Korloff Noir - The Gargantuan Black Diamond

Weighing in at 88 carats, sporting 57 perfect edges, known by rock hounds around the globe as nature's "greatest creation," ladies and gentlemen, the heavy-weight champion of the diamond world, Korloff Noir!

The gargantuan black diamond, insured for $37 million, is headed from its home in France to Salt Lake City for public display Nov. 24 from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Korloff PARIS boutique, which opened at The Gateway last February. The boutique, one of over 50 worldwide, is still the first and only of its kind in the United States.

Why should you go see it?

"How many times do you get the opportunity to be in the presence of something that is almost $40 million in value?" answered boutique manager Jessica Wall.

But Wall knows there may be those who on principle will stay away. They are skeptics of a diamond industry that in recent years has been forced to avoid dealing in diamonds that were mined in unsafe conditions or countries mired in conflict, all of which spawned the movie "Blood Diamond." Wall said that more strict regulations on her industry have reduced the number of "conflict" diamonds traded in the world to about 1 percent.

Besides the draw of this diamond's value, she added, there is the appeal of its history.

The Korloff Noir, before cutting and polishing, was 421 carats. It was passed along through generations of the Russian family of Korloff-Sapozhnikov, according to a press release about the diamond. In 1978, jeweler Daniel Paillasseur acquired the jewel, which today is considered the "soul and talismanic symbol" of his Korloff PARIS boutiques.

And then there's the mystique.

"It's supposed to bring luck and joy and happiness," Wall said. "It's the holiday season, and everyone wants that."

Legend has it that those who touch the diamond will find prosperity. Could it have been why Pete Sampras did so well at tennis or why Gary Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov made names for themselves in the world of chess? They all touched the diamond.

Word is that Russian figure skater Alexei Yagudin rubbed the gem sometime before striking gold in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

But Utahns won't be so lucky.

"No one is going to get to touch it," Wall said.

In fact, the stone will be surrounded by more security than an incarcerated Paris Hilton. The diamond will be escorted by police via armored vehicle from the Salt Lake City International Airport to the boutique at The Gateway. Once at Korloff's, it will remain under bulletproof glass, under constant watch by armed guards.

There will be other "rare and exquisite" pieces along for the ride, but the big diamond is the big deal here.

Wall compared viewing the Korloff Noir to looking at fine art in a museum. She said that while many people might be intimidated by her boutique's exclusive feel, they should at least stop in for a peek - look for her place next to J. Crew and behind some escalators. For those who do buy something at the boutique during the weekend of the diamond's visit, a portion of the proceeds of each sale will be donated to Children's Alliance.

By Stephen Speckman 
Deseret Morning News 
Published: November 17, 2007

Korloff Noir