See also : Jewels African diamonds Cartier Spain III Ancient Spain
Chronology : 17th century 1660-1679 1972 1990-1999 2010 to now
1664 A Diamond for the Infanta
2008 SOLD 16.4 M£ including premium
This Indian greyish-blue diamond weighing 35.56 carat of VS2 clarity is chosen in 1664 by King Philip IV of Spain to enter the dowry of his daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa. The princess is well known for being in 1656 the main character of the Meninas of Velazquez. So this diamond is a contemporary of the royal glory of the Koh-I-Noor, the Regent and the Orlov. Entered in the Bavarian royal family by a marriage in 1722, it was then known as Blaue Wittelsbacher.
It is found twice at Christie's: in 1931 at the sale of the crown jewellery of Bavaria, and now in preparation for the sale of December 10 in London.
Christie's does not give a price in its release, but the Telegraph of Nov. 2 indicates that experts believe it could fetch £ 10 million.
POST SALE COMMENTS
An outstanding result for the most exciting lot of the year.
The Wittelsbach diamond was sold £ 16.4 million including buyer's premium.
Christie's announced that it is the highest recorded auction price for a jewel.
My opinion is that this changes nothing in my previous remarks on the new challenge, at the end of the year, for selling color diamonds. Those that are both unique and prestigious continue to make excellent performance.
Unlike my usual practice, I put a link to the catalog page of this historic lot.
Question raised by a WORLDAUCTION member :
I wonder how the value was assigned based on weight, size, clarity, color, etc. I am also interested if a breakdown is possible with the art and skill that went into finishing. It would seem this diamond with it's history would be valued even higher. A terrific gift to a special person.
Do you think timing in the offer so near the holidays may have driven up the price for the diamond? Or was this essentially assured without much competition?
Proposed answer :
I have no doubt that the royal history made the price. The fact that only one other diamond of same colour and size is known in the world helped much.
I do not think that the cut and clarity had a role in this result.
It is a historic piece, contemporary to the Koh-I-Noor. I am sure that the price was not affected by the auction date, excepted the fact that top jewelry auctions in London and New York come generally in December (after Geneva and Hong Kong sales).
Christie's had not published their estimate, but the market had told about 10 M£. For sure, reaching 16.4 M£ (including fees) was the result of much competition.
We have some additional information through the press today.
Christie's spokeswoman said the price nearly doubled its pre-sale estimate (Christie's had not published that estimate).
The previous top price for a diamond at auction was $16.5 million for a 100-carat diamond in 1995 in Switzerland. Converted into US currency, the price of the Wittelsbach diamond is 24.3 M$.
Christie's provided the buyer's name in a press release : Graff Diamonds.
Its image before being recut by Graff is shared by Wikimedia :
1972 The Bulgari Blue
2010 SOLD 15.7 M$ including premium
One of them, weighing 10.95 carats, is blue, in the prestigious certified Fancy Vivid Blue color. The other is colorless, weighing 9.87 carats. These two triangular diamonds were arranged symmetrically on both sides of the ring by Bulgari in Rome.
Christie's sells this jewel on October 20 in New York, and hopes it will exceed $ 12M.
This price is fair, since the best color diamonds start being recorded beyond the million dollars per carat.
Last May, I followed (without writing an article) a Toi et moi ring consisting of a blue diamond of 5.02 carats and a colorless diamond of 5.42 carats. This jewel was sold CHF 7M including premium by Sotheby's in Geneva.
POST SALE COMMENT
The market for high quality jewelry got the same vigour as before the crisis. Sold $ 15.7 million including premium, the Bulgari Blue even slightly exceeded the expectations expressed by Christie's.
#FunFact: Only one in 10,000 carats of diamonds displays a fancy color, making them among the most rare and costly of all gems. The “BVLGARI Blue” ring featuring a 10.95 ct Fancy Vivid blue #diamond and a 9.87 ct G-color diamond sold for $15.76 million in 2010. pic.twitter.com/SrYAaAFw7o— GIA (@GIAnews) December 1, 2017
A Blue Diamond for Oppenheimer
2016 SOLD for CHF 57M including premium
London is a hub for international operations and price controls. Sir Philip Oppenheimer retired in 1993 after 45 years as head of the Central Selling Organization of the cartel. This powerful position enabled him to keep exceptional gems.
On May 18 in Geneva, Christie's sells the Oppenheimer Blue that had belonged to Sir Philip. Weighing 14.62 carats, it is the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction. It is estimated CHF 38M, lot 242. It has been set on a ring by Verdura.
The clarity of the Oppenheimer Blue is excellent, graded VVS1 by the GIA. However, it does not reach the absolute purity of the Blue Moon, cushion cut to 12.03 carats, sold for CHF 49M including premium by Sotheby's on November 11, 2015, whose stunning clarity generates a phosphorescence effect under ultraviolet radiation.
The exceptional saturation characterizing the fancy vivid blue hue is enhanced on the Oppenheimer Blue by a highly efficient rectangular cut.
I invite you to admire this masterpiece of jewelry in the video shared by Christie's :
1999 A Fistful of Blue Diamonds
2016 SOLD for HK$ 250M including premium
One of these blue diamonds was oval cut. Weighing 10.10 carats, it is not the largest of the eleven but it is indeed the most spectacular. It was certified Fancy Vivid Blue Flawless in 1999 by GIA with the designation De Beers Millennium Jewel 4. Mounted on a ring in a surrounding of small white diamonds, it is estimated HK $ 235M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 5, lot 1843.
This unprecedented treasure insured altogether for £ 350M excited high appetites during the show at the Dome. On November 7, 2000, a commando of four equipped with a ten ton earth digger, sledgehammers, smoke bombs, gas masks and bulletproof vests come into the Dome, ready to celebrate the new millennium with the biggest heist ever.
The gang was under surveillance and 200 police officers had been mobilized. The head of the counter operation had decided to let the robbers go up to the showcase window for security reasons because arrests are easier in a closed room.
I invite you to watch the short video shared by Sotheby's to announce the sale of Jewel 4.
2014 In a Blue Moon
2015 SOLD for CHF 49M including premium
The new diamond is fancy vivid blue without inclusion, which is already a great rarity. It was purchased by Cora International, headquartered in New York, which processed it. This fancy vivid blue cut to 12.03 carats is the largest internally flawless blue diamond in cushion shape.
Once completed, it revealed even more exceptional qualities. Its ocean blue color is perfect without a secondary hue. It has no fluorescence. An exposure to ultraviolet radiation generates an intense orange-red phosphorescence that persists for about twenty seconds, a sensational feature which is known only to a few blue diamonds of absolute purity.
It is a masterpiece in both its size and features. It was named The Blue Moon in reference both to its shape and to the saying 'Once in a blue moon' that means a total rarity. It seems inconceivable to find better in its class, especially since the production of the Cullinan mine tends to decrease.
The Blue Moon is estimated between $ 35M (CHF 34,2M) and $ 55M (CHF 53,7M), for sale by Sotheby's in Geneva on November 11, lot 513. I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
2014 Another Wonder from Cullinan
2016 SOLD for $ 25.4M including premium
This mine now owned by Petra Diamonds still remains the most regular purveyor of type IIb color diamonds, 10 to 20 times rarer than the IIa.
An extraordinary fancy intense blue gem weighing 122.52 carats was discovered at Cullinan in June 2014. The jewelers mapped with accuracy its internal crystalline regularity by using the semiconductor characteristics that are specific to the type IIb diamonds.
This non-destructive analysis enabled to optimize the cut. Four diamonds were produced. The Cullinan Dream is the biggest of the four. It is rectangular with cut corners and weighs 24.18 carats. Its clarity is VS2. It is estimated $ 23M for sale by Christie's in New York on June 9, lot 261.
This diamond is exceptional. Its fancy intense hue is much rarer than the fancy vivid blue. The Oppenheimer Blue, identified as the largest fancy vivid blue ever offered at auction, only weighed 14.62 carats. It was sold for CHF 57M including premium by Christie's on May 18, 2016.
An estimate around $ 1M per carat looks consistent with results obtained on other blue diamonds. A fancy intense blue with an excellent VVS2 clarity weighing 7.64 carats was sold for CHF 9M including premium by Sotheby's on 11 May 2010.
The other highly rare variety of blue, the fancy deep blue, can reach a price per carat of the same level or even higher. The estimate by Sotheby's in April 2016 at $ 2.6 million per carat for the diamond of Shirley Temple was nevertheless much exaggerated.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's to announce the Cullinan Dream:
(2010)-2016 Blue Diamonds are Eternal
2016 SOLD for CHF 17M including premium
The GIA report numbered 2125017707, dated 8 June 2010, applied to a Type IIb diamond weighing 8.01 carat, guaranteeing its natural, Fancy Vivid Blue color and VVS1 clarity.
This gem is close to the best, in the most prestigious color and a clarity which is second only to Internally Flawless. Fancy vivid blue diamonds rarely exceed that weight. It was sold for HK$ 100M including premium by Sotheby's on 3 April 2012.
I commented it as follows at that time :
"The emerald cut is the most prestigious for colored diamonds. It guarantees the natural qualities of the diamond and does not alter the color.
"Sotheby's sells an emerald cut fancy vivid blue mounted on a platinum ring between two small white diamonds. The press release indicates that this is the largest fancy vivid blue in emerald cut to appear at auction for many years."
Now identified as the Sky Blue Diamond, it is more accurately described as square cut which better stresses its great shape achievement, and assembled on a more exuberant Cartier ring set with brilliant cut and baguette diamonds.
It is estimated CHF 14.76M worth US $ 15M for sale by Sotheby's in Geneva on November 16, lot 337. Please watch the video shared by WSJ.
Blue for Boys and Pink for Girls
2017 SOLD for CHF 42M including premium
It weighs 14.54 carats, compared with the 14.62 carat of the Oppenheimer Blue which was sold for CHF 57M including premium by Christie's on May 18, 2016.
The Blue Moon that became after its sale the Blue Moon of Josephine is also a Type IIb. Sold for CHF 49M including premium by Sotheby's on November 11, 2015, this diamond weighing 12.03 carats owes its culminating value at US $ 4M per carat to an absolute purity generating a sensational effect of phosphorescence after exposure to ultraviolet rays.
The diamond that comes in the next sale is pear shaped. Someone had the idea to choose a pink diamond of comparable cut and size. The two gems hanging each to a suite of two white diamonds thus constitutes temporarily the most sumptuous pair of earrings of all time. They are named Apollo and Artemis by reference to the beautiful twins of Greek mythology.
Nevertheless this pair will be divided. Artemis is estimated CHF 12.5M, lot 378. It is a Fancy intense pink Type IIa and VVS2 clarity weighing 16.00 carats. The market generally prefers a Fancy vivid pink. Of the same Type, clarity and form, a Fancy vivid pink weighing 15.38 carats was sold for CHF 31M including premium by Sotheby's on May 17, 2016.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's :
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Blue : CHF 42M
Pink : CHF 15.3M
Pear or Daffodil
2014 SOLD 21.5 MCHF including premium
This extreme dynamism of the market has several causes:
- An increased confidence of the sellers for the auction process ;
- The exceptional activity of the mines in Southern Africa in recent decades ;
- The quality of the cut, which limits the waste from the raw gem ;
- The growing interest of buyers for the rarest colors.
On this latter criterion, it is interesting to note that the highest price per carat, $ 2.4 million including premium, recognized the highly rare and beautiful color of The Orange, sold for CHF 32.6 million including premium at Christie's on November 12, 2013.
An amazing variety of extraordinary diamonds is scheduled for next week in Geneva. I introduce below the most prestigious lot from each sale.
On May 13, Sotheby's sells the cushion shaped Graff Vivid Yellow, weighing 100.09 carats. Its clarity is only VS2, but it is highlighted by a rare daffodil shade which creates an exceptional brilliance.
This diamond is estimated CHF 13.4 million, lot 507 in the catalog. It can be compared with the Lady Dalal, a pear shaped fancy vivid yellow VVS1 weighing 110.03 carats sold for CHF 11.3 million including premium by Sotheby's on 15 November 2011.
For The Blue, to be sold by Christie's on May 14, I am not trying to offer a comparison. Its fancy vivid blue color is not the rarest but its weight and clarity are exceptional : 13.22 carat flawless. This pear shaped diamond is estimated CHF 19M, lot 260 in the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENTS
The Graff Vivid Yellow was sold for CHF 14.5 million including premium by Sotheby's, a result deserved by its extraordinary color variant and by its processing by Graff.
At Christie's, the blue diamond was sold for CHF 21.5 million including premium. Its exceptional qualities pushed it beyond US$ 1.8 million per carat.
Fancy Deep Blue
2019 SOLD for CHF 11.6M including premium
On April 24, 2013, Bonhams sold for £ 6.2M including premium a Fancy deep blue weighing 5.30 carats whose clarity was only VS2. This result corresponded to $ 1.8M per carat, a record at that time for any blue diamond. It was bought at that auction by Graff Diamonds.
On November 12 in Geneva, Christie's sells as lot 246 a VVS2 Fancy deep blue weighing 7.03 carats. This rectangular cut diamond has been assembled by Moussaieff on a platinum ring between two white diamonds. It is estimated beyond CHF 10M corresponding to $ 1.4M per carat. The higher estimate is at $ 2M per carat. Please watch the video tweeted by the auction house.
It is interesting to compare this lot with the Shirley Temple diamond. When it passed at Sotheby's on April 19, 2016, this cushion modified brilliant cut Fancy deep blue weighed 9.54 carats with a VVS2 clarity. The GIA had supplied a diagram explaining that it was potentially Internally Flawless. It was acquired after the sale by a jeweler who made this transformation while reducing its weight to 9.3 carats. Its color has been improved by this polishing, including a rare blue phosphorescence.