303-Carat ‘Golden Canary’ Diamond Could Fetch $15 Million At Sotheby’s

The Golden Canary, a fancy deep brownish-yellow diamond weighing a colossal 303.10 carats, is one of the largest polished diamonds in the world and the largest flawless or internally flawless diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America. It will be the top lot of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on December 7. Its estimate is $15 million, and it is being offered without reserve, with bidding starting at just $1.

It is also the latest in a surge of rare, high-quality fancy-colored diamonds that have been placed on auction this year. A bit reminiscent of a period roughly from 2015 till 2018 when exceptional fancy-colored diamonds were regularly setting world record prices.

The Golden Canary was formerly known as the “Incomparable Diamond,” a 407.48-carat natural fancy deep-yellow shield step-cut diamond once owned (at least for a while) by luxury brand, Mouawad. It was re-cut into its current form, a classic pear-shape, prior to this sale. Sotheby’s describes the newly cut gem as having a “more elegant” profile with a “deeper yellow color” that is “brighter in hue.” It is being promoted as internally flawless.

“The re-cut of the Incomparable to the current 303.10 carat pear modified brilliant is to look at the diamond as new; a recreation bringing to bear the advances in technology, computer modeling and visual evaluation available today,” the Gemological Institute of America said in its grading report. “Everything from the orientation of the stone to its shape and cutting style, has been considered.”

A couple of diamond experts are largely in agreement with this assessment.

“It takes guts to cut this diamond. Whoever the owners are felt that there’s going to be market for it,” said Benjamin Goldberg of William Goldberg, a New York firm that specializes in statement diamonds and diamond jewels. “The new cut improved the gem by 100 percent.”

“I think they brightened the stone,” added David Doppelt of Jonathan Doppelt, a New York diamond jewelry house that specializes in yellow diamonds. “Those brownish stones could be opaque looking. I think renaming it the Golden Canary was done because they want to highlight the fact that it is a yellow diamond. In the past it was too much like a brown diamond.” (Yellow diamonds are also known as canary diamonds.)

This diamond has a certain amount of provenance attached to it. The original rough that the diamond was crafted from was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early 1980s. Its original size was 890 carats. It was first presented to the public in 1984 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Over time, the rough was cut into 15 finished stones, from which the largest of the resulting diamonds was the Fancy Deep Brownish-Yellow weighing 407.49 carats that became known as the “Incomparable.” The shield-shaped step cut, with its unusually shaped facets and small table, preserved much of the shape and bulk of the original rough, Sotheby’s says.

The Incomparable appeared in numerous museum exhibitions, including the American Museum of Natural History in New York in 1997, Diamants at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris in 2001, and as part of The Nature of Diamonds, an exhibition that toured The Royal Ontario Museum and the Houston Museum of Science in 2008.

The Golden Canary is the latest of a number of exceptional fancy-colored diamonds that have come up for auction this year. Among the high points so far this year are:

The prices for both diamonds shattered their high estimates.

Among the upcoming sales are:

Doppelt and Goldberg were both surprised by the prices the Williamson Pink and the De Beers Blue achieved but expect that these upcoming sales will continue this trend.

“Five million a carat for an 11-carat pink is crazy and yet not crazy,” Goldberg says. “Pinks are still outperforming blues. Yellows are experiencing a lift in prices. They were down for a but good ones are hard to find.”

Doppelt says the Golden Canary sale has the possibility to be a milestone event.

“A brownish yellow diamond has never been so coveted by collectors. There’s a lot of buzz attached to this stone, and it should create buzz for smaller yellow and brownish yellows as well,” he says.

“I’m super excited to get a chance to hold a gem with such history attached to it and defiantly interested in participating in the sale.”

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