A dazzling De Beers blue diamond sells for HK$451 million at auction

An exquisite vivid blue diamond – The De Beers Cullinan Blue – has sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for HK$451 million (US$57.5 million). This is just shy of the current record for a blue diamond, achieved in 2016 when The Oppenheimer Blue (14.62 carats), sold for US$57,541,779.

De Beers blue diamond gafencu
The DeBeers Cullinan Blue, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s Hong Kong

A vigorous eight-minute bidding war ensued between four diamond lovers eager to secure the 15.1-carat prize took the price well above the HK$380 million reserve with the precious gem going to a telephone bidder. Possessing exceptional clarity, it is the biggest internally vivid blue diamond that the Gemological Institute of America has ever graded. Blue diamonds of such dimensions are incredibly rare, with only five 10-carat-plus examples having reached auction previously – none of which have exceeded 15 carats, making the existence of this peerless gem truly unique.

De Beers blue diamond gafencu

“The (diamond) captivated me from the moment I laid eyes on it. With its powerful vivid colour, and breathtakingly beautiful cut, it is truly a once-in-a-generation stone, and quite simply the greatest blue diamond of its size I have ever seen during my 31-year-career,” said Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia of the sale.

Read our previous story on Blue Diamonds: A look at the world’s stunning coloured gems.

Huedunnit: Why colourless diamonds are playing second fiddle to coloured diamonds

While translucent diamonds have long been considered elegant and eminently desirable, their multicoloured counterparts have oft been decried as vulgar, trashy and, all together, the kind of gems no truly sophisticated girl would ever acknowledge as even a nodding acquaintance, let alone a best friend. Such, indeed, was the received wisdom, but – whisper it not – this supposedly time-honoured truth is now more than a little out of date.

Cartier Magnitude Equinoxe necklace with yellow diamond

Over the past few years, colour-free diamonds have gradually lost ground to their tinted brethren, with the pastel tones of the latter becoming ever more keenly sought out by gem-loving gentlefolk across the globe. Indeed, far from being inferior to their colour-free cousins, the rarity of these hue-imbued variants renders them far more valuable, with their per carat worth actually several times higher.

Jacob & Co. pink and blue diamond earrings

The belated recognition of this has seen jewellery aficionados across the world become voracious collectors of coloured diamonds. Indeed, according to Knight Frank, the global property consultancy (which also publishes an annual guide to luxury investment trends), demand for multi-spectrum sparklers has surged by some 113% over the last 10 years.

King Fook Jewellery green and pink diamond ring

Explaining this worldwide taste turnaround, Lily Leung, founding chair of the Asia Fancy Color Diamond Association, said: “For many, it’s now comparable to choosing to buy either a black-and-white or a colour TV. Ultimately, multi-hued diamonds are just more dramatic and offer more choice for customers.”

Harry Winston blue and pink diamond ring

As to which colour of gemstone is the most keenly sought out, well, while pink and blue diamonds both have their proponents, it is the red varietal that is by far the most precious. In fact, only 20-30 sumptuously scarlet specimens have ever been uncovered, making carmine-mining just about the most profitable pastime known to personkind.

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay

Blue Up: New blue-hued gem set to sink pink diamond reign

With pink diamonds currently the only gems any self-respecting member of la beau monde will be seen out and about with, it’s all too easy to forget the allure of the more earthy and calming coloured precious stones, notably those distinctly blue of hue. In fact, given that the largest blue diamond ever to be unearthed in Botswana has just seen the light of day, overlooking such luminescently luxurious items may just have become a degree or two more difficult.

20.46-carat blue diamond

The as-yet-unnamed brilliantly blue diamond was dug up by the Okavango Diamond Company, a state-run jewel mining conglomerate and, even in a country that prides itself in producing the most pristine of precious stones, this 20.46-carat giant of a gem was instantly hailed as Something Very Special Indeed.

Type Ilb Fancy Deep Blue diamond

Estimated to have coalesced into its current form some 500 million to 3 billion years ago, this Type Ilb Fancy Deep Blue boasts one of the most keenly sought-out colour classifications of any blue diamond, leaving any pale pink pretender to the throne looking distinctly pasty by comparison.

Bejewelled beauties: Our top 5 picks ahead of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction is taking place in Hong Kong on 3 April. Whether an avid jewellery collector or a gem connoisseur, this one’s a bidding war that you can’t afford to miss. Here we spotlight on five exquisite pieces that – in our opinion – are worth fighting for.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction

Ruby, Diamond and Emerald Brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels
Lot 1778

A classic bejewelled brooch in Van Cleef & Arpels’ signature extravagant style, the piece is estimated to fetch between HK$2,200,000-2,800,000. A beautiful swan in 18-carat gold, it features brilliant-cut diamonds with ruby feathers and an emerald eye, all brought to life by Van Cleef & Arpels’ exquisite craftsmanship, and is signed by the haute joaillerie maison.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction

Fancy Blue Diamond and Diamond Ring
Lot 1776

As gem connoisseurs would be only too aware, blue diamonds happen to be the most-sought after diamond category after red diamonds. So it should come as no surprise that this beautiful ring starring a fancy blue diamond worth 14.18 carats is estimated to go under the gavel at anywhere between HK$46,200,000 and HK$60,000,000. The surrounding bezel of pink diamonds mounted in platinum and 18-carat pink gold adds to the supreme value of the piece.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction

Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond and Diamond Ring
Lot 1621

With the craze for yellow diamonds on the rise, this exquisite ring – which boasts a brilliant-cut fancy vivid yellow diamond weighing 15.69 carats as its centrepiece – will probably be snapped up only after a closely contested battle. Add to that the two heart-shaped GIA-certified D-colour diamonds each weighing 1.01 carats, and the platinum and 18-carat yellow gold real estate of the ring, and we have a big scorer that’s estimated to fetch between HK$5,500,000-6,500,000.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction

Diamond and Emerald Bracelet, Cartier
Lot 1505

Featuring six prancing diamond horses created out of pavé-set brilliant-cut diamonds, with emerald eyes, this Cartier bracelet is expected to fetch anything between HK$320,000-480,000. Set in 18-carat white gold and 165mm long, this one’s sure to gallop to glory in the auction ring.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction

Diamond and Gem Set Necklace, Dior
Lot 1628

With a sizeable pear-shaped diamond worth 5.82 carats as its central anchor, this link chain necklace is a floral affair with coloured gemstones including rubies, sapphires, yellow sapphires, pink sapphires and emeralds and brilliant-cut diamonds, mounted on 18-carat white gold. Signed and case-stamped by Dior, this fetching piece is estimated to bring around HK$950,000-1,800,000.

To check out the full catalogue of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite auction, click here.

Text: Suchetana Mukhopadhyay