ALROSA is known as the largest diamond mining company throughout the world. However, not everyone is aware that it has its own diamond-cutting division. For a long time, the activity of DIAMONDS ALROSA remained in the shadows, only occasionally attracting the attention of journalists.
However, recently the Dynasty, a unique diamond collection produced by DIAMONDS ALROSA, was sensationally presented first in Moscow, then at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok and later in Hong Kong. The collection, which already created a great deal of excitement, will be put up for sale in November at an online auction based on ALROSA’s own IT platform.
Pavel Vinikhin, Director of DIAMONDS ALROSA told Rough & Polished about the work on the collection, prospects of its international tour and plans for further development of the diamond cutting business he runs.
What is so unique about the Dynasty Collection?
For example, the fact that five top-quality diamonds are made from one very large rough diamond weighing 179 carats, which was extracted two years ago at the Nyurba Mine in Yakutia. The name of Dynasty was first given to the largest of diamonds and then to the entire collection. Each of the five diamonds carries the names of dynasties of the Russian elite associated in one way or another with the development of jewelry business in the country. Besides, the Dynasty name recalls the continuous tradition of the famous Russian Cut used in diamond manufacturing, as well as the domestic craftsmen starting from the establishment of the first gem-cutting factory at the beginning of the 18th century under Peter I.
The uniqueness of the collection is also highlighted by the fact that its central diamond is the purest and most expensive of all that has ever been cut in Russia. This gemstone is attributed to the highest diamond-cutting quality grade of Triple Excellent, which is found in less than 1% of polished diamonds in the world. The entire collection was certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which confirmed its unique characteristics. And this was a proof of the skill owned by our diamond-cutters who had done all the work, starting from computer marking to sawing and polishing these stones.
How did the work on the collection proceed?
Having received the stone in July 2015, we met with technologists and marketing specialists several times. The planning took about a year – that is, for a whole year we decided on how to make this stone. Usually, everything is done in quite a simple manner: a rough diamond is scanned by a computer program to simulate various shapes of polished diamonds to be cut from it and even calculate their possible prices. You can compare them and choose the most profitable option. But in the case of Dynasty everything went offbeat: the rough diamond was so large that it did not fit into the scanning machine.
So, the stone had to be marked by hand. The matter was complicated by the fact that it was originally coated in a “shirt,” that is covered with a slightly transparent layer. We had to start with the arrangement of “windows,” polishing the diamond from different sides to look inside. There were two cracks in the stone, and our technologists decided to cut it first along the cracks.
Of course, this was a certain risk. The stone was tense, so it was impossible to cut it with a disc. It was necessary to resort to laser sawing, and it is much more dangerous: the diamond could burst due to heating. But, fortunately, our specialists know their business and everything ended well, although I should confess the stress was significant.
At the very beginning, seeing the high characteristics of the rough diamond, we set ourselves an ambitious task: to obtain the largest diamond as possible with the best possible characteristics. We immediately realized that we were going to produce a round stone weighing more than 50 carats. The other stones were “born” in the process. It took over a year to cut and polish the diamond and our legendary craftsmen Nikolay Bogachev, Sergey Timonin, Alexey Tsurikov and Vladimir Konovalov, who are technologists and cutters with many years of experience under the belt, have tried very hard, and we are proud of the result they achieved.
The collection was shown in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Vladivostok. How is the international tour going now?
Recently, we showed the Dynasty in Hong Kong, and saw the interest there, including from collectors. In the second half of October, we were planning a show in Israel at our office in Ramat Gan, where we currently registered all those wishing to see it. In November, a presentation is planned in the US, in New York. The collection is not ordinary, so, of course, it evokes a lot of emotions among all people.
The online-auction is slated for November. What do you expect from it?
This will be our first online auction for the sale of diamonds. By November, we will send invitations and access codes to all customers who have expressed interest, and we will also announce the date of the auction. Many of the participants have already seen this collection live and these are major dealers and well-known diamond and jewelry companies.
This auction is a very important event for us. We have not sold such stones yet, we have never conducted road shows in various countries and did not organize online sales. Everything happens for the first time, and this is a kind of challenge for us. We think that everything will go well, and the number of interested buyers gives us the reason to believe that we can get a good price. Such unique stones as our collection are usually always in high demand and are not subject to market volatility.
What is changing in the activities of your company and what are the prospects for its development?
Right now, we are in the process of “reformatting” the diamond-cutting business. Today, DIAMONDS ALROSA has two production floors, in Moscow and Barnaul. Small-sized rough diamonds will be completely processed in Barnaul. This is dictated by the trends of the world economy: diamond manufacturing is being transferred from large and expensive cities to places where it is cheaper. We cut expensive large stones in Moscow. This kind of rough needs a different approach: the prime cost of processing large stones does not play a big role in the stone’s final value, but a very important role is played by technology, equipment and craftsmanship of cutters. Today we even leave most of the operations for marking and sawing rough diamonds in Moscow, since the equipment here is better and craftsmen are more experienced, so we send to Barnaul stones already prepared for cutting.
During the presentation of the collection in Moscow, Sergey Ivanov, President of ALROSA pointed to the possibility of developing the company’s diamond cutting complex, including by way of cutting unique and colored stones. The work on the Dynasty Collection proved that we are able to do this at the highest level.
That is, DIAMONDS ALROSA plans to focus its operations on cutting unique diamonds?
Not only, but unique collections will become one of our key business activities. And we are preparing the infrastructure to develop the company in this direction. Putting up the Dynasty Collection for sale at the online auction, we give a start to our e-platform, where we will subsequently display other products, including colored and unique diamonds.
Recently, it was announced that a rare pink diamond weighing 27.85 carats had been recovered by Almazy Anabara, ALROSA’s subsidiary. Is it decided to sell it as a rough diamond or to cut by DIAMONDS ALROSA?
When the company recovers unique rough diamonds, we give our forecast for what kind of polished diamonds we can make from it. Then the company decides whether to cut this stone or sell it as a rough diamond. As for the pink diamond, now it is being studied by the experts of USO ALROSA and our experts, and no final decision has been made so far. But there are already a number of other large stones that we will soon get for processing.
We work a lot on technology, we combine modern technologies with the traditions of the Russian diamond cutting. To date, we have very good equipment, exactly one of the best in Russia and front-rank at the world level – this is noted by foreign experts who come to visit our production facilities. We continue technical re-equipment, we are currently expecting to receive additional diamond marking systems and we are modifying lasers. And, of course, we have very good diamond cutters, they are all extra-class specialists.
Over the past 25 years, there has not been a single diamond coming from Russia that could be compared in terms of its quality and color characteristics with the Dynasty diamond. The ‘Russian Cut’ brand continues its life, but if earlier it was not related to the name of ALROSA, now we also take part in the revival of these traditions and we hope to make a worthy contribution to the promotion of Russian diamonds in the world market.
Photo © ALROSA.