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Optimum Hue

Mira Dayal

David Shara, dealer of rare colored diamonds, explains the depths of the trade:

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but seldom do her companions come in the vivid yellow, pink, blue, green, orange and red hues ofered by New York–based rare gem dealer David Shara.

“It is painstaking to find these diamonds,” said David, owner of Optimum Diamonds LLC.

While there are a few large diamond mines in Russia, Botswana, South Africa, and China, the Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia’s remote northwestern region is especially significant. According to David, the mine yields about 20 million carats a year, making it the world’s largest supplier of natural colored diamonds. Of that, there will be only enough red, pink and blue diamonds to fill one cup.

“That can be a billion-dollar cup,” says David, adding that last year, Argyle produced several hundred carats, but placed just 64 of the best (61 pink and blue diamonds and three red diamonds) in auction, the largest being three carats. Despite the miniscule output, Argyle produces about 90 percent of the world’s rare pink diamonds.

Bringing the precious rock to the surface is just the beginning of the process of creating a priceless gem. 

“Do you want to make one big stone and leave all the flaws inside? Do you want to make two stones and make them clean cut?” David said. “It’s an enormous optimization puzzle.”

David took an unusual route to the rare diamond business. “I was going to be a fish farmer,” he said, adding that he studied marine biology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“Then I had an internship opportunity here in New York with a big manufacturer to do some hardware and software testing for some optimization technology...and I sort of came into diamonds from the technology side.”

David honed his skills in the diamond marketplace by attending countless auctions and working with diferent dealers and cutters. “I went to every auction so I could learn about prices,” he said. “I went through every book and used previous auction books through the last 10 years to chart prices and set up spreadsheets.”

He said that significant value is derived from the cutting process alone; the proper cut allows for the highest amount of light and color to pass through the diamond body, creating the perfect shine.

Because recent advances in technology have enhanced the diamond forger’s toolbox, David requires the Gemological Institute of America seal of approval before each purchase. “The GIA has very sophisticated technology and spends tens of millions of dollars a year in research to keep up with criminals trying to outsmart their technology.”

Through all the labor and endless searching for the perfect stone, David savors the challenge of taking a once-molten rock that began its life 200 miles beneath the earth’s surface, at the bottom of a volcano before the beginning of time, and transforming it into a shining work of art.