November 2010 was the first time that Christie’s auctioned a necklace by an Indian jeweller. The piece in question, the “Golconda Lotus necklace” by Mumbai-based designer Nirav Modi, features a rare Golconda diamond at its centre with pink diamonds from Australia’s Argyle mines, held together by Ainra cut links—a trademark Modi design that replaces metal clasps with diamonds. It was auctioned for Rs 16.29 crore.
Modi, who retails out of the Nirav Modi boutique in Mumbai, is now back with another rare diamond—the Shalimar. Bought from Argyle in 2009, the diamond is set in a ring which will be exhibited in New York, Hong Kong, Perth and Tokyo between August and October.
The ring features the rarest stone produced by the Argyle mines: the pink diamond. “They comprise only 0.03% of global diamond production and this rarity makes them most valuable. While a 1-carat white diamond is Rs 5 lakh, 1 carat of round, vivid pink diamond would be Rs 1-5 crore,” says Modi.
While the quality of a diamond is measured by the 4 Cs, for pink diamonds the colour is measured, highest to lowest, as vivid pink, fancy intense, fancy and fancy light. The Shalimar is vivid pink and weighs 1.25 carats. “The only other instance we know of was a pink diamond owned by the Sultan of Brunei in 1987. That was 0.89 carats,” says Modi. The Shalimar ring is inspired by Goddess Lakshmi emerging from a lotus. Six layers of petals, each with handcrafted diamonds, are created in a mix of white and pink diamonds. In the centre sits the Shalimar as Lakshmi.
Another one of Modi’s creations is set to go to Sotheby’s in April. A pear-shaped ring which features the “endless cut” is estimated at $3-4 million (around Rs 13-18 crore).
The master craftsman is also one for diamond mythology. He narrates an anecdote popular in diamond circles. “At a New York ball in 1957, the Duchess of Windsor wore an exquisitely crafted diamond choker by Harry Winston. Guests were mesmerized by the size of it. Also present at the ball was Maharani Sita Devi, who eventually commented that the diamonds looked better on her feet. Winston had purchased a pair of anklets from the Maharani a few years ago and remounted the same jewels on to the choker.”