As should be a surprise to absolutely no one, the alleged “world’s largest diamond” turns out to have been a hoax.
The whole thing became unraveling when Brett Jolly, the businessman who has been the “spokesman” for the stone, went to examine it for the first time with Melody Brandon, a reporter for the Sunday Times in Johannesburg. I am still trying to get ahold of Jolly, but I just spoke with Brandon, who recounted for me her car ride with Jolly, armed with a diamond tester given to them by Ernie Blom of the WFDB.
After the car lost people trying to “follow” them, they met Andre Harding, Jolly’s business partner and owner of the land where the stone was supposedly found. (“He seemed very agitated,” Brandon says.) I’ll let her article pick up the story
We drive up and down an obscure piece of road for about 20 minutes to make sure we are not being followed … For “security reasons” I am blindfolded for part of the journey to the ‘farm’, as the mine is known ….
Brandon tries to use Blom’s tester, but Harding tells them it won’t work. Harding’s tester, however, is put on the stone and it flashes “diamond.” Then Brandon realizes something:
I keep Harding’s tester and on closer inspection discover that he hadn’t taken the cap off.
We figure out that Harding had it on manual mode, allowing him to preset the tester to flash “diamond” on the indicator.
Eventually, Harding and Jolly get in a screaming match, leaving the reporter frightened and briefly stranded in the middle of nowhere. You can read the rest here; it’s entertaining and well worth it.
Anyway, Jolly is now pressing charges for either fraud — or theft. “This poor man is still convinced there is a stone out there somewhere,” Brandon says.
Yhere may be a part of all of us that deep down that wishes this tale were true, but really, the story was ridiculous from the beginning, and there was never any proof, at any point, that the stone was a diamond or even existed at all. Brandon, who briefly held it, says it was “light” and didn’t feel like a diamond. “It had bubbles in it,” she says.
You really have to wonder how these people ever expected to get away with this. If you are going to claim something is the “world’s largest diamond,” you have to eventually get it certified by an independent expert. You can’t just rely for proof on a diamond tester with its cap on. Perhaps the owners may have wanted to just sell the land to Jolly and be done with it. But they could have claimed they found a 300-carat diamond and there wouldn’t have been all this commotion.
It is also pretty embarrassing how many media outlets picked up the story and ran it as gospel, though Brandon has her own explanation for the frenzy: “In South Africa, with our crime rate, it was an interesting story that didn’t involve death, destruction or mayhem.”
On a serious note, Ernie Blom deserves credit for insisting, amid the hubbub, the diamond’s provenance be determined and that it be sold in accordance with local and Kimberley regulations (especially with rumors it was smuggled.) It shows this industry just may no longer be the “Wild West” business it once was.
Anyway, it looks like this is over and done with. And Brandon says she learned a lesson: “Never get in a car with a stranger.”