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
2 posts from May 2014
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.)