Largest blue diamond goes to auction for $45m | Fin24

Largest blue diamond goes to auction for $45m

Apr 01 2016 18:15
James Tarmy

New York - The largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction is set to go on sale on May 18 at Christie’s in Geneva.

The 14.62-carat stone, the "Oppenheimer Blue," is named after its previous owner, Sir Philip Oppenheimer, whose family controlled De Beers for 80 years before selling its 40% stake to Anglo American for $5.1bn in 2012.

The diamond, whose “fancy vivid” designation rates it the highest and clearest saturation color blue possible, is estimated to sell for $38m to $45m.

The auction comes as the worldwide market for jewelry has sagged. Sales, according to Euromonitor International, dipped more than 4% in 2015, from $38.5bn to $36.9bn. The top of the market, however, has demonstrated consistent, record-setting resilience.

The last decade has seen a string of blockbuster prices for colored diamonds at auction. (Though there's a long history of colored diamonds being highly coveted, the Hope Diamond being the most prominent example.)

In 2008, the London jeweler Graff paid a record-breaking $24.3m for a fancy deep grayish-blue diamond at Christie’s London; two years later, Graff broke another record, paying $45.6m for a 24.78-carat pink diamond at Sotheby’s Geneva.

Last year, the Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau broke that record by paying $48.4m for a 12.03-carat, fancy blue diamond at Sotheby’s Geneva. (The night before, he paid $28.5m for a 16.08-carat pink diamond at Christie’s; both jewels, totaling $77m, were reportedly purchased for his then 7-year-old daughter.)

The sale of the Oppenheimer Blue will come on the heels of yet another potentially record-breaking sale, when a 9.54-carat blue diamond, once owned by the child star Shirley Temple, goes on sale at Sotheby’s in New York in April for $35m. The Oppenheimer diamond, however, has the potential to break all existing records.

There’s the diamond’s size, which is more than a carat larger than the previous record; its rarity, given that less than .0001 percent of all diamonds mined are blue, according to Christie’s; and finally its provenance - Oppenheimer founded the London-based Central Selling Organisation, the De Beers-backed diamond cartel that maintained global prices for more than half a century.

“Achieving the strongest colors in traditional shapes, such as the 15-carat Oppenheimer Vivid Blue can only be achieved with a highly saturated intrinsic color of the rough diamond," said Tom Moses, the executive vice president of the Gemological Institute of America, in a statement.

"This blue diamond’s color and clarity, combined with its traditional cutting style and provenance, is truly exceptional."

oppenheimers  |  de beers  |  diamonds  |  mining  |  companies


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