The Geneva jewelry auctions held Tuesday and Wednesday cast a shadow over what was up until this point a year marked by exceptionally strong demand and record- or near-record breaking prices for rare, high-quality fancy-colored diamonds.
On November 8, The Fortune Pink, the world’s largest pear-shaped Fancy Vivid pink diamond ever to be offered at auction, sold for approximately $28.5 million at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction. It was at the low end of its $25 million – $35 million estimate. The final price includes the buyer’s premium, the fee paid to the auction house. At the hammer price, the actual price realized at auction, it fell below its low estimate.
While still a hefty amount the rare Type IIa diamond with its solid VVS2 clarity grading, fell short of lofty expectations in what was looking like banner year for pink and blue diamonds.
This was followed the next day by a 5.53-carat cushion brilliant-cut Fancy Vivid blue diamond, which was the top lot at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent and Noble Jewels sale. It failed to sell after bidding stalled at $10.4 million Swiss francs ($10.7 million). Its estimate was $11 million – $15 million.
It is the first of eight blue diamonds offered through a partnership by diamond mining giant, De Beers, which sourced and assembled the rough diamonds, and Diacore, which crafted and polished the roughs into finished gems. The diamonds are being sold across Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auctions in New York, Geneva and Hong Kong through the Spring of 2023. The 5.53-carat blue diamond was the first to be offered.
The Geneva auctions followed two sales in August where a pink and blue achieved exceptional prices.
The Williamson Pink diamond, an 11.15-carat internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond, fetched a remarkable $57.7 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October, shattering its $21 million high estimate while setting a per-carat world-record price for a Fancy pink diamond. It was the second highest price achieved for any jewel or gemstone sold at auction. The sale itself latest for 20 minutes (an eternity in the auction world) with multiple bidders vying for the gem. This gem not only had size but exceptional provenance. Still the price and number of bidders for such a diamond was unexpected. This left many predicting that The Fortune Pink would fare better.
Meanwhile, the De Beers Blue diamond, the largest vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction, fetched more than $57.4 million and approximately $3.8 million per carat, making it one of the highest prices ever achieved for a diamond at auction. Both prices for the 15.10-carat internally flawless step-cut gem fell just shy of world records for Fancy Vivid Blue diamonds. The total price was well above the gem’s estimate of more than $48 million.
The De Beers Blue shared a lot of the same characteristics with the 5.53-carat Fancy Vivid blue that failed to attract bidders.
The 5.53-carat blue diamond shared a similar history with the De Beers Blue. The roughs for these diamonds were unearthed within the last two years at the Cullinan mine, one of the very few mines in the world known to contain exceptional blue diamonds. While the De Beers Blue had exceptional clarity of the two, its performance at auction exceeded expectations while the 5.53-carat blue diamond underachieved.
The unusual decision of Sotheby’s, De Beers and Diacore to sell the eight gems over several auctions within a year’s time also presents questions to how the remaining gems will perform. One diamond dealer described it as “uncharted” territory.
Next up is the Golden Canary, a 303.10-carat a fancy deep brownish-yellow diamond. It 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 New York Magnificent Jewels sale in on December 7. Its estimate is $15 million, and it is being offered without reserve, with bidding starting at just $1.
However, expect one more high-quality fancy-colored diamond to be offered at auction before the year’s end.