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Rosy outlook


Pink diamonds ruled the Christie’s Hong Kong sale, which presented positive prospects for Asia’s luxury sector.

By David Brough
Strong results for the top two lots in the Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels sale underscored a robust appetite for beautiful, rare pink diamonds. The May 23 auction also reflected the Asian market’s continuing recovery from the pandemic. Totaling HKD 593.8 million (approximately $76.9 million), it saw a sell-through rate of 82% by lot and 87% by value.

The top lot, the 15.81-carat, type IIa Sakura diamond, set a new record when it became the largest purple-pink, flawless diamond ever to sell at auction. It went to an Asian private buyer for HKD 226.3 million ($29.3 million), or $1.9 million per carat — toward the lower end of its presale estimate.

Another highly anticipated highlight of the sale was a ring featuring a much smaller pink diamond: the Sweet Heart, a heart brilliant-cut, fancy-vivid-pink, VVS1-clarity stone of 4.19 carats. The piece fetched approximately $1.6 million per carat — almost as much as the Sakura — for a total of nearly HKD 50.7 million ($6.6 million), well within estimates. It, too, went to an Asian private buyer.

Close per carat

“The price difference between the two top lots doesn’t seem to be much in price per carat, considering the difference in size between the two diamonds,” commented Bruno Scarselli, managing partner of New York-based jeweler Scarselli Diamonds. “I am also asking myself if this is a new trend [in which] clients may prefer a smaller diamond as a wearable gem versus a much larger diamond that may not be as wearable.”

Of course, each diamond is different, and its realized price ultimately depends on its particular features, says Yves Frey of Yves Frey Diamonds.

“It gets harder to compare one colored diamond against another because they all have their individuality,” said Frey, who serves as the UK ambassador for the Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA) and has conducted regular business with the Asian market. “At the same time, more buyers — whether traders or private individuals — are becoming interested in colored diamonds and are on the lookout for special or [rare] diamonds.”

He, too, noted that “the Sweet Heart vivid-pink fetched per carat a price close to the spectacular vivid-purple-pink Sakura diamond, which is more than three times bigger.”

Healthy demand

The solid performance of the top lots, as well as of colorless diamonds, highlighted the improving health of the Asian luxury market.

“The Asian market is ready for a huge comeback given the long stays at home, tight border controls, and most of all, the stock market profit gains in recent times, which have further driven the desire to spend money,” observed Scarselli.

Vickie Sek, chairman of the jewelry department at Christie’s Asia-Pacific, echoed this positive assessment. “Our sale results demonstrate that the market in Asia is recovering finally and [that] collectors’ appetite for exceptionally rare pieces remains strong.”

In particular, she added, “the demand for exceptionally rare and exquisite colored diamonds is ever growing. Out of the top 10 pieces sold at this auction, four of them were colored diamonds.”

Whites and greens

Some rare and beautiful colorless-diamond jewelry also achieved high prices in the Hong Kong auction.

“The appetite for colorless diamonds is resilient: Three out of the top 10 lots fell into this category,” Sek reported. She singled out a pendant necklace with a briolette-cut, D-flawless, type IIa diamond of 50.05 carats, which had no reserve price and brought in about HKD 20.7 million ($2.7 million), within estimates.

Green jewelry — notably emeralds and jadeite — did especially well. An exquisite jadeite bangle fetched nearly HKD 4.8 million (about $300,440), at the top end of its estimate, and a Cartier necklace with Colombian emeralds and diamonds achieved HKD 16.1 million ($2.1 million), cresting its high estimate of HKD 15 million (about $948,770).

“Emeralds are very popular among Asian collectors,” Sek said.

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