After the first string of important jewelry auctions last month, the spring auction season seemed to be on rocky ground heading into the May sales. However, the failed sale of the Shirley Temple Blue diamond back in April did nothing to stop the record-making prices fetched by the Oppenheimer, the Unique Pink and more important diamonds headlining the May auctions.
The expression ‘when it rains, it pours’ is uncannily apt in the case of blue diamonds at auction recently. Almost every important jewelry sale this spring has featured a rare blue diamond, or two: Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold the De Beers Millenium Jewel 4, a 10.10-carat internally flawless Fancy Vivid blue diamond, for $31.8 million on April 5; the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond at Sotheby’s New York that failed to reach its $25 million low estimate; the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue diamond at Christie’s Geneva, sold for a record $57.5 million; and, at Sotheby’s Geneva, a 7.32-carat internally flawless Fancy Vivid blue diamond fetched $17.1 million while a Fancy Intense blue diamond brooch, by Alexander Reza, brought in $13.6 million.
Even after all these unprecedented sales of fancy blue diamonds, there is still one more left for the unlucky underbidders. Christie’s New York recently announced it will be selling The Cullinan Dream,the largest Fancy Intense Blue diamond at auction, weighing 24.18 carats, in its Magnificent Jewels sale in June.
On May 18th, Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale proved immensely successful. With 83 percent sold by lot, the 488-lot auction realized $175.1 million in total – setting a new world record for any jewelry sale. That enormous figure was largely owed to the $31.5 million price fetched by the Unique Pink diamond, a pear-shaped Fancy Vivid pink of 15.38 carats, VVS2 clarity, Type IIa. The sale was packed with several important colored diamonds, including the fancy blues mentioned earlier. Three lots sold for over $10 million while six lots realized prices over $5 million.
The following day, Christie’s Geneva answered back with gusto in the form of the Oppenheimer Blue diamond. After fierce bidding consumed the room for a nail-biting 25 minutes, the gavel finally fell for the jaw-dropping sale price of $57.5 million. The monstrous sum instantly set a new world record for any jewel sold at auction, besting the Blue Moon that sold at Sotheby’s in November last year for $48.5 million. The auction as a whole produced strong results with 86 percent sold by lot and 93 percent sold by value.
The staggering success of the May sales is somewhat of surprise given the uncertainty of the market as well as recent news of sales drops at Tiffany’s and De Beers – reports that echo the current state of the jewelry industry. With just a few more sales left, here’s hoping the spring season caps off with a strong finish.