Christie’s Ends Geneva Auction With Low Sales But A Record Breaking Yellow Diamond

This year, Christie’s finished its May auction in Geneva with CHF 81,620,500 of total sales, compared to CHF 93,108,125 from 2017, a decrease of 12.33%. This figure also represents a 44.4% decline compared to the high of CHF 146,818,625 in 2016, its highest sales figure in the last 5 years and the same year as Sotheby’s highest sales in the last 5 years.

Christie’s did not have any item sell for above $10 million and in fact, its highest sold item went for about $6.5 million, much lower than Sotheby’s highest sale price one day earlier.

However, Christie’s compensated for the lower sales by breaking a price record just like Sotheby’s did one day prior. It sold the 20.49 Fancy Vivid Yellow VVS1 diamond for a whopping $5.49 million or $267.8k per carat. This is a new world record of price per carat for any yellow diamond. The previous record was held by a 20.8 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow VS1 diamond that sold for $249.2k per carat on November 13, 2013 at a Sotheby’s Geneva auction.

The 20.49 Fancy Vivid Yellow VVS1 diamond          Image credit: Christie’s 


Why has a Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond reach this type of value? This is not an average Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond. The 20 carat yellow diamond that was sold by Christie’s has a very unique depth of color. Although it is certified as a Fancy Vivid Yellow by the GIA, it is also a Zimmi Yellow, a moniker given to a handful of yellow diamonds with a unique strength of color. Normally these types of vivid yellow diamonds which also surpass the 10 carat weight are considered extremely rare and will sell for well above $200k per carat on the market. Seeing one above 20 carats is truly unique and may be considered as rare as a vivid blue or pink diamond and therefore explains the price.


The 8.52 carat Fancy Intense Purplish Pink diamond with VVS1 clarity ended up selling for $6,275,000 or $736.5k per carat, higher than its highest valuation of $5 million. This was not a world record price but is certainly a strong price for such a color depth.

The 8.52 carat Fancy Intense Purplish Pink VVS1 diamond          Image credit: Christie’s 


The “moi et toi” ring with the 5.03 carat Fancy Intense Blue SI2 diamond and 4.16 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow SI1 diamond sold for $5,206,250. We’ll assume that the vivid yellow diamond sold for an appropriate value of about $50k per carat or a total of $208,000, which leaves the value of the blue diamond to be at just under $5 million, or about $1 million per carat. This is the current price for such a diamond so the ring sold well. Bruno Scarselli stopped bidding at $4.25 million (before the last bid of $4.35 million won). the $5.2 million is after all auction fees.

The 5.03 carat Fancy Intense Blue SI2 diamond and 4.16 carat Fancy Vivid Yellow SI1 diamond ring          Image credit: Christie’s 


The 21.03 carat Light Pink VVS2 diamond with a potential to improve the clarity sold for $2,532,500 or $120.4k per carat after its high valuation was $71.3k per carat. Perhaps there is also a color upgrade and not only the potential clarity upgrade? This would explain the price being so far above the highest estimate.

The 21.03 carat Light Pink VVS2 diamond          Image credit: Christie’s 

Strangely enough the 3.60 carat Fancy Dark Bluish Gray diamond was sold for over twice its high valuation. It sold for $540,500 or $150k per carat after being evaluated for $250k total at its high estimate. This acquisition was most likely been done for a collection that was missing a special color.

The 3.60 carat Fancy Dark Bluish Gray diamond          Image credit: Christie’s 


Finally, one interesting stone that sold this evening caught our attention despite the fact that it was not a diamond. There are no fireworks here to address per se, as nothing was really spectacular, but a 9.04 carat Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil with a slight heat indication was sold for $396,500 after being evaluated at a final price between $80k to $120k. After some research, it seems that there is not much Paraiba supply on the market which proves that the appreciation for rarity does not stop at fancy color diamonds and the age-old relationship between supply and demand.

The 9.04 carat Paraiba Tourmaline          Image credit: Christie’s 


Despite its disappointing sales, the record that the yellow diamond set this evening was very impressive. The auction season for the first half of 2018 has concluded, and only time will tell whether the major auction houses will continue to be able to obtain fancy color diamonds with investment grade color depth that will attract serious bidders. Got any questions about diamonds at auction or investing in diamonds? Ask in the comments!


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