Rapaport Magazine

Top Dollar for Top Jewels

Led by exceptional fancy color diamonds, the Geneva spring auctions registered record results of almost $324 million.

By Francesco Rosa
“In the lead-up to the sales, the mood in the general jewelry market was not good at all,” observed David Bennett, chairman Switzerland and worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry division, at the conclusion of both auctions. “And suddenly it turned out to be a great success.”
   An array of important fancy color diamonds and a well-priced selection of quality jewels fresh to the market, once again propelled the Geneva auctions to record sales. Twelve of the combined top 20 lots were colored diamonds, amounting to more than 50 percent of the grand total. Top-quality white diamonds sold at steady prices and six white diamond lots made it into the top lots sold. Two colored gemstone lots rounded out the top 20.
   “It is a new world record for any jewelry sale,” David Bennett told the press after Sotheby’s auction, which totaled $175,097,419. “It is exactly a year after we broke the world record last May here in Geneva, which was $160.9 million.”
   The sale was 83.2 percent sold by lot, with 406 of the 488 lots on offer finding a buyer. Officials confirmed they have stopped releasing percent-by-value data. By contrast, Sotheby’s November 2015 sale had realized $139,085,346.
   “The Unique Pink set a new world record for a fancy vivid pink diamond,” continued Bennett, referring to the top lot of the evening, a pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond ring of 15.38 carats, VVS2, type IIa, which sold on the phone to an Asian private for $31,561,200, or $2,052,094 per carat. The second top lot, an internally flawless, pear-shaped, fancy vivid blue 7.32-carat diamond ring sold to an anonymous telephone buyer for $17,112,629, or $2,337,791 per carat.
   Sotheby’s also registered a new record for a jewel by Reza, with the sale of an important fancy intense blue diamond brooch for $13,672, 493. Another auction record for a fancy pink diamond was set when an 18.51-carat modified pear brilliant-cut fancy pink diamond, VVS1, type IIa, sold after intense bidding for $9,773,672, or $528,021 per carat.
   “It felt during the week that there were more people than we have ever had at the exhibition. We had to extend viewing hours and had people queuing for more than two hours,” concluded Bennett. “The vast majority of the jewels were privately sourced; we tried to get as many fresh goods to the market as possible while keeping prices reasonable. It was a spectrum of jewelry, from a great private collection of period Cartier jewels all the way through colored diamonds, great emeralds and colored stones. Somehow there was something for everyone. Luckily it paid off.”

   Christie’s sale following Sotheby’s record auction did not disappoint. Totaling $148,639,176 and registering a very high sold-by-value figure of 93 percent, the sale will inevitably be remembered for the heart-stopping bidding duel for The Oppenheimer Blue — a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue rectangular-cut diamond ring. It set a new world auction record for any jewel, selling to an anonymous private collector for a whopping $57,541,779, or $3,935,826 per carat.
   “The bidding lasted 25 minutes, but it felt like five minutes! The entire room was holding their breath,” stated Rahul Kadakia, international head of jewelry, Christie’s. “Bidding on the phone, the final two bidders did not know each other and yet they were playing a game with one another, trying to see how one could psych the other one out: ‘Let’s throw a million now, let’s throw two hundred thousand now, let’s try to unnerve the other bidder.’ At this level of bidding, you are dealing with very, very intelligent people. That in itself was entertaining; it was incredibly exciting. The room wanted the stone to do well and for those 25 minutes, this was everybody’s diamond and that was great. It has been a long time since I saw people clapping every time a bid came in. It was like a tennis match!”
   Christie’s offered 285 lots, of which 244 were sold, representing a sold-by-lot value of 86 percent. By comparison, their November 2015 sale totaled $109.5 million and their May 2015 sale garnered $97.5 million.
   The top four lots were colored diamond jewels, including The Oriental Sunrise, a stunning pair of 12.20-carat and 11.96-carat fancy vivid orange-yellow oval-cut diamond and diamond earrings, which sold for $11,505,926, or $476,238 per carat.
   Four white diamond lots also made the top ten list of highest-selling jewels, including The Pohl Diamond, an historic 36.09-carat, rectangular-cut, D, VVS1 diamond ring by Cartier, which sold for $4,362,432, or $120,876 per carat. It came with a working diagram stating that the gem is potentially internally flawless.
   “I was very encouraged by the price of white diamonds,” concluded Kadakia, “Prices were steady and D flawless stones were selling between $120,000 to $136,000 per carat.”
*All prices include buyer’s premium.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - June 2016. To subscribe click here.

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