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2 posts from May 2014

Christie’s Sets All-Time Auction Record: 13 Carat Blue Garners $24 Million - JCK

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 Blue 13.22 ctjpgThe 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:

The Ocean Dream 5.5 ctThe Ocean Dream, a 5.5 ct. triangular-cut fancy vivid blue-green SI diamond, scored $8.63 million, a world record for a blue-green diamond.

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


TV Station Criticizes Store for Using EGL Int’l Reports - JCK

Diamond ring being held by fingersNashville jeweler Genesis Diamonds has come under fire from a local TV news station for using grading reports from EGL International, a lab that it says exaggerates diamond quality. 

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.)

“[Consumers] think they’re comparing apples to apples,” Forster said. “They think they’re getting a great deal. But it’s not the same thing.… If you went into a steak house and they said, ‘We’ve got the rib eye on sale for $10.’ [You say] ‘Wow, I’ll get the rib eye.’ And a few minutes later, your food comes out, and it’s a big hamburger.”

In response, Genesis owner Boaz Ramon told the show that even the same diamond lab sometimes produces varying results.

“Keep in mind, diamonds are subjective,” he told the program. “There is no argument when you take a diamond from a certain lab, and you send this same diamond to a different lab, you’ll get different results. But, in the end, its all reflected in the price for the consumer.”

Ramon later told JCK that his three-store chain will “make some changes,” including reducing the amount of EGL International reports it carries. But he says that 78 percent of its diamonds carry GIA reports. 

“We are not here to promote one lab over another,” he says. “We all know most jewelers carry all reports. We are not doing anything different than any other jeweler.” 

The second installment tracked an unhappy customer who, it claimed, “paid nearly $5,000 [for a diamond at Genesis] less than six months ago, but two trained gemologists have since told him it’s realistically worth around $1,200.” 

After the engagement went sour, the man returned to the store to ask for a refund, claiming the diamond wasn’t the quality he thought. With the news team’s hidden cameras rolling, a store employee told him in response: “The problem is that, you see, there are two different grading systems. One is the EGL, and one is the GIA.”

Genesis declined to give him a full refund, since Ramon said once a ring is worn, he can’t sell it again.

“Most people, for them, getting engaged is something very pure,” he said. “They want to start it right. They don’t want to wear a ring that somebody said ‘no.'"

In the end, the customer was offered $2,500, plus a $500 trade-in credit.

Ramon tells JCK that the ring was custom made for that customer, and the store’s policy is to offer a full refund after 30 days and trade-in credit after that. 

“The problem is, when someone tries to sell their diamond, it doesn’t matter if it’s from Tiffany or Harry Winston, the jeweler or pawnbroker will give you all the reasons the ring is not good, because they want to give you the lowest amount possible,” he says. “There is no industry where you buy something retail, and then you get retail back.” 

He says he offered the consumer a generous deal, which he was happy with. “I don’t know any other jewelry store that will give him 65 percent back for his ring including the setting,” he says.

Ramon adds the store will now make its return policy clearer on its invoices.

Overall, he blamed the story on fellow jewelers.

“Since we came to Nashville, we have been always attacked by the competition,” he says. “Before us, you couldn’t find a store in Nashville that carried Tacori, Martin Flyer, Jeff Cooper. We brought all that to town. Do the competitors like it? They don’t. Do the customers like it? So far, so good.”

Reporter Demetria Kalodimos told JCK she got interested in the issue because of a customer complaint “and it grew from there.”

“I’ve had a lot of email and phone calls from customers wanting to know what to do,” she says, adding she recommends they get their stone appraised by a graduate gemologist.

At the end of the second segment, the news anchor says that the show has been contacted by the Tennessee attorney general’s office, which recommends consumers take any complaints to the state division of consumer affairs.