Liban sat in a formidably old leather chair behind his desk, the glow of the panel light on his desktop making his eyes and glasses shine. He wore a pair of white cloth gloves, as was his standard when handling precious gemstones in rough or final forms. A weighing scale held a clump of the black material on one plate, while the other held the metal weights that helped gauge the weight of the item on its opposing plate.
While the old man was considering the materials brought to him, Barney looked around the office. It was similar to the offices of rich old English gentlemen, with dark tones to every aspect. The chair he sat in was similar to Liban’s, a vintage wing chair with the tell-tale buttons pushed into its back. The desk the old man sat behind was a very solid item made of a dark wood, slightly modified by the panel light many diamond dealers used to test the clarity of the diamonds.
He looked across the table to Barney. “And you said how much of this was there in this underground cavern?” His English was spoken with the practiced precision of a second language, and a slight French accent that was expected of a citizen of Geneva.
The question made Barney smile. “That proves you’re family. It was the first question Claudio asked.”
The old man smiled. “What you have shown me here is possibly one of the most expensive pieces of gemstone on Earth. The known diamond families have fortunes in the billions of US dollars, and they don’t have this.”
“It is as I told Claudio. There was a cavern that seemed to continue into the bowels of Venus, and the balconies running its sides were filled with mounds of this material.”
A light fog showed on Liban’s glasses. “If that’s the case, this could push personal fortunes into the trillions, possibly quadrillions of dollars.”
Barney scoffed. “Quadrillions? Don’t be daft.”
Liban’s smile showed bleached, even teeth. “Fine diamonds on Earth fetch a pretty price for their quality. Some of our family’s early black diamonds were found in the, at that time, deepest darkest parts of Africa. That alone increased the price, because of the exotic location and the perceived dangers of the locals.”
“Everyone knows the Central Africans are not the savages of the colonial era. No more so than my Aboriginal race in Australia.”
The Swissman let out a laugh. “Of course not, dear Barnaby. We knew the African locals were not savages even back then, but in any industry perception is everything. Price of oil goes up because of supply disruptions and dangerous environments. So do diamonds, with the perception of procurement difficulties and the regularity of supply. One need only look to your name. Barnaby is a respected name, not one associated to savages.”
Barney smiled. “My mother wanted a girl. She planned to name me Barnumbirr, after our people’s creator goddess. The goddess was represented by Venus. Mum had me, so she gave me the closest thing to a male equivalent. That Barnaby means ‘son of consolation’ always had a ring of truth.”
Liban shrugged his shoulders. “Little in life goes according to plan. All you can do is hope for an opportunity where you can make an obscene amount of profit.” He pointed to the black material. “Like this Carbonado. Claudio’s mineral diagnosis device was correct. To add to the promise, there is a unique aspect to this ‘Venusian Black Diamond’.”
“It is different to Earth’s black diamonds?”
“It is indeed. The depth of the black in this sample is deeper than any Earth sample I’ve ever seen. The glowing effect of a black diamond is caused by gaps in the linking of the atoms, letting light pass through. It is usually called luminescence in the industry. However, this sample does not have that. The gaps I expect to see do not exist in this Venusian diamond.”
Barney nodded at the old man’s words. “I admit to not knowing much about the greater workings of diamond grading or the industry, as Claudio sometimes mentions it. But could that difference to an Earth black diamond be considered a clarity issue?”
Liban nodded, a small measure of respect in his eyes. “You have a point. We grade the raw diamond on their carats, their colour and their clarity. We also consider the cut, but that is a latter consideration once the diamond cutters have done their job. As you say, the difference could be considered a clarity problem, but that is a greater issue with a white or other coloured diamond. Finding the clarity of a black diamond reflects back on the abilities of the cutter, as they need a greater degree of skill to cut it in such a way that takes the greatest advantage of its luminescence.”
Barney’s head swam with the information. The Swissman saw the look in his eyes, and gave a small smile to acknowledge his descent into jargon. “So, Mister Puyngu. Has my dear cousin sent you to me only, or is he indulging his habit for second opinions?”
“He is sending me to see one other person, yes. After that, I fully intend to make use of my Earth time before heading back to Venus.”
“As I am sure you must. The work conditions on the surface must be close to horrific. The people who invented the suits that let you be productive, let alone survive the surface, are modern day geniuses.”
The comment drew Barney’s thoughts back to Léana. He made a mental note to check on her condition with the company before he headed to the Central African Republic.
Liban drew his attention back. “How rude of me. Keeping you here all afternoon while you are most likely wanting a good meal. Let me take you to a fine restaurant I know. It takes ten minutes to walk there, but it will be worth it.”
Barney smiled gratefully as he nodded his acceptance. As Liban packed away his cousin’s present from Venus, his guest resealed his container. A fine dinner in Geneva was something even Barney could not turn down.
– X –