Professional Jeweler Archive: Feast for the Senses

January 2003


Feast for the Senses

Take a moment to celebrate fancy-color diamonds through the eyes of a collector

‘What first attracted me to rare colored diamonds over 20 years ago was their incredible variety,” says Alan Bronstein, president of Aurora Gems, Inc., New York City. “Every fancy colored diamond was different – even in so-called matched-pairs. It was a concept many of my peers didn’t get; they’d ask themselves how anyone could make a business out of one-of-a-kind.”

Bronstein kept going despite the naysayers, and his peers acknowledge got in on the ground level of a color market that has gone wild. The sale of a 0.95-ct. purplish red diamond in the late 1980s triggered the worldwide focus. It sold for a record per-carat price of $1 million, a figure that surprised even Bronstein.

Today, he’s considered an ultimate expert in fancy colors because he can sense the pulse of the colored diamond market around the globe.

Bronstein, working the phone from his office in Manhattan, points to a collection of fancy colors called the Butterfly Collection, named because the assortment is shaped like a butterfly. Like the Aurora Collection Bronstein assembled before it, Butterfly was at least a decade in the making.

Butterfly features a rainbow of fancy colors in assembled quantities. Both collections have been featured in museum exhibits around the world, including the Nature of Diamonds exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

Bronstein tracks his delight for color to a single vivid yellow diamond he saw in a dealer’s office as a teenager. “It was my epiphany; I needed to know more,” he recalls. “I saw strong fancy diamonds as a unique path to developing a specialized niche in the diamond community.

Mistaken Identity

“I began to see the idiosyncrasies of each diamond – each has a personality of its own. I developed comparison sets with yellows, pinks and blues.” [Note: natural greens are too rare to develop comparison sets]. Bronstein says he has no particular favorites among his diamonds, but admits to some favorite stories.

One day, for example, a dealer offered a diamond for sale to a friend of Bronstein’s. “It was the nicest olive green I’d ever seen, a fancy dark yellowish grayish green,” he remembers. He soon had the stone tucked away in his safe. When he opened the safe a week later, the stone was dark yellow. A nervous Bronstein was on the brink of some tough phone calls (yellow is far less valuable than green), when he noticed it had returned to green. It was a rare chameleon diamond. Ironically, just a few months later, that same friend asked Bronstein if he’d ever seen a chameleon diamond and asked Bronstein to show him one.

For more information, collectors can buy Forever Brilliant, Ashland Press/Aurora Gems, New York City, a book by Alan Bronstein and Stephen Hofer concerning the Aurora Collection.

• Aurora Gems, New York City; www.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Alan Bronstein examines the Butterfly Collection, assembled over a decade or longer. “The Aurora and the Butterfly Collections are hopefully a legacy for generations to come which will show diamond’s amazing diversity,” he says. Photo by Robert Weldon.

Copyright © 2003 by Bond Communications