More than $1 billion of jewelry showcased at Bahrain’s annual exhibition

More than $1 billion worth of diamonds, gem-sets, gold and silver are on display—with tight security—at the Tuesday opening of an annual exhibition in Manama, Bahrain, The Associated Press reports.

Among the most expensive items was the Korloff Black Diamond, at 88 cts. the world’s largest black diamond. Three bodyguards stood by the glass case that held the Korloff diamond as dozens of onlookers swarmed around it, the AP reports.

Organizers said the diamond, owned by French jewelers Korloff Paris, was “priceless,’ the AP reports.

The Korloff Black Diamond was originally the property of the Russian Korloff Sapojnikov family, which sold it in 1920. For the past 20 years, the diamond has been owned by Frenchman Daniel Paillasseur, who named his company after the diamond that is said to bring fortune to whoever touches it.

Bahrain’s Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who inaugurated the exhibition, was lucky enough to touch the diamond, Bahraini jeweler Ali Kadhem, 48, who has business ties with Korloff, reportedly said.

Meanwhile, armed police guarded the entrances and exits of the Bahrain Exhibition Center, a notable increase in security over previous years. Last year, a $1 million Cartier necklace was stolen from one of the stands, the first such theft at the exhibition, which began in 1992, The AP reports.

Some 500 companies from 27 countries, including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong, India and Thailand, were talking part in the five-day fair and exhibition, dubbed “Jewelry Arabia 2003.”