Rapaport Magazine


Rare diamonds and fantastic jewels at the Geneva auctions set new records.

By Francesco Rosa
To many industry insiders, the numbers are still gradually sinking in: $35 million... $83 million... $125 million... $200 million... $2.4 million per carat....
   Despite a moody global economy, or perhaps because of it, the Magnificent Jewels auctions in Geneva this November exceeded all expectations and set some historic new records. The sale powerfully propelled the diamond trade, and the jewelry and auction industry as a whole, to completely new levels.
   In only two days, Sotheby’s and Christie’s combined sold a total of almost $325 million worth of gemstones and jewelry, with up to 40 lots selling above $1 million. “This is a fantastic thing for our business,” exclaimed dealer Kevin Assil of Assil New York, at the close of Sotheby’s historic auction. “This was a great two days. The prices were amazing... amazing across the board. Colored stones, colored diamonds, white diamonds, pearls... everything. A lot of records were broken. It was a great night and it is very good for the industry.”
   Two absolutely unique diamonds and their disarmingly seductive colors — The Orange at Christie’s and the Pink Star at Sotheby’s — have left an indelible mark on even the most experienced industry veterans, lingering in their minds as vivid symbols of the most successful jewelry auction week in history.

The Orange, a 14.82-carat fancy vivid orange diamond, sold for $35,540,612
at Christie’s.

   Christie’s November 12, 2013, sale gathered an impressive $125,360,131 and was sold 96 percent by value and 89 percent by lot, with 251 lots finding a buyer. The presale estimate was $70 million to $80 million. This compares to Christie’s May 2013 Geneva sale that totaled $102,140,780, with 257 lots sold.
   The top lot of the evening was The Orange, an extremely rare 14.82-carat, VS1, fancy vivid orange, pear-shaped diamond. The presale estimate for this unique diamond was $17 million to $20 million. It sold for $35,540,612,* or $2,398,152 per carat, setting a new world auction record price per carat for any diamond and a world auction record for an orange diamond. The buyer, a gentleman seated at the back of the room, wished to remain anonymous.
   The second top lot of the evening was the Patiño emerald and diamond necklace, by Cartier, which sold to an Asian private for $9,934,388. Not surprisingly, given the high prices recently recorded by natural pearls, the third top lot at Christie’s was a seven-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace, which sold to a private collector for $9,080,847. A world auction record price per carat for a Burma sapphire, and a record price for a contemporary designer, was set by a 58.29-carat cushion-shaped sapphire and multi-gem brooch designed by Anna Hu, which sold to an anonymous collector for $4,569,274, or $78,400 per carat.
   “There was so much action on every lot,” stated Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie’s Switzerland and Americas. “That is a great indication of the market, and a sign that things are well and healthy. There is no longer a price per carat, there is no longer a diamond weight, jewels and gemstones are sold for whatever one has to pay for them and people have now started buying great jewels like works of art, just like you buy a Picasso, a Van Gogh or a Rothko.”

Van Cleef & Arpels Walska Briolette Diamond Brooch sold for $10,555,778 at Sotheby’s.

   History was made by Sotheby’s jewelry department on November 13, 2013. A presale estimate of $112.5 million to $153 million had set the bar very high indeed. When the auction house achieved the highest jewelry sale total in history — an astonishing $199,512,930 — a salesroom absolutely packed with dealers, buyers and media from all over the world exulted. The 366-lot sale was 97.3 percent sold by value and 91.8 percent sold by lot, with 336 lots finding buyers. By comparison, Sotheby’s May 2013 Geneva sale totaled $78,229,556, with 564 lots sold.
   The breathtaking top lot was the Pink Star, renamed The Pink Dream by the new owner, a 59.60-carat, Internally Flawless fancy vivid pink, type IIa diamond (shown on the cover). It sold for $83,187,381, or $1,395,761 per carat, a new world auction record for any diamond or any jewel, period. “The stone will basically go into a fund, for which we will buy additional stones,” stated Isaac Wolf, a well-known diamond cutter based in New York City, who placed the winning bid from the front seats of the room. “It will be investment money, Wall Street money, professional money and we are kicking off with this gemstone that we saw as a remarkable opportunity,” he continued, implying there is a ring of investors behind the purchase. “We are going to build a serious fund of at least $2 billion, maybe up to $5 billion, buying only very, very special things. We want to marry Wall Street to 47th Street.”
   Sotheby’s landmark sale recorded extremely strong prices and set several new records. A world auction record for a jewel by Van Cleef & Arpels was obtained by the closing lot, the spectacular Walska Briolette Diamond Brooch, set with a 96.62-carat, VS2, fancy vivid yellow briolette diamond. It sold to an anonymous buyer for $10,555,778, or $109,250 per carat. A pair of 23.77-carat and 23.78-carat brilliant-cut, D color, Internally Flawless, type IIa diamonds sold for $9,213,009, or $193,754 per carat, setting a world auction record for a pair of colorless diamonds. The Richelieu Sapphires, a pair of magnificent Kashmir sapphire and diamond earrings of 26.66 carats and 20.88 carats, set a new world auction record for a Kashmir sapphire, for a sapphire jewel and for price per carat for any sapphire, selling for $8,358,520, or $175,821 per carat.
   “This was really a historic sale,” summed up David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry department in Europe and the Middle East. “We broke a number of records, the most important, of course, being the new world auction record for a diamond or any jewel. Today’s auction of Magnificent Jewels also realized the highest jewelry sale total in history, at just under $200 million. These results highlight what has been a spectacularly successful sale at every level of the market.”
   With The Orange and The Pink Dream, five of the top six diamonds ever sold at auction have all sold in 2013, making it in many ways The Year of the Diamond.
* All prices include buyer’s premium. 

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - December 2013. To subscribe click here.

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