The curious case of the South African green diamond

September 8, 2007 at 3:00 am 2 comments

Greek nightLast week, I read that an extraordinarily large, green-hued diamond had been discovered in South Africa. What really gets my attention is any information about the perfect lipgloss that won’t get stuck in a girl’s hair or anything to do with sparkling, flashing diamonds. I have books that I periodically drool over, showing the jewellery collections of royalty or Elizabeth Taylor (husband Richard Burton gave her the Cartier diamond, weighing in at 240.80 carats rough and 69.42 carats cut – Burton gets serious brownie points IMHO). And that other heavyweight sparkler, the 3,106-carat Cullinan, was found in Gauteng Province, South Africa in 1905 and later became part of the Crown Jewels.

But both gems could be eclipsed by a diamond dubbed the Green Giant and said to weigh in at over 7,000 carats or twice the size of the Cullinan and around the size of a soccer ball. What I found intriguing was a couple of things: the only photo I’ve seen so far seems to be some grainy image snapped by a mobile phone and the owner is said to be a Mr Jolly – I sniffed a practical joke given the surname. The next intriguing thing was that the so-called discovery hit the news and then rapidly slid off the “hot news” item list. Diamond experts appear to have been taken by surprise by this monster diamond and the term “Fool’s Gold” was thrown around. And stories about the size of the diamond seemed to grow – from 7,000 carats to 8,120 carats or 1.64kg.

I wanted more information: who was this Mr Jolly? How much might this sparkler be worth – £50 million, £100 million? How did such a large diamond survive the mining process? Is it really a lower quality industrial diamond or just a huge, fancy coloured crystal? But information I found simply deepened the mystery about the Green Giant.

Nothing I like better than a good mystery, so I decided to go to the source: South Africa. Well, not personally although I’ve been there many times, but to my sister-in-law who lives in Johannesburg. What’s the goss I asked her? She told me that South African news and national radio was buzzing with talk about the diamond and how it was currently stashed away in some secret vault somewhere in Johannesburg. Kicking myself that I chose not to go to South Africa on my break (I’m on holidays now), she told me some more intriguing news, which sounds like it’s straight out of the novel, King Solomon’s Mines.

Apparently, the diamond could be the legendary skaapkop or sheep’s head shaped diamond, that an Afrikaner prophet, Siener van Rensburg, predicted would be found in the area where Jolly made his discovery. The prophecy said that two brothers would find the Skaapkop diamond. Breathlessly I asked whether there was a Jolly brother (no doubt equally as happy as his brother Brett!). But so far no-one seems to know if Jolly has a brother.

The Johannesburg-based president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, Ernest Blom, will be examining the stone. It’s not uncommon for gem discoverers to keep their find under wraps and shrouded in secrecy. But if the Green Giant is authentic, can you just imagine the bidding frenzy! Let’s just hope it’s not a blood diamond or perhaps cursed like the glorious blue-hued Hope diamond pinched from an idol in India (way bad karma!). Can’t wait to hear the verdict.

Although breaking news coming in today from South Africa is saying that the verification process has been carried out and that the sparkler is in fact one heck of a monster diamond. I’ll keep my eye on this story because if it is genuine, then this diamond will be one of the rarest ever found due to its pale green colour and size. Mmmm…..a trip to South Africa for Christmas is sure sounding good to me.

UPDATE: Sept 27 – it continues to be a curious case. A report coming in from South Africa Sept 27 says that the giant diamond has still not be verified. The President of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, Ernest Blom, says he has not sighted the sparkler and he is the only person who is permitted to check it out. Odd: you would think the dude who claims he discovered it would want it verified pronto. But apparently there are concerns over security and taking the diamond to the place where it would be examined in Johannesburg.

UPDATE: October 10 – oooh, this is getting so exciting! I wish I’d written this whole bizarre episode as a novel! This is the latest – Ernest Blom, has thrown his hands up in horror and says he will have nothing further to do with the whole diamond affair. He has still yet to catch a glimpse of the rock and has only seen a photo of the stone and says it looks like a disgusting lump of resin. Meanwhile, the dude who claims to have discovered the sparkler (although I think he really just made the initial announcement of the discovery), UK business man, Brett Jolly, is busy suing his former associates for fraud and theft.

Apparently, Jolly took a reporter to check the diamond. Drama ensued: the reporter was blindfolded and when the reporter and Jolly met up with Jolly’s associate, Andre Harding, the fur flew. Harding is one of the two miners said to have discovered the diamond. Jolly and Harding became involved in a shouting match, presumably because Harding said he was being followed by “Government agents”. He supposedly had the diamond in a safe welded to his car (mmmm….maybe not the smartest way to conceal a mega diamond. Car gets stolen…..).

Harding stopped by the side of the road and whipped out a diamond testing device. But somehow forgot to take the cap off the tester and had the device preset to flash “diamond”. Jolly rushed to a local police station to press charges of fraud and theft against Harding.

Another report says that the two miners actually showed Jolly the rock and he says it’s just a lump of plastic, hence the fraud allegations.  At least I think this is the latest in this wonderful saga!

UPDATE: dang, the whole thing’s a fraud. I was SO hoping that a wonderous sparkler had been found. Seems Brett Jolly is saying he’s the victim of a fraud involving South African property. Jolly is a property developer and claims that the people who told him of the diamond were trying to convince him to buy the land where they said it was found. Jolly is off to the police (and might like to take a few gemology classes so he can tell a diamond from a lump of plastic in the future).


Entry filed under: Bling, News opinion.

The internet has black holes I luv youse all!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Patrick Lambe  |  September 8, 2007 at 6:46 am

    Hey Kim… speaking from a taxonomic point of view, I think the time has come for you to adopt a new tag for “bling” – at some point I’m going to want to aggregate your stories of wondrous treasures!

  • 2. thinkingshift  |  September 8, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Serious advice from the man who has written THE best book on taxonomies! okay, Patrick will consider the taxonomy – bling, glittering treasure, sparkling jewels….


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