'Star of Stanley Ho' a heavy dose of bling
Gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun showed off his new 218-carat diamond yesterday, which he had purchased for hundreds of millions of dollars to add glamour to his new flagship, the Grand Lisboa.
Named the Star of Stanley Ho, the Angola-mined stone measures 39.8mm by 36.2mm (a table tennis ball is 40mm in diameter) and 17.8mm high.
Its weight, 43.6 grams, the same as about three HK$5 coins, makes it the largest diamond of its kind in the world - cushion-shaped, flawless and colourless, or D-coloured.
It will soon go on display at the casino.
At its unveiling ceremony yesterday, mainland gamblers jostled outside the show area for a faraway glimpse.
Asked about its worth, the casino magnate said he preferred to leave the world guessing.
'I can't give out the exact price at the moment,' said an elated Mr Ho. 'It's a matter of hundreds of millions.
'Just think of it - some one-carat diamonds are worth over US$100,000, and their prices keep rising,' he added.
Mr Ho, 86, who was recently ranked by Newsweek as Asia's fourth-richest man with personal assets of US$7 billion, reported that the Gemological Institute of America had classified the Star of Stanley Ho as 'the largest cushion-shaped, flawless or internally flawless, D-colour diamond that we had graded'.
But it is far from being the world's biggest diamond. The Golden Jubilee is believed to be the largest cut diamond at 545 carats.
Among flawless, D-coloured diamonds of any shape, the Star of Stanley Ho ranks second-largest, after the Centenary Diamond weighing 273 carats - which was reportedly insured for US$100 million.
'One may say there is a 300-carat stone, but that's in E-colour grade - only slightly better than glass and no match for mine,' Mr Ho said.
The original stone that produced the Star of Stanley Ho weighed 570 carats, and it took one year to cut and polish it.
Diamond dealer Robert Mouawad, who supplied the stone, called it 'one of the wonders the planet has created'.
Although Mr Ho was ebullient in talking about his diamond, he seemed less willing to take questions regarding his casino business.
The opening of the Sands Macau casino in May 2004 ended a four-decade monopoly of the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, held by Mr Ho. Its market share fell to 70 per cent in 2005 and to 60 per cent last year.