Sotheby’s calls it the Ultimate Emerald-Cut Diamond—and it’s hard to argue.
The famed auctioneer will offer a 100.2 ct. D internally flawless emerald cut at its April 21 Magnificent Jewels sale in New York City. It is one of only five diamonds of that size and quality ever auctioned. (Two of those five were offered in the last three years.)
The diamond, the largest classic emerald cut ever sold at auction, is expected to fetch between $19 million and $25 million. That would come in under the price garnered by the Winston Legacy, the 101 ct. D flawless pear-shape that fetched $26.7 million in 2013, as well as the 118 ct. D flawless oval that took in $30 million that same year.
“The color is whiter than white, it is free of any internal imperfections, and so transparent that I can only compare it to a pool of icy water,” raved Gary Schuler, head of the Sotheby’s jewelry department in New York, in statement.
The original 200 ct.-plus rough was mined by De Beers in Southern Africa. The current owner spent over one year studying, cutting, and polishing it, Sotheby’s said.
The diamond will be exhibited in Dubai, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, and Doha, Qatar. It will be shown in New York City beginning April 17.
The popularity and price of fancy colored diamonds have been on the rise globally, driven by Asian investors.
From 2006 to 2014, fancy colored diamonds (pink, yellow, and blue diamonds) experienced an average total appreciation of 154.7%, according to the Fancy Color Research Foundation (FCRF), a non-profit colored diamond index that was established last year. In the same time period, the colorless, white diamond increased by 62.4%, according to the Diamond Prices Index.
China and Hong Kong now represent approximately 40% of sales of the fancy colored diamond market, according to FCRF. “Most increases in fancy colored diamond prices, particularly for pink diamonds, is driven by Asian customers,” says Tracey Greenstein, director of research at FCRF.
The high demand and extreme rarity of the colored diamond are what keep pushing up its price: It’s formed when a non-carbon element—such as nitrogen and hydrogen— is accidentally trapped during the crystallization process of the diamond. The foreign element is what renders the diamond colorful.
Outside of Asia, colored diamonds are often considered assets with highly attractive investment potential whereas colorless diamonds are more suitable for gifting. But in Asia, they are seen as both.
Edward Alvarado, director of colored diamond dealer, Diamintel notes that he often sees Chinese couples coming to his office looking for a colored diamond ring “for her” but walk out with “her ring and his ring.”
“A lot of men liked colored diamonds in China,” says Alvarado. “With white diamonds they might think it looks girly or flashy but with colored diamonds, they can choose some of the more masculine colors.”
As a Venezuelan company that supplies clients globally, Diamintel now sees 80% of their revenue coming from Greater China. Three years ago, Europe and the United States took up 50% of their total revenue.
Major auction houses have been bringing some of the most valuable natural color diamonds to market through the Hong Kong sales, whereas Geneva and New York were the two main focal points before, according to the Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA).
Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold an 8.41-carat purple-pink diamond for a record $17.77 million U.S. dollars in last year’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Autumn Sale. Just two months ago, a 13.88-carat yellow diamond ring and a pair of 6.30 and 6.15-carat diamond earrings sold for $466,667 and $312,821 U.S. dollar, respectively, in Hong Kong.
And the colored diamond phenomenon is not exclusive to Asia’s super rich. Many of the private buyers at the Hong Kong wholesale jewelry trade shows are part of the growing middle class nowadays.
“We live in a time of a democratisation of the diamond market,” says Diamintel’s Alvarado. “The market is getting a lot more educated and global- and it’s not just the traditional elites that are collecting but the savvy Asian investors as well.”
A new index by The Fancy Color Research Foundation (The FCRF) shows that fancy color diamonds have delivered strong and consistent price increases, outperforming key global asset indices since 2005.
Fancy color diamonds, predominantly yellow, pink and blue diamonds, have always been highly prized and rare assets. They are found randomly and unpredictably in diamond mines throughout the world and are enjoyed by sophisticated jewelry buyers and gem collectors alike. Consistent recent growth in values has reflected the changing dynamics of global wealth notably the fast paced growth of emerging markets and the appeal of fancy color diamonds as an investment product.
The Fancy Color Diamond Index (The Index) has been developed by The FCRF from proprietary access to tens of thousands of fancy color diamond transactions since 2005 and will be updated on a quarterly basis. The Index provides greater knowledge and understanding of fancy color diamond pricing trends to jewelry retail, wholesale and mining industries.
Fancy color diamonds, across pinks, yellows and blues, have increased in value by 167 percent on average since January 2005, outperforming other leading assets in a similar period, for example, the Dow Jones industrial average has increased 58 percent, Standard & Poor’s 500 has increased 63 percent and London house prices have increased 82.1 percent.
Looking in more detail the Index shows that pink diamonds have shown the greatest growth in value, up by 360 percent in the last nine years, with blues showing less dramatic but equally consistent growth of a 161 percent by value. Crucially, both pink and blue diamonds were unaffected by the global financial crisis with blues keeping their value and pinks still increasing through 2008 to 2010.
The publication of the Index marks the launch of The FCRF, which is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote fair-trade, ethics and transparency in the fancy color diamond retail, wholesale and mining industry.
The FCRF activity will encompass:
• Developing innovative research and digital tools that will support the fancy color diamond retail selling process for consumers, retailers and collectors;
• Promoting fair trade in fancy color diamonds throughout the value chain underpinned by reliable data analysis to create a uniform knowledge base across all industry layers;
• Authoring publications to clarify the complex methodology for evaluating fancy color diamonds;
• Correcting common misconceptions about evaluating fancy color diamonds.
The FCRF expects that together these activities will enhance consumer demand and retail understanding of fancy color diamonds.
The FCRF was initiated by Eden Rachminov, author of "The Fancy Color Diamond Book" and winner of the NCDIA education award. Ambitions and activities of The FCRF will be guided and evaluated by an experienced board of advisors that work throughout the diamond pipeline.
Rachminov, a member of the board of advisors for The FCRF, commented, “The launch of The Fancy Color Research Foundation is in response to the growth in fancy color diamonds transactions and the resulting need for greater education, understanding and clarity in the industry.
“The process and skills for evaluating fancy color diamonds are unique to this exceptional product. As a result there is a need to clarify misconceptions and to highlight the differences to evaluating colorless diamonds.
“In addition to publishing the Index, The FCRF is developing and publishing a series of practical tools, targeted at retailers. We are confident that The Fancy Color Research Foundation will be a significant influence on increasing demand within the fancy color diamond industry.”
Membership of the FCRF is open to retailers, auction houses, wholesale traders/manufacturers, financial institutions, insurance appraisers and mining companies. Organizations interested in membership of The FCRF should visit fcresearch.org to register details.
About the Fancy Color Diamond Index:
The Index is a first of its kind tracker of changes in the market prices of yellow, pink and blue fancy color diamonds, the three most commonly traded fancy color diamond categories (a market price is a wholesale transaction taking place in one or more of the global diamond trading centers).
The Index is a composite representation of changes in price points gathered since 2005, based on a statistically significant sample size. It offers insight into variations in the appreciation of diamonds of different colors and sizes.
The Fancy Color Research Foundation oversees proprietary prevalence and pricing data aggregation and production of the index. A third party New York-based audit firm reviews the development of The Index from the various data points gathered.
The Index can be used to understand and track the historical price behavior of different rare fancy color diamonds.
By Logan Sachon, Social Media Journalist
In one of two suits filed on Monday, a customer said a pair of three-carat diamond cufflinks he bought from Genesis, with color grades certified by a lab known as EGL International, turned out to be six to seven colors worse and far less valuable when analyzed by GIA, the most stringent diamond grading laboratory.
The same customer also bought an expensive anniversary ring he claimed was exaggerated by four color grades in its EGL International certification.
"There's a six-figure difference, over $100,000, between what my client was told these diamonds were worth and what an independent appraiser told us they were worth when we had them checked this year," attorney Brian Cummings said.
Last May, the Channel 4 I-Team talked to customers, former employees and competing jewelers who claimed Genesis often sold diamonds certified by EGL International. In many cases, those diamonds were not of the quality the customers expected.
There are now three lawsuits against Genesis concerning misleading customers about the quality of certain diamonds.
Eli Richardson, Genesis Diamond's attorney, said diamond grading is done with the human eye and the store stands by what it sells.
"All grading is subjective, and EGL International is known to be more lenient than GIA," Richardson said. "That does not make EGL International certifications fraudulent, just more lenient."
The two customers who filed suits Monday are represented by a different attorney than the one who alleged Genesis was breaking U.S. custom laws by offering EGL-certified diamonds, since the laboratory is involved in a complicated legal fight over its name.
Cummings said his customers had no idea their diamonds weren't worth what they paid.
"We have purchases in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by two different individuals at three very different price points, but the single common denominator was Genesis Diamonds told these people on different days these items were worth or what their grades were, were far from the truth," Cummings said.
Attorneys for Genesis said the store offered full refunds to both customers who filed a suit Monday, but both refused.
Genesis also said at least one of the pieces of jewelry at issue wasn't even certified as the suit describes.
Reported by Demetria Kalodimos - Channel 4 Nashville, TN
Will rare pink diamond auction sparkle for investors?
Pink diamond tender comes as wealthy Asian buyers spur rise in the precious stonesRio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining company, has launched its latest rare pink diamond auction in Australia as prices for the most sought after of precious gems stones are expected to surge. The 2014 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender collection which is going under the hammer comprises 55 diamonds, including 51 pink and purplish red diamonds and four Fancy Red diamonds.Only 13 Fancy Red diamonds have been included in the annual tender in the last 30 years.Diamonds are becoming an increasingly rare item as fewer mines remain in operation and new discoveries dwindle. According to Petra Diamonds there are only around 30 operational diamond mines still working around the world. De Beers estimates there is only a 1pc chance of finding a profitable diamond mine.Rio Tinto controls the market for pink diamonds from the Argyle mine in Australia. Around 65pc of the world's diamond supplies come from the Cullinan mine in South Africa. Jean-Marc Lieberherr, Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director said: "Decades ago, no one would have believed that Australia held the secret of diamonds, let alone virtually the world's entire source of rare pink and red diamonds."The pinnacle of the production from Rio Tinto's Argyle mine, the annual pink tender diamonds are now celebrated internationally as amongst the rarest and most valuable diamonds in the world. We have seen and continue to see sustained demand and price growth for Argyle pink diamonds." Investors have until October 8 to submit bids for the diamonds, which will be showcased in New York, Sydney, Perth and Hong Kong.According to Rio Tinto, the market for pink diamonds is quite separate to white diamonds, and due to their rarity, pink diamonds typically command prices far in excess of white diamonds. The world's biggest certified diamond is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found at the mine near Pretoria in 1905. It was cut to form the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, set in the Crown Jewels of Britain. However, most of the new demand for diamonds is now coming from the Asian market.In 2000, the whole of Asia made up 8pc of global diamond jewellery sales, while in 2012 China and Hong Kong alone made up 13pc, with the expectation that this will rise to 18pc by 2017. Bain's 2013 diamond report found that the stones have strong spiritual resonance in China, where diamonds are associated with eternity and high status. And the country's affluent middle class is predicted to grow by 60pc, or 200m, to a total of more than 500m over the next six years..
122.52 Carat Blue Diamond Found at Cullinan
The auction market may have just set a record for the shortest-lived record.
One night after Sotheby’s set a new benchmark for the largest jewelry sale ever with its $141 million sale in Geneva, the Christie’s May 14 Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva “blue” that away with an even-more-incredible $154 million tally.
Both topped the previous champ, Christie’s first-night sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry, which brought in $114 million.
The star of the Christie’s show was the Blue, a 13.22 ct. fancy vivid flawless pear-shape that fetched $24.2 million. The stone, accompanied by a letter from GIA that said it was the largest fancy vivid blue the lab had ever seen, was described by jewelry specialist Jean-Marc Lunel as “absolutely pure externally and internally. It is almost a dream.”
The stone’s winner was Harry Winston, which rechristened it the Winston Blue. This is the second time in the last year the Swatch Group–owned retailer purchased a notable stone; it spent $27 million on the 101.73 ct. D flawless Winston Legacy last May. “When Christie’s announced they were offering the largest flawless fancy vivid blue the GIA had ever graded, I had to buy it,” said Harry Winston CEO Nayla Hayek in a statement.
At $1,799,953 a carat, the sale may have scored a photo-finish per-carat record for a blue diamond, inching out an April 2013 sale at Bonhams, where a deep-blue cushion fetched $1,799,883 a carat. In any case, says president of Christie’s Switzerland François Curiel, “This is a record for a vivid blue flawless, while the Bonhams stone was deep blue, VS2.”
The overall hammer price, however, falls slightly short of the $24.3 million paid for the 35.56 ct. Wittelsbach in 2011.
The sale notched four other world auction records, including:
A 76.51 ct. square-cut light pink VVS1 necklace by Leviev realized $10 million, a record total for a pink diamond.
A 21.41 ct. Russian alexandrite took in $1.3 million, a record auction price for a piece of alexandrite.
A 49.04 ct. pink sapphire went for $2 million, a world auction record for a pink sapphire.
“The jewelry market continues to remain extremely vibrant, and we look forward to a buoyant season as we move into auctions at Christie’s Hong Kong, London, Paris, and New York,” said Rahul Kadakia, international head of Christie’s jewelry department.
Photos courtesy of Christie’s
While other stations have run stories on grading discrepancies, this may be the first time a store has been slammed for the reports it uses.
The story, which ran on local station WSMV, noted that Genesis frequently boasts about its low prices. But on the initial segment, which aired May 5, on-air experts charged that by using a lab with “lower standards,” consumers who buy the store’s stones think they are getting a better deal than they actually are.
One competing jeweler, Bob Forster, said he sent a Genesis stone graded G by EGL to GIA, where it got a K. Another stone graded D received a G. (EGL International did not return a request for comment.)
British auction house Woolley & Wallis has denied media reports that it’s about to sell the world’s largest natural pearl—but notes that the specimen it’s selling is still pretty impressive, and likely to fetch more than $400,000.
The pearl in question measures 16.5 mm by 17.4 mm, weighs 33.15 cts., and is a natural saltwater pearl.
“It’s incorrect to say that it’s the biggest natural pearl in the world,” says jewelry department head Jonathan Edwards. “There are probably a couple of bigger pearls in existence. But it is one of the—if not the—largest natural pearls to come up for auction.”
He says his research hasn’t uncovered a larger natural one sold in the last 50 years.
The pearl came in from a private source, whose wife wore it, along with a cultured pearl, as an earring. When Edwards suspected it was natural rather than cultured, he had its origin certified with the Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF).
In a special note, the lab wrote: “The pearl shows an attractive white color with weak rosé and green overtones, poetically also referred to as the ‘orient of pearls.’ Such overtones are due to an iridescence effect caused on the surface of pearls and that greatly contribute to their beauty.”
Its estimate is £250,000, or $419,000. The auction is slated for May 1.