By Michelle Graff

If you follow the auction market, you know that fancy-colored diamonds are the stones of the moment.

Only one in every 10,000 gem-quality diamonds is colored, but the stream of press releases that have been generated by Christie's and Sotheby's this fall, in anticipation of their Magnificent Jewels sales, suggests otherwise. The promotional blitzkrieg makes me wonder: If the rocks are so rare, why bother drawing attention to them at all? Besides, who but the Sultan of Brunei can afford them? As it turns out, there are more wealthy buyers with a penchant for rare collectibles out there than you'd think.

In October, Sotheby's sold a blue diamond for $1.3 million per carat. Christie's retaliated in November with the sale of a 2.26-carat purplish-red diamond for $1.2 million per carat. Laurence Graff, the London jeweler, took home the latter, while anonymous buyers from the Middle East, Asia and Russia are behind the other sales, helping to drive prices to previously unimaginable heights.

A friend of mine, Alan Bronstein, knows the story of this marketplace better than most. He's a colored-diamond dealer who began his career in New York in 1980. Since then, he has amassed the Aurora Collection of 267 colored diamonds, whose rainbow selection of stones run from $1,000 per carat to $1 million. If you're passing through London between now and April 25th, don't miss the opportunity to see the collection at the Natural History Museum's "The Vault," a new permanent gallery of gems, crystals, metals and meteorites from all around the world.

Actress Dame Helen Mirren, who is pictured viewing the Aurora Collection at The Vault's launch event on Nov. 28th, "highlighted the Aurora as one of her favorite parts of the gallery," according to a museum spokesperson.

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