Rapaport Magazine

An Auspicious Start

Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction beat its own record price for sapphires twice in one sale.

By Mary Kavanagh
8.41-carat internally flawless fancy vivid purple-pink diamond ring sold for $17,768,041. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s set two new world auction records at the Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite autumn sale on October 7 — one for the highest price for a fancy vivid purple-pink diamond and the other for the highest price per carat for a sapphire. “We are always optimistic,” said Quek Chin Yeow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman and head of the jewelry department, Asia, when asked if the auction house had expected the pink to achieve a new world record. “All the collectors and dealers we showed the pink diamond to said it was one of the most beautiful stones they had ever seen.”
   The stunning 8.41-carat pear-shaped internally flawless fancy vivid purple-pink diamond and white diamond ring was mounted by Sotheby’s Diamonds. It sold to a private Asian telephone bidder for $17,768,041,* or $2,112,728 per carat, above the high estimate of $15,500,000. The previous world auction record price and record price per carat for a fancy vivid pink diamond were set by a 5-carat stone sold in Hong Kong in November 2009 for $10,776,660, or $2,155,332 per carat.
   The October auction achieved the third-highest total ever for the sale of jewelry in Asia, bringing in $75,275,870. The 339-lot sale was sold 69 percent by lot and 67.2 percent by value. This compares to Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale in April 2014, which brought in a total of $106,615,865, and in October 2013, which achieved $95,473,557. “We were pleased with the results, especially in view of the world economy,” Quek said. “It is a good opening to the auction season.”

New Records for Kashmir Sapphire
   Sotheby’s was also thrilled to achieve consecutive per-carat price records for Kashmir sapphire, according to a company statement. First to break the record was a 12-carat step-cut Cartier Kashmir sapphire, emerald and diamond ring that sold for $2,324,742, or $193,975 per carat, only to have the new record smashed in the course of the evening by The Imperial Kashmir, a 17.6-carat step-cut unheated Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring that sold for $4,056,701, or $236,404 per carat.
   Both rings attracted a lot of interest from both trade and private buyers and were keenly contested. The previous per-carat record for a Kashmir sapphire — $5,093,000, or $180,731 per carat — was set at Sotheby’s New York in April 2014 for a 28.18-carat stone and “even though we thought we had a good shot at breaking it,” Quek said, “to have two broken consecutively on the same evening is quite satisfying.”

Fancies and Colors
   Colored gemstones and fancy diamonds dominated the top lots, with only one white diamond in the mix. “It was a conscious decision not to take many white diamonds this season,” Quek said. “But the ones we took did very well, such as the Harry Winston ring. It was the only white diamond in the top ten and it achieved well above the estimate.” The ring was a 25.40-carat emerald-cut diamond flanked by two tapered baguette diamonds that sold to an anonymous buyer for $2,015,464, well above its high presale estimate of $1,550,000.
   The second top lot of the evening was a magnificent 3.32-carat emerald-cut internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond and diamond ring. It sold to a private Asian buyer for $5,355,670, significantly above the high estimate of $4,300,000. A rare 35.72-carat step-cut Colombian emerald and diamond ring from the famed Muzo mine was the third top lot, selling for $4,345,361.
   Another sale highlight, in fifth place among the top ten lots, was a pair of ruby earrings from the Mogok mine in Burma. The rubies, which originated from the private collection of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, weighing 6.80 carats and 6.70 carats, respectively, were each set within a border of ten cushion-shaped diamonds weighing 8 carats in total. The earrings were bought by a private Asian collector for $2,974,227.
   As expected in Hong Kong, jadeite items were also popular, with two featuring in the top ten. An exceptional multicolored jadeite Guan Yin ornament — a Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion believed to bring luck and peace — sold for $1,860,825, more than double the low presale estimate of $750,000. And a jadeite and diamond necklace from a private collection sold for $2,324,742.
   The beautiful diamond and pearl Ballerina Butterfly brooch, co-designed by designer Cindy Chow and actress Sarah Jessica Parker to benefit the New York City Ballet, sold for $1,212,036, considerably above its high presale estimate.

Fewer In-Room Bidders
   The auction was not as well attended as others in recent years, but the lack of in-room participants did not seem to affect demand for the top lots. “We were a bit surprised that the room was not busier,” said Quek. “But it did not impact the bidding because at this level, the buyers often want to remain anonymous.” He added that many of the bidders had previously viewed the items in which they were interested at the previews so being present at the auction was not a necessity. There was a good mix of trade and private buyers, yet nine of the top ten lots were bought by Asian private buyers. According to Quek, there were many instances where members of the trade who were actively bidding lost out to private buyers.
   Colors — pinks, blues, greens and reds — in both diamonds and gemstones continued their run of popularity witnessed at other recent auctions. The results confirmed the growing trend for high prices in the two categories that “we have seen over the past two seasons for colored diamonds and colored stones,” Quek said of the autumn sales.
   * All prices include buyer’s premium.

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

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