On April 19 and 20, both Sotheby’s and Christie’s held well promoted New York auctions. Sotheby’s was relying on its star auction item, the coveted Shirley Temple blue diamond ring. The ring is a 9.54 carat Fancy Deep Blue diamond ring that was gifted to her by her late father around her 12th birthday, and which coincided with the debut of her famous movie, The Blue Bird. Sotheby’s ended up selling a total of $29,886,875 for the evening, but failed to sell the Shirley Temple ring. The very next day, Christie’s was relying on its own star lot, a 15.99 carat ruby named the ‘Jubilee Ruby’. Christie’s ended the evening’s auction with a total of $57,029,250 in sales, and successfully sold the Jubilee Ruby.
Sotheby’s Best Efforts End up Breaking a Record
The Shirley Temple ring, even if sold for the low estimate of $25 million (which would have totalled about $28 million including the sales premium), would have counted for about 48%, or half of the total sales. That number would still be less than the total sold by Christie’s the following day. However, Sotheby’s still had some nicely earning sales that evening.
The star of the evening still ended up being a fancy color diamond, a 12.45 carat Fancy Purplish Pink Diamond. It sold for a total of $4,562,000, or $366,425 per carat, after an estimation of a final price between $3 million – $5 million. If its clarity would had been higher, in the VVS+ clarity range, its final sale price would have been much higher than its estimates. It is rather rare to see such a diamond in this size. The diamond could have had an SI1 clarity, and was recut to get a higher clarity in order to make it a more attractive sale, rather than get a significant premium for size. This method is used quite often in diamonds. If there is little loss of weight but it would be easier to sell and get the same price, then it is applied.
12.45 carat Fancy Purplish Pink Diamond Image credit: Sotheby’s
The runner up priced item that was sold that evening was a colorless diamond. The 19.25 carat D color VVS1 emerald cut diamond (with IF potential) was sold for $2,290,000, or $118,961 per carat. The estimated final sales price was between $1.8 million – $2.2 million total. In this case, should it be re-polished and the loss of weight is 0.25 – 0.50 carats to get it to an IF, it would be well worth the re-polishing efforts. The increased clarity would bring up the value further than the value of the loss of weight.
The 19.25 carat D color VVS1 emerald cut diamond Image credit: Sotheby’s
The third highest priced item sold that evening was another colorless diamond. The 15.37 carat D color VVS1 diamond (with IF potential) was sold for $1,570,000 total, or $102,147 per carat. Here too, we see that there is a potential increase in value with re-polishing the stone. However, the stones differ slightly in this regard. At this price and with these specifications, it would be best if the loss of weight would be contained to 0.37 carats to try to keep it above 15 carats in weight.
The 15.37 carat D color VVS1 emerald cut diamond Image credit: Sotheby’s
The fourth highest item on the list is a unique 5.06 carat Fancy Light Blue pear shaped diamond. The estimate was set quite low at $300k to $500k total or $59k to $99k per carat. However, the blue diamond ended up selling for almost three times its highest estimate and sold for $1.45 million or $286,561 per carat. Since 1995, there has only been eight such diamonds sold at auction. This diamond broke a record paid for any Fancy Light Blue Diamond sold at auction, and Sotheby’s remains modest about it. Not a single news outlet revealed this record to the public. You read it first here!
The 5.06 carat Fancy Light Blue pear shaped diamond Image credit: Sotheby’s
The last item that achieved over a $1 million sale price was a 9.57 carat Kashmir Sapphire that sold for $1.09 million or $113,897 per carat, after being estimated at $500k to $700k in total. It sold for about 56% above the high estimates.
The 9.57 carat Kashmir Sapphire and Diamond ring Image credit: Sotheby’s
Christie’s Sets Their Own Record
The top lot of Christie’s, the ‘Jubilee Ruby’, sold within its estimated valuation price range of $12 million – $15 million. The 15.99 carat Jubilee Ruby was sold at $14,165,000, or $885,866 per carat. This is not a world record price per carat for a ruby. The record was set by the 25.59 carat ruby sold by Sotheby’s in Geneva in May 2015. It was sold for a record $1.19 million per carat. Still, the Jubilee Ruby broke a record for price paid for a ruby sold in North America, which is a significant event when global instability is taken into consideration.
The 15.99 carat Jubilee Ruby in 2 angles Image credit: Christie’s
The 10.07 carat Fancy Intense Purple-Pink diamond that was estimated at $8-$12 million ended up selling for $8.845 million, a price at the low end of the valuation. This was due to its clarity of VS1, which is good but does not command high prices. It is still quite a rare find for such fancy color diamonds, but the investment community is looking for top quality and clarity diamonds for investments and are willing to pay a premium for them.
The 10.07 carat Fancy Intense Purple-Pink diamond Image credit: Christie’s
The third highest selling item was a 40.43 carat D color Flawless round brilliant diamond that was sold for $7,221,000 total, or $178,604 per carat. It was sold at the low end of its estimated evaluation of $7 million – $10 million.
The 40.43 carat D color Flawless round brilliant diamond in 2 angles Image credit: Christie’s
An important 54.62 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow VVS1 diamond sold at a price making it the fourth most expensive lot for that evening. It was sold for $2,461,000 or $45k per carat. Although it sold towards the high end of the valuation, it still sold for a low price per carat. We can safely assume that the color was a weak vivid yellow, in the 1-4 range out of the 1-10 color strength scale, making it more like a strong Fancy Intense color that was graded as a vivid. Other strong fancy vivid yellow diamonds have sold above $100k per carat that were much smaller in size, in the 10 carat range (1/5 the size!). This can be the only explanation for the final price per carat of such a large diamond.
The 54.62 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow VVS1 diamond Image credit: Christie’s
Another similar situation happened with the 30.48 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow VS2 diamond that was sold for $1.325 million, or $43.5k per carat. It sold above the average of the estimate, but again, the price per carat was a disappointment. We can only reiterate that color is king when it comes to fancy color diamonds, and here it was clearly a weak Vivid Yellow, making it less valuable.
The 30.48 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow VS2 diamond and colorless diamond ring Image credit: Christie’s
The last item on the review is a 39.12 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow Internally Flawless diamond that sold for $1.175 million, or a mere $30k per carat. Although the clarity was superb, we can assume that the color was weak, like a grade 2 at best. This price is given to a fantastic Fancy Intense Yellow, not a Vivid!
The 39.12 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow Internally Flawless diamond and colorless diamond ring Image credit: Christie’s
Human nature will tend to be attracted to negativity a lot faster and easier than to its opposite side, the good side. We can very easily tarnish and berate any auction, and any item sold, its price, its beauty and its history. As professionals, our mandate is quite unique in that we remove our emotions from the equation and solely rely on our intellect and expertise to financially evaluate a diamond for what it is. Once we do that and pass on the evaluation to the potential buyer or seller, it is now up to them to add any sentimental value to the item due to historical ownership, or emotional connection. Human are not perfect although with each other’s help, we can make the best decisions for ourselves and our own means!
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