Rapaport Magazine

Over Fifty

Four diamonds — each over 50 carats — were the stars of Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels auction.

By Amber Michelle

A 68.35-carat oval-shaped fancy intense yellow internally flawless diamond sold for $3,162,599.

Four diamonds over 50 carats each, a crowded salesroom and spirited bidding made for an exciting Magnificent Jewels auction at Christie’s New York, complete with all the drama of dueling bidders who fueled strong prices throughout the sale.

“Coming off of a $305 million record for the first six months of 2012, the fall season kicks off with four 50-carat diamonds in the same sale,” notes Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry, Christie’s Americas and Switzerland. “At auction, things come in when they do. Right now, everyone knows that diamond prices are high.”

Bidding at the mid-October sale was swift and confident for most lots and the sale garnered $49,993,175 against a presale estimate of $35 million to $45 million. With a good number of the lots exceeding their high estimates, the
369-lot sale was sold 93 percent by dollar value and 87 percent by lot, with 320 lots finding buyers. This compares to Christie’s New York April sale of Magnificent Jewels that tallied up an astonishing $70,726,650 against a presale estimate of $40 million. That 304-lot sale was sold 97 percent by dollar value and 95 percent by lot, with 290 of the lots finding buyers. Christie’s New York October 2011 335-lot sale totaled $46,599,650.

Pear-shaped diamond earrings — in which each of the two large stones weighed more than 50 carats — sold for $4,674,500.
The top lot of the day was a 50.52-carat,
pear-shaped, D flawless, type IIa diamond pendant, which sold to a private collector for $9,490,500* against an estimate of
$7.5 million to $10 million. The price comes out to $188,000 per carat. Bidding was decisive and rapid for the pendant as the audience in the room held its collective breath to see just how high the bidders would go before someone blinked and dropped out.

A pair of pear-shaped diamond earrings — one a yellow diamond weighing 52.78 carats, suspended from a round white diamond of 6.93 carats and the other, a white K-color stone of 50.31 carats, suspended from a round yellow weighing 7.02 carats — sold for $4,674,500 to Aleks Paul, Essex Global Trading. The fourth supersized diamond
was a 68.35-carat oval-shaped fancy intense yellow internally flawless stone. Five bidders duked it out until a tenacious U.S.–based dealer finally won out, paying $3,162,500, or $46,000 per carat.

Diamonds were selling briskly for strong prices in sizes above 10 carats. The market for smaller stones was spotty, with some finding buyers and others not. One dealer noted that the auction market is not that interested in the 1-, 2- and 3-carat white diamonds, preferring instead to focus on bigger and rarer stones of top quality.

Newly introduced to this sale was the “High Bid Paddle,” with bright red bidder numbers. Certain lots
were limited to only those bidders with the special paddles. When the lot was up for grabs, there was an announcement “high bid paddles only.” Explains Kadakia, “This is a system we have had in place at
our salesroom in Hong Kong for a few years now and we are slowly implementing it into all salesrooms where lots are getting more and more expensive. The general limit is $1 million and above and, in some cases, we will list lots that may be priced below $1 million but where we know the final result will be significantly more.”

Bidders came from around the globe for the sale, and whether in the room, on the phone or online,
bidding was international. The U.S. trade was very active in the sale, but bidding was highly competitive and it required nerves of steel and tremendous discipline to know when to move forward with a bid and when to stop because it just wasn’t profitable to pay more. Some privates in the room came prepared to buy, but as prices climbed quickly, they were shut out of the bidding before they even got to raise their paddles. One woman was so anxious to acquire a jewel that she put her paddle up in the air and held it there in an effort to keep up with the rapid bidding, only lowering the paddle when the other bids zoomed beyond her means.

“Prices are very strong for the best and rare diamonds, colored diamonds, pearls and stamped items. There were very strong prices,” commented Claude Sfeir, Sfeir Jewelry, Beirut, who mentioned that he was the under-bidder on the pear-shaped yellow and white diamond earrings. He did, however, pay $50,000 for the diamond and pearl flower blossom earrings by Indian designer Bhagat, the sale of which benefits the Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund.

“At almost $190,000 per carat for a 50-carat D flawless, $46,000 per carat for an intense yellow of 68 carats and $210,000 per carat for a fancy light pink — these are diamond prices that are as healthy as they have ever been,” sums up Kadakia. “It’s a great sign of confidence in the market as we go into the fall season.”
*All prices include buyer’s premium.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - November 2012. To subscribe click here.

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