supernova explosion, which occurred in outer space at least 3.8 billion years ago, and fell to earth as meteorite approximately 2.3 billion years ago. The fact that its remains have been discovered on two different continents can be explained by tectonic movement.

Before The Enigma, the largest polished black diamond was thought to be a Carbonado. Called Spirit of de Grisogono, it was mined as a 587-carat rough stone in the  Central African , and cut by the Swiss jeweler De Grisogono into a 312.24-carat polished diamond, and set in a white gold ring together with 702 small white diamonds.


The most famous black diamond is almost certainly the 67.5-carat Black Orlov. Purportedly discovered in India in the early 1800s as 195-carat rough stone, after being cut and polished, it became an eye in a statue of the Hindu god Brahma, in a shrine in the state of Tamil Nadu.

The Black Orlov was believed to be cursed, with legend saying that this is because was stolen from the Hindu shrine, eventually finding its way to a Russian royal family called the Orlovs, from which it received its name. They were fled their homeland during the Bolshevik revolution, selling the stone to finance their stay in exile.


Black Orlov Diamond

The 67.5-carat Black Orlov, long thought to be cursed. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

But the curse on the black diamond was said to remain. In 1932, a diamond dealer who imported the Black Orlov into the United States jumped to his death from a New York skyscraper. Fifteen years later, two of the Russian princesses who also earlier owned the diamond also leapt to their deaths.

The Black Orlov is today owned by a diamond dealer from Pennsylvania, who bought it in 2005 in 2005. He insists that the curse has been broken.