By Michelle Graff

When I was a kid, I loved it when our class’ annual field trip was to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Back then, life didn’t get much better than an afternoon out of the classroom surrounded by dinosaur bones. Fast-forward some 20 years to that same sweet, adorable child's life as an (alleged) adult living in New York City, and it’s easy to understand why one of my favorite attractions is the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH).

So when approached by gemologist Joshua Sheby of New York-based Scarselli Diamonds Inc. about spending an afternoon in the museum's Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems, I naturally jumped at the chance.

Sheby spent years as a diamond grader specializing in fancy colors with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has been with Scarselli for two years now. He curated the “Olympia Diamond Collection,” Scarselli’s grouping of five natural-color diamonds loaned to the AMNH for its current display of diamonds.


The diamonds in the Olympia collection range in size from 1.01 to 2.34 carats and they all have three things in common:

  • They're untreated; their color is entirely natural.

  • They’re all radiant-cut stones.

  • All three are graded "fancy vivid" by the GIA, the colorless diamond equivalent of a "D."

My personal favorite in the collection is the vivid orange (second from right), and I am not just saying that because I have an affinity for fall, carving pumpkins and Halloween, or because it was the largest of the collection, weighing in at more than two carats.

When I first started working at National Jeweler, natural-color diamonds appealed to me from the start. In first learning about the stones, I was told that red and purple diamonds are the most rare when talking color. But Sheby said based on his knowledge of the industry and experience as a grader, he believes orange diamonds—natural, untreated oranges, like the famous and delightfully named "Pumpkin Diamond” worn by actress Halle Berry when she accepted the Oscar for Monster's Ball in 2002—might actually top reds in rarity.

So how much would a stone like this one go for?

Sheby and Scarselli aren’t saying. But, with only one in 10,000 diamonds unearthed qualifying as a natural-color diamond, and with orange being among the rarest of these, I’m going to guess this 2.34-carat stunner would command a pretty hefty price. 

Guess I’ll just stick to admiring orange diamonds from afar.

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