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OFF BEAT: London jeweler claims ownership of 16-carat diamond at Hong Kong pawn shop


A London-based jeweler and a Hong Kong-based pawn shop are going toe to toe over a 16-carat yellow diamond.

The diamond in question, which is allegedly the same diamond stolen from a Graff Diamonds Ltd. branch in London in a 2007 armed robbery, surfaced in Yau On Pawn Shop in Hong Kong in 2011.

Graff last week filed a lawsuit in a New York state supreme court demanding that Yau On return the diamond it purchased, as “Graff is the true owner of the diamond,” according to the lawsuit.

The diamond was among $20 million of stolen jewelry from the Graff location where thieves, sharply dressed and driving a $250,000 Bentley, entered the store and brandished their weapons after chatting up the sales staff and pretending to shop, according to news reports.

Graff reported the diamond stolen to the New York-based Gemological Institute of America, which graded and analyzed the diamond.

Subsequent to the robbery, a stone was submitted by Yau On to the GIA for certification, and upon analysis the GIA determined the jewel was the stolen diamond cut into a different shape, according to court documents.

The GIA, which also was named in the suit, informed Graff of the diamond submitted by Yau On and has secured the jewel on its property in New York, according to court documents.

Yau On, which refused to allow the GIA to return the diamond to Graff, said it paid $386,000 for the stone and was not aware it was stolen, according to the Associated Press.

Graff seeks the immediate possession of the stone, court costs and further relief as seen proper by the court.