World's priciest diamond to go on sale

    7:36 AM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
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    SINGAPORE (CBS) -- For someone with $55 million to spare on an egg-sized diamond, the world's most expensive necklace is on sale this month at a jewelry show in Singapore, reflecting Asia's growing appetite for precious gems and expensive baubles.

    Known as L'Incomparable, the necklace created by luxury jeweler Mouawad features a yellow, internally flawless diamond of more than 407 carats suspended from a rose gold setting that is studded with 90 white diamonds weighing nearly 230 carats.

    Jean Nasr, managing director of Mouawad in Singapore, declined to identify the nationalities of potential buyers.

    "Well we do have a couple of serious interests, of course they haven't seen the necklace yet and it will very soon be unveiled to them and we surely hope there will be somebody that will be interested and really understand the value, that this is something that cannot be duplicated," he said.

    "People that will get something like this are looking at it from a different perspective because this is definitely an investment piece, I mean, this is something, again, part of history, the weight of the stone being the largest, it's Guinness world record piece and obviously pieces like that can only appreciate in value so in terms of investment, I think this is a very serious piece," he added.

    The necklace, whose centerpiece diamond was found by chance in a pile of mining rubble by a young girl in the Democratic Republic of Congo about 30 years ago, will be the flashiest item on offer at the Singapore JewelFest on October 11-20.

    But there will be plenty of other glitz from U.S., European and Asian designers worth another $200 million or so.

    Singapore, a tiny Southeast Asian nation with the world's highest concentration of millionaires, has positioned itself as a destination for the ultra-rich with a busy wealth management industry, luxury properties, top hotels, gourmet restaurants, high-end boutiques and two casinos.

    While the city state boasts a very low crime rate, security will be extremely tight with so much jewelry on display to the public at a pavilion outside an upscale mall.

    It seems unlikely there would be a robbery in Singapore, like the daylight heist of about $136 million worth of jewelry on show at a hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes in July.

    But Filippo Melchionni, the man in charge of the team safeguarding the L'Incomparable necklace and the rest of the jewelry on show, is taking no chances.

    Security includes plain clothes supervisors, cameras, motion detectors and bullet-proof display cases but Melchionni said the most critical time is when the pieces are taken out to be shown to customers.

    "Here especially we have supervisor, not wearing the uniforms, it's important because to keep the stone always under control especially when they move out for display and they want to show potential buyer, it's the moment that the stone is under risk because they can be passed hand by hand to be exchanged, can happen many cases, bad experience happened already in the past," said Melchionni adding the stone will be sent back into the vault every night, transported in an armored truck.

    The show in Singapore, now in its 11th year, expects some Chinese buyers but many locals and visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Russia will also be there, said Kean Ng, chairman of the Singapore JewelFest.

    "We normally sell about 10 to 20 percent of what's on display and have a lot of follow-ups after the festival as well because, especially for much bigger pieces, it takes a little bit longer time to deal with the customers," he said.

    Ng also said that the Jewelfest would display all kinds of jewelry for different kinds of budgets.

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