Rapaport Magazine

A Bow To Color

Christie’s set a new world auction record for the most expensive red diamond ever to be sold at auction at its autumn Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale.

By Mary Kavanagh

Fancy red diamond and diamond ring sold for $5,095,872 at Christie’s Hong Kong.
A heart-shaped fancy red diamond and diamond ring by Moussaieff, dubbed Gem on Fire, sold to a private Asian buyer for $5,095,872*, setting a new world record auction price for a red diamond and a new world record per-carat auction price of $2,440,000 per carat for a red diamond. Vickie Sek, deputy chairman of Christie’s Asia and director of Christie’s jewelry and jadeite department, described it as “the most expensive red diamond ever sold at auction,” noting that it is also one of the finest diamonds ever offered for sale. In addition, it is the largest red diamond ever to appear at auction.
   Red diamonds are considered to be the rarest of all diamonds and, according to Christie’s, “less than a handful” have ever appeared at auction and none larger than 2 carats. So, unsurprisingly, the appearance of this exceptional 2.09-carat stone sparked a frantic bidding frenzy. Bidding started at 18 million Hong Kong dollars — approximately $2.3 million — attracting both in-room and telephone bidders. London luxury jeweler Moussaieff designed the ring as a flower head with the red diamond in the center surrounded by six petals set with pear-shaped diamonds, each weighing approximately 1.07 to 1.01 carats.
   The November sale achieved $95,050,066 in total. The 303-lot sale was sold 84 percent by lot and 80 percent by value. This compares to Christie’s spring Hong Kong sale in May 2014, which brought in a total of $91,951,200 and the autumn Hong Kong sale in November 2013, which brought in a total of $111,337,708 — the highest total ever for any jewelry auction in Asia. “The auction results were in line with our expectations, with some very pleasant surprises and others that performed beyond our wildest dreams,” Sek said.

Rare Ruby Steals the Show
   One of those items that surpassed Christie’s “wildest dreams” was the top lot and undisputed star of the show — an extremely rare Burmese pigeon blood red ruby and diamond brooch by Cartier that sold to a private Asian buyer for $8,434,368, or $835,000 per carat, more than three times the low presale estimate of $2.5 million. The buyer named the piece Zoe Red after his daughter. According to Sek, this is the second-highest price ever to be paid for a ruby at auction. Bidding started at 20 million Hong Kong dollars — almost $2.6 million — and competition was fierce from the get-go, with both in-room and telephone bidders vying for ownership.
   Large rubies of Burmese origin in this distinctive pigeon red color are extremely rare and stones over 5 carats rarely appear at auction. Weighing 10.10 carats, this cushion-shaped ruby was beautifully set in an openwork octagonal brooch with square and rectangular-shaped diamonds, accented by triangular-shaped diamonds, mounted in platinum. Its sale was the most exciting bidding process of the evening and the delighted in-room participants applauded when the hammer finally fell.
Another item Sek referred to as “performing beyond our wildest dreams” was the second-top lot — a fabulous pair of jadeite cabochon and diamond earrings that scored $6,692,544, almost twice the low presale estimate. Calling it a “momentous” price, Sek said, “Jadeite will always be a crowd favorite, especially in Asia.” She added that its popularity was validated yet again at this sale by the remarkable prices achieved.

Color Continues to Delight
   Fancy color diamonds and colored gemstones featured strongly in the top ten lots, a trend also seen at Sotheby’s October Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale. “Colored gemstones and colored diamonds have always been popular, but particularly so at this auction,” Sek said. “The exceptional prices achieved are testament to the extraordinary quality of the gems offered.”
   Another highlight of the sale was the third-top lot of the evening — a 3.39-carat internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ring, also by Moussaieff, which sold to a private Asian buyer for $5,821,632, way above the low presale estimate of $4.5 million. The oval-shaped blue diamond has been awarded the highest color grade of Vivid by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Set within a marquise and brilliant-cut pink diamond surround, with a brilliant-cut pink diamond three-quarter hoop and mounted in 18-karat rose gold, it is truly a collector’s item.
   A heart-shaped D-color VS1 diamond weighing almost 28 carats was the fifth-top lot and was purchased by a member of the European trade for $3,354,048, also significantly above the low presale estimate of $2.5 million. A 52.26-carat fancy intense yellow diamond pendant necklace was bought by another member of the European trade for $2,260,224. A fabulous 11.64-carat cushion-shaped Kashmir sapphire ring also made the top ten. It was sold to a private Asian buyer for $2,011,392.

Good Energy
   There was an excellent turnout in the salesroom at the Hong Kong Convention Center, which was packed to capacity for a large part of the auction, although many people left before the top lots came up for sale. Sek described the mood as “energetic” and said bidding for the top lots was “intense.” Many lots were not only highly contested, but their sale prices far exceeded their estimates. Approximately 70 percent of the roughly 300 buyers in the room were Asian, with the other 30 percent international buyers. The majority were private collectors, with the minority representing the trade.
   Buyers want quality jewels. And Christie’s strategy is to deliver them for its customers. “We offer only the best and rarest,” Sek said, noting how grateful the auction house is for the ongoing support of its clients, “many of whom are long-standing friends of Christie’s.”
* All prices include buyer’s premium.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2014. To subscribe click here.

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