Under the watchful eye of Adrian Cheng, Chow Tai Fook rolls out what may be the most expensive diamond necklace in the world, writes Tara Loader Wilkinson
hen a 507-carat diamond was prised from the grey Kimberlite of the Cullinan Mine in South Africa in 2009, it made global headlines. The rare Type IIA diamond was among the world’s 20 largest and was born in the same mine as the rock in the British Crown Jewels.
The stunning Cullinan Heritage diamond went up for auction in 2010, as the throes of recession continued to ripple through the world’s financial markets. But at the highest echelons of the luxury industry, there was still plenty of room for growth. Through fierce competition, the only Asian jeweller in the bidding—hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook—won the diamond. A final price of US$35.5 million (HK$275 million) set a world record for a rough diamond.
Fast forward five years and Chow Tai Fook’s 35-year-old heir apparent, Adrian Cheng, is proudly unveiling the masterpiece hewn from the Cullinan Heritage. “When we first bought it, we hadn’t really decided what to do with it,” he admits, as we meet at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong. “The design took two years and then three years of cutting, polishing and assembling.” The painstaking process clearly paid off—we’re gazing at what could be the most expensive diamond necklace in the world, which media sources have estimated at US$200–500 million.
The original diamond was cut into 24 smaller D-colour internally flawless (DIF) diamonds. The largest diamond has been cut into a 104-carat round brilliant with the highest possible cut grade. The large stone in
Adrian Cheng the centre is offset by its 23 sister diamonds cut from the Cullinan Heritage, as well as 10,000 smaller white diamonds and more than 500 pink diamonds, adding up to around 383 carats. World-renowned designer Wallace Chan work on the piece and interspersed the diamonds with hints of green jadeite and mutton-fat white jade, adding to the richness.
Astonishingly, this necklace is not for sale. Cheng is adamant that the piece, named A Heritage in Bloom, has been created to showcase one of the most intricate pieces of jewelled works of art from contemporary China—one to be displayed around the world as an example of Chinese creativity.
“It’s a crown jewel for the Chow Tai Fook archives. We’re thinking about a global exhibition tour. It’s something that will reference China’s cultural identity to the rest of the world,” says Cheng.