At Christie’s auction house in Geneva on November 14, 2017, there was a very successful diamond and jewelry auction that included new price records set for pieces that were sold. Christie’s sold many unique and historic diamonds. Out of the top 10 highest valued items sold, four items were fancy color diamonds, three were colorless diamonds, one was a ruby, and two were sapphires. However, the night was not only about the auction – there was also a protest by a gem explorer named Yianni Melas against the Swiss jewelers de Grisogono about their practices in Angola on the same day, since the star of the auction was the de Grisogono “The Art of de Grisogono, Creation I” 163 carat diamond necklace.
The top lot by price, as was expected, was the 163 carat D color Flawless emerald cut diamond set in a de Grisogono designed diamond and emerald necklace, called “The Art of de Grisogono, Creation I”. The necklace was on display for months before it went under the hammer at auction, and prior to that it was in the news when the diamond was sold as a 404 carat rough by diamond miners Lucapa Diamonds in 2016. The diamond was billed by the auction house as the largest ever D color Flawless diamond ever sold at auction. Its price set a new world record for total amount paid for a colorless diamond when it ultimately sold for $33.7 million, or $206,230 per carat. The price did not break the world record for price per carat for a D color flawless diamond, just total price. That record per carat is still held by the 118.28 carat D color Flawless oval shaped diamond which was sold by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 7, 2013 for a total of $30.8 million, or $260.4k per carat.
The 163 carat D color Flawless emerald cut diamond set in The Art of de Grisogono, Creation I” Image credit: Christie’s
The 118.28 carat D color Flawless oval shaped diamond Image credit: Sotheby’s
The highest price paid for a fancy color diamond was the last lot under the hammer that evening, the “Le Grand Mazarin” diamond. The Grand Mazarin is a historic old mine cut 19.07 carat Light Pink diamond, with VS2 clarity. The diamond was sold for $14.5 million or $758,437 per carat, a record for the Light Pink color.
The 19.07 carat Light Pink “Le Grand Mazarin” diamond Image credit: Christie’s
The second highest priced sold item was the 8.67 carat Fancy Intense Blue emerald cut diamond. It is certified with VVS1 clarity with the potential for a re-polish to Internally Flawless clarity. The diamond was sold for $13.27 million, or $1.53 million per carat. The bidding started at $7 million, and quickly rose to its final bid. This makes sense because it is an extremely rare and beautiful diamond, and worth every penny spent. The upside is its potential, which is great due to its rarity and perfection.
The 8.67 carat Fancy Intense Blue VVS1 emerald cut diamond Image credit: Diamond Investment & Intelligence center
The next highest value item sold was the 9.17 carat Fancy Intense Pink SI1 diamond. The pink diamond was sold for $5.2 million, or $567k per carat. It is a low value paid for a low-quality diamond. As we all know, you get what you pay for. Investors are looking for the best quality overall diamonds, and are not willing to settle nor overpay.
The 9.17 carat Fancy Intense Pink SI1 diamond Image credit: Diamond Investment & Intelligence center
Another record broken that evening for a fancy color diamond was by the 5.08 carat Fancy Pink oval shape diamond with VS1 clarity. It sold for $3.3 million in total, or $646.7k per carat. The diamond sold so well because it is upgradable to a Fancy Intense Pink, which color would yield a higher value per carat. The previous record holder for Fancy Pink diamond price per carat at auction is the 18.51 carat Fancy Pink diamond that was sold on May 17, 2016 by Sotheby’s in Geneva for $528k per carat.
The 5.08 carat Fancy Pink VS1 oval shape diamond Image credit: Diamond Investment & Intelligence center
The 18.51 carat Fancy Pink diamond Image credit: Sotheby’s
The evening was not without some controversy. A gem explorer named Yianni Melas decided to culminate months of protest against de Grisogono by having a hunger strike against them in Geneva. Earlier this year, information came to light that Swiss jewelers de Grisogono were partially owned by wealthy Angolans, and the 163 carat diamond (formerly the 404 carat rough diamond) was mined in Angola. Angola is the poorest country in the world, and the social justice world was outraged that poor Angolans, who have the highest child and infant mortality rate in the world, and the lowest life expectancy in the world, were being exploited for the sake of diamond companies and consumers. While de Grisogono denies allegations that they have any Angolan shareholders and that they have any effect in Angola, the press still chose to vilify them. It is important to note that de Grisogono has pledged to donate a large percentage of the sales of the necklace to the village Lulo in Angola near which the diamond was mined for a health center and a school. Additionally, the diamond mining industry provides thousands of jobs for artisanal miners in the area. Diamond mining has progressed socially by leaps and bounds since the Kimberley Process was enacted in the late twentieth century. All of the diamond mining companies adhere to these rules because none want to enable the severe realities that are entangled in blood diamonds. The diamond industry long ago took responsibility to ensure the safe treatment of miners all over Africa, including fair pay, safe working conditions and social benefits. The funds that diamond companies pour back into the countries where they mine are crucial sources that benefit communities, villages, towns and cities for the improvement of millions of lives. Infrastructure is improving as a while in Africa, and even in another 25 years from now, it will be further improved by leaps and bounds. We hope that the same can be said for industries that are known even today for horrific working conditions such as electronics factories in Asia, the child slavery in the clothing industry in Bangladesh and similar countries, and so on. The truth is that when looked only from a negative light, any industry can be seen as a villain – but so much good is being accomplished and still planned, it is important to focus on the light and not the darkness.
Yianni Melas beginning his hunger strike at the Four Seasons Hotel in Geneva Image credit: Twitter
Diamonds will always be surrounded by a mixture of mystery and controversy. Fancy color diamond prices continue to rise, and the auctions in Geneva continue to be a crucial part of the price increase. Got any questions about the diamonds sold that evening or about diamond investments? Ask us in the comments!
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