A reported record-shattering 8,000 ct. diamond made headlines around the world—but later was revealed to be a hoax. The stone, discovered in South Africa, was said to be more than double the weight of the 3,100 ct. Cullinan, considered the world’s largest.
The spokesman for the diamond’s owner, South African businessman Brett Jolly, told JCK the man described it “as the most beautiful perfect shape, color, and clarity he has ever seen. It breaks all rules when it comes to the diamond industry.”
The stone shown in pictures is a perfect octahedron, also exceedingly rare. Readers who saw pictures of it through a link on the JCKonline blog Cutting Remarks guessed it was a “garnet,” “topaz,” and “big hunk of green glass.”
The story began to unravel when Jolly went to test the store, accompanied by Melody Brandon, a reporter from the Johannesburg Sunday Times. Brandon, who was blindfolded for part of the journey, had a diamond tester from Ernie Blom, the South Africa–based president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, who was brought in to authenticate the stone.
But when they met Andre Harding, Jolly’s business partner and owner of the land where the stone was supposedly found, he wouldn’t let them use Blom’s tester, saying it “wouldn’t work.” Brandon briefly held the stone and found it “too light” for a diamond. “It had bubbles in it,” she says. When Harding tested the stone with his own device, Brandon noticed it still had its cap on and was set to “manual,” so he could manipulate it.
When Harding was confronted about this, he “turned pale,” Brandon says, “and went on this ramble that he had to speak to his lawyer.” Then Jolly and Harding got into a screaming match, leaving Brandon briefly stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Jolly, who did not return calls from JCK once the hoax was revealed, has told the media he will press charges and that he believes the actual stone was stolen. “This poor man still believes there is a stone out there somewhere,” Brandon says.
Blom has disassociated himself from the story. “Something just wasn’t right,” he says.