Monday, July 29, 2013

Cannes diamond heist take raised to $136M

PARIS -- Wearing a scarf to mask his face, the gunman held up at least three security guards and then fled the luxury Cannes hotel roughly a minute later with $136 million in diamond jewelry, more than twice the initial estimated worth of the loot.

The simple, speedy theft is the biggest jewelry heist in years. Police had previously said Sunday's theft at the Carlton Intercontinental Hotel had netted $53 million worth of treasure -- even at that level a major haul.
The suspect somehow got in through the hotel's locked French doors, which open onto Cannes' famed Croisette promenade, then held up the participants of the show with a handgun and fled on foot. The hold-up itself took about a minute, all with three private security guards, two vendors and a manager of the sale-exhibit on hand, he said.
"He took a bag containing a briefcase and a small box, and then fled by another French door on the inside," Vique said. "He left on foot ... it was very fast." The bag contained rings, earrings and pendants, Vique said. As the suspect began his getaway, a few jewels spilled out of the bag of loot and were quickly recovered. "I wouldn't say it was easily done -- opening a locked door..." Vique said. "He found a way to open it. Why was he able to open this door?" The jewelry was part of a display centring on the prestigious Leviev diamond house, which is owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev. It was to run until the end of August.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The SS Gairsoppa silver hoard - Update

Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered 61 tons of bullion this month, 1,574 precious bars, from the SS Gairsoppa, a 412ft (126m) British cargo ship that went down in February 1941 about 300 miles off Ireland in international waters.

Odyssey Marine, pioneers in the field of deep water treasure hunting, exploration and salvage, have taken about 99% of the insured silver from the ship. Greg Stemm, Odyssey's chief executive, said the recovery has been an extremely complex operation, adding: "To add to the complications, the remaining insured silver was stored in a small compartment that was very difficult to access."

In total, Odyssey has taken 2,792 silver bars from the ship, including the latest haul of ingots weighing about 1,100 ounces each or almost 1.8 million troy ounces. Last year's payload of 1,218 bars was valued at £25m as silver prices were higher then. In the latest haul, 462 bars were of very high purity silver, .999 silver, and stamped with the brand HM Mint Bombay.

The precious metal - a world record recovery because of the depth and size - was taken ashore in Bristol and sent to a secure location in the UK. It will be analysed and refined before being sold.
In July 2012 news surfaced of the SS Gairsoppa.

The 412-foot British ship was shipping a cargo of silver when she was sunk by a single German torpedo on February 17, 1941 about 300 miles south-west of Galway, Ireland. The ship had a crew of 85 but only one man survived.

The Gairsoppa rests about 3 miles below the surface, and the operation to retrieve her cargo is said to be the deepest and largest precious metal recovery ever.

The salvage of 48 tons or 1.4 million ounces of silver in 1,203 bars is about 20% of what the Gairsoppa had in her hold. Bad weather halted the recovery effort.

The rest remains 15,420 feet deep in the North Atlantic. Another expedition is planned for mid-2013.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Lost Crown Jewels of King John

In 1216 King John travelled to Bishops Lynn in Norfolk where he arrived on the 9th October. The area is aptly named The Wash as it was once huge expanses of marshes and dangerous mud flats.

At Bishop's Lynn King John fell ill with dysentery and decided to return to Newark Castle via Wisbech. He took the slower and safer route around The Wash. However, his soldiers and carts full of his personal possessions, including the crown jewels he had inherited from his grandmother the Empress of Germany, took the shorter route through the marshes.
Trapped by the tide they were drowned - possibly close to Sutton Bridge. The treasure carts were lost and never recovered. King John died a few days later on the 18th October 1216.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Expensive Gemstones redux

Red Beryl Emerald is found in the Thomas Range and the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah. It occurs on rhyolite where it crystallizes under low pressure and high temperature along fractures or cavities of volcanic rhyolitic magma. Very few cut specimens exist.
Musgravite is a silicate mineral whose 3 main ingredients are beryllium (Be), magnesium (Mg) and aluminum (Al).

It was first found in the Musgrave area in Australia in 1993. Musgravite has been found in Greenland and Madagascar, but neither produces gem quality material. Two pieces of faceted gem-quality musgravite came from Sri Lanka in the mid 90s.
Grandidierite is a bluish green mineral found primarily in Madagascar. The first faceted specimen came from Sri Lanka.

The crystal is trichroic, transmitting blue, green and white light.
Painite was first discovered in the early 1950s in Myanmar.(Burma) Before 2005 less than 25 crystals were known, more have been unearthed since.
Garnets are found in many colors including colorless. The rarest of them all is the blue garnet, first seen in the late 1990s in Bekily, Madagascar. It changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light due to it's high vanadium content. A 4.2 carat blue garnet gem sold at auction in 2003 for $6.8 Million.
Serendibite is a cyan colored stone that comes from Sri Lanka and Burma exclusively. It is composed of a complex formula of calcium, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, boron and oxygen. There were only three faceted (cut) specimens in existance ... of 0.35 carats, 0.55 carats and 0.56 carats.
Very few red diamonds have ever been found. One in every hundred million diamonds is a natural red colour. The Moussaieff Red is the largest Fancy Red diamond in the world at 5.11 carats. Discovered by a Brazilian farmer in the 1990s, the rough stone weighed 13.9 carats. The triangular brilliant cut stone was sold in 2001 for around $8 million. It is valued today at over $10 million.

The Rob Red Diamond is 0.59 carats and it still holds a special place in the diamond world. Rob Red is rated as the most intense red diamond ever discovered.
Jadeite is found in the Motagua Valley, Guatemala, and was used by the Olmec and Maya. Typically, the most highly valued colors of jadeite are the most intensely green, translucent varieties. The record price for a single piece of jadeite jewelry was set at the November 1997 Christie’s Hong Kong auction. The “Doubly Fortunate” necklace of 27 .5 mm jadeite beads sold for US$9.3 million.

Counsel Corporation - CXS.t

Counsel Corporation - CXS.t is a financial services company operating in residential mortgage lending through its wholly owned subsidiary Street Capital Financial Corporation, one of the largest non-bank mortgage lenders in Canada.

On May 27, 2013 the company reported News

"Counsel Corporation (“Counsel” or the “Company”) (TSX: CXS), a financial services company, today announced that its residential mortgage lending business, Street Capital Financial Corporation (“Street Capital”), has received approvals from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to be an approved issuer of National Housing Act mortgage backed securities (“NHA MBS”) and an approved seller under the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) program.

“This is an important milestone for Street Capital,” said Allan Silber, Chairman and CEO of Counsel. “These approvals will enable the business to access an additional source of liquidity for the mortgages it originates and renews, and to be an approved seller into the CMB program.”

Street Capital, sources single-family residential mortgages solely through a network of independent, high quality mortgage brokers across Canada with whom it has built relationships. The company offers a broad lineup of high ratio and conventional mortgages, predominantly to prime borrowers.