On June 19, 2019, Christie’s held its annual New York auction, with the exception of offering one of the rarest collection ever. They even named the auction “Maharajas & Mughal Magnificence”. The auction house offered almost 400 lots that day, and it is considered the second highest valued private jewelry collection ever to be offered at auction.
Our item of interest was lot #147; “The Pink Golconda Diamond”. Although it originated from the famous Golconda mine in India, it was sold inside a JAR setting. It was valued between $1.5 million to $2.5 million and ended up selling for $1,695,000 or just over $162k per carat.
It was a 10.46 carat, Oval brilliant cut, Light Pink Diamond with a VVS1 clarity. It was previously sold at a Sotheby’s auction on December 9, 2010, lot #467. Back in 2010, it was valued between $1.4 million and $1.6 million and ended up selling for $2,266,500. Having sold now for just under $1.7 million, do you think it was a good investment?
Several other items were quite interesting at the auction. “The Arcot II”, the 17.21 carat, pear brilliant diamond with a D color, and Internally Flawless clarity also came from the Golconda mine. It was valued between $2 million and $4 million and ended up selling for $3,375,000 or just over $196k per carat. The price realised is definitely due to the provenance of the diamond.
Provenance of the Arcot II diamond:
Muhammad Ali Wallajah, Nawab of Arcot (1717-1795)
Queen Charlotte (1744-1818), consort of George III, King of Great Britain
George, Prince Regent (1762-1830), later George IV, King of Great Britain, by descent
Rundell & Bridge, London
Auction by Sharp, London, 20 July 1837
Emanuel Brothers, Bevis Mark, London
Robert Grovesnor, 1st Marquess of Westminster (1767-1845)
Hugh Grovesnor, 2nd Duke of Westminster (1879-1953), by descent
Sotheby’s, London, 25 June 1959, lot 20
Baroness Stefania von Kories zu Goetzen (1939-2013)
Similar size, color and clarity diamonds sell for much less on the market; as much as half the price.
“The Mirror Of Paradise”, a 52.58 carat, D color with Internally Flawless clarity diamond was valued between $7 million and $10 million but ended up selling for $6,517,500 or just under $124k per carat. This diamond also derived from the famous Golconda Mine. The provenance is also mentioned: it was previously sold at a New York Christie’s auction on April 20, 1988 as well as at a New York Christie’s auction on December 10, 2013. Back in 2013, it was valued between $9.5 million and $12.5 million and ended up selling for $10,917,000 or just over $207k per carat. At that time it was not a record price per carat for a colourless diamond, but this was the approximate time that the peak for colourless diamonds took place. As of 2014, prices for colourless diamonds have been steadily going down, and in this case, it is clear that over the last 6 years, the value dropped by over 40%. Auction results from 1988 was not available on Christie’s website.
The top lot sold that evening was also an important historical piece. It is named “A Belle Epoque Diamond Devant-De-Corsage Brooch” by Cartier. It was valued between $10 million and $15 million and ended up selling for $10,603,500. This necklace also has a long history, going back to mid to late 1800’s. It was previously sold at a May 14, 2014 Christie’s Geneva auction. Back then, it was valued between CHF 6.5 million to CHF 11 million. It ended up selling for CHF 15,845,000. The hammer went down after almost 10 minutes of bidding between a caller and a person inside the room representing the buyer. I recall being in the room and recording the event on my phone. The starting bid was a mere CHF 4 million. Today the CHF/USD exchange is about 1.02 while back in 2014 it was about 1.1239. The final USD price was $17,808,196, which represents a 40% loss in value over the past 6 years.
Provenance of This Item:
Christie’s Geneva, 16 May 1991, lot 327
Solomon Barnato Joel (1865-1931)
In both the last 2 items, we see a significant loss of capital from an investment point of view. Some items are meant to be acquired for historical and artful (passion) appreciation rather than an investment. Knowing that an investment is never guaranteed, it is important to make an “educated guess” about investments and most importantly, to use an expert that understands both investments and diamonds.
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