Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels Sale held on May 13, 2014 was significant in the history of jewelry auctions for more than one reason. The auction set an unprecedented seven world records, including the world record for a jewelry sale, the world record for a various owner jewelry sale and the world auction record for a yellow diamond. The auction included several exceptional colored and colorless diamonds, two of which came from Graff and exceeded the magical number of 100 carats; three colored and one colorless diamond set world auction records. The auction also included a rich assortment of exceptional colored gemstones, including Mogok rubies and Kashmir blue sapphires. Natural pearls continued to exhibit unprecedented demand as in other auctions, with many lots selling for many multiples of their upper estimate. Jewels with important provenance such as the collections of Flora Sassoon, Madame Picha Eisenstein and Jacqueline Auriol, the fastest woman in the world, also did extremely well at the auctions.
Out of 526 lots on offer, the top lot of the sale was Lot 507 – A Sensational and Rare Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Ring by Graff incorporating the “Graff Vivid Yellow” diamond. The diamond is a fancy vivid yellow, cushion modified brilliant-cut, VS2-clarity stone, exceeding the magical number of 100 carats, weighing exactly 100.09 carats. The shoulders of the ring are embellished with tiny brilliant-cut diamonds. The diamond is detachable from the ring and worn as a pendant. The diamond of exceptional beauty and extraordinary fire and brilliance with a sensational daffodil color had a pre-sale estimate of USD 15-25 million placed on it. The lot eventually sold for USD 16,347,848 within the pre-sale estimate. This was a new auction record for a yellow diamond breaking the previous record of USD 12,361,558 established by the Sun-Drop diamond (renamed The Lady Dalal) at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2011.
The price of USD 16,347,848 realized by the Graff Vivid-Yellow diamond also broke the auction record for a Jewel by Graff, which was previously held by a 5.00 carat cushion-shaped Fancy Vivid Pink ring, by Graff that sold for HK$83,540,000 (USD10,776,660) or USD 2,155,332 per carat at a Christie’s Hong Kong auction in December 2009.
The next highlight of the sale in terms of price achieved was Lot 500 – A Magnificent Diamond – mounted on a ring. The rare diamond, a 70.33-carat, cushion brilliant-cut, flawless, D-color stone with excellent polish and symmetry had a pre-sale estimate of USD 12,062,752 – 16,121,248 placed on it. In addition the GIA had certified that the diamond is a Type IIa diamond, that confirms the D-color/Top-color status of the diamond. Type IIa diamonds that are chemically pure and structurally perfect are absolutely colorless, and are said to be the “purest of the pure” of all diamonds, variously referred to as “whiter than white,” “brighter than bright,” and “diamonds of the purest water.” D, E and F color diamonds fall under this rare category and are known as “Top-color” diamonds. Only 1-2% of naturally occurring diamonds belong to this category. The diamond sold within the estimated range for USD 14,201,354, the second highest price achieved for a lot at the auctions.
The next two highlights of the sale in terms of prices achieved are two colored diamond lots, Lot 522 and Lot 526 that sold for USD 7,256,817 and USD 6,499,231 respectively. Lot 522 – A Very Fine Fancy Pink Diamond Ring – is claw-set with a marquise-shaped, internally flawless, fancy-pink diamond weighing 12.07 carats. A pre-sale estimate of USD 4,024,676 – 6,989,632 was placed on this lot, which sold even above the upper-estimate for USD 7,256,817, setting a world record price-per-carat for a fancy-pink diamond of USD 601,228.
Lot 526 – A Magnificent and Very Rare Fancy Vivid Blue and Fancy Intense Blue Diamond Ring – is a unique and exquisite ring of “toi et moi” (you and me) design, set with two matching pear-shaped blue diamonds between baguette-cut diamonds; one fancy-vivid blue weighing 3.08 carats and the other fancy-intense blue weighing 2.83 carats; both VVS1-clarity but potentially internally flawless. A pre-sale estimate of USD 4,024,676 – 6,989,632 was placed on the lot, which sold within the estimated range for USD 6,499,231.
Lot 487 – A Very Important Diamond – mounted in a ring, is a 25.32-carat, round brilliant-cut, internally flawless, D-color, Type IIa diamond with excellent polish and symmetry. A pre-sale estimate of USD 4,283,968 – 5,298,592 was placed on the lot, which sold much above the upper-estimate for USD 6,246,702 working out to price-per-carat of USD 246,710; a new world auction record for price-per-carat for a round brilliant-cut colorless diamond. The previous record for price-per-carat for a round brilliant-cut colorless diamond was set by a 28.86-carat, round brilliant-cut, flawless, D-color diamond that sold for USD 6,907,692 (USD 239,352 per carat) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2014.
Lot 506 – A Spectacular and Rare Diamond Ring by Graff – set with a round brilliant-cut diamond weighing 103.46 carats. According to the GIA the diamond is N-color and has a clarity of SI-1. A pre-sale estimate of USD 3,607,552 – 5,028,026 was placed on the lot which sold within the estimated range for USD 4,857,795.
The next highlight of the sale is Lot 525 – A Fine Fancy Light Pink Diamond Ring. The round brilliant-cut fancy light pink diamond weighs 10.11 carats and has a VS2-clarity.The diamond is claw-set between tapered baguette diamond shoulders. A pre-sale estimate of USD 507,312 – 806,063 was placed on this lot, which sold at a much enhanced price of USD 3,973,944 which was nearly eight times the lower estimate and five times the upper estimate.
The first seven highlights of the sale given above, based on prices achieved, were either colored or colorless diamonds. The eighth highlight of the sale was Lot 461, a colored stone piece, incorporating a magnificent cushion-shaped, 12.46-carat Mogok ruby, which sold for USD 3,721,425. The Lot characterized as “A Very Important Ruby And Diamond Ring” is set with a cushion-shaped ruby weighing 12.46 carats, between triangular diamond shoulders. The lot was accompanied by two lab reports from GGL and SSEF certifying that the ruby is of Burmese origin, with no indications of heating and a appendix letter from the SSEF expressing the rarity of the stone. A pre-sale estimate of USD 2,818,400 – 4,791,280 was placed on this lot which sold within the estimated range for USD 3,721,425. This lot is the top-lot of the many colored gemstone jewelry pieces that appeared at the auction.
The next highlight was a lot incorporating natural pearls. Lot 505 – An Important Natural Pearl And Diamond Necklace – was the top lot of the several natural pearl jewelry pieces that appeared at the auction. The necklace with a length of 54 cm (21.25 ins.) falls within the category of “Matinee” varying between 21-24 ins, and is composed of a strand of graduated natural pearls with diameter varying from 7.75 mm to 12.15 mm. The clasp of the necklace is decorated with a pearl within a floral motif millegrain-set with pear-shaped, single-cut and rose-cut diamonds. The SSEF report accompanying the lot certified that the 53 pearls incorporated in the necklace were natural saltwater pearls. A moderate pre-sale estimate of USD 253,656 – 355,119 was placed on the necklace. However, the necklace sold for a staggering USD 2,963,830 which was almost 12 times the lower estimate and 8 times the upper estimate, clearly indicating the persistent demand for natural pearls at public auctions.
The next two highlights of the sale Lot 493 and Lot 496 are both step-cut diamonds, the former weighing 17.25 carats and the latter weighing 30.01 carats, both mounted on rings. However, while the former is D-color with VVS1-clarity, the latter is H-color and internally flawless clarity. This explains the difference in the prices achieved by the two diamonds, the D-color, 17.25-carat diamond fetching a higher price of USD 2,576,018, while the H-color, 30.01-carat diamond fetched a slightly lower price of USD 2,440,735.
Lot 492 – A Very Fine Sapphire And Diamond Ring – is another important colored stone lot that appeared at the auction. The ring incorporates a 10.96-carat cushion-cut Kashmir sapphire, claw-set between demi-lune diamond shoulders. Two lab reports from SSEF and GGL certified that the sapphire is of Kashmir origin with no indications of heating. A pre-sale estimate of USD 1,240,096 – 1,578,304 was placed on this ring which was sold above the upper estimate for USD 1,764,319.
The seven world auction records set at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale held on May 13, 2014 are as follows :-
1) World record for a jewelry sale of US$ 143,135,770. Previous record of US$137,235,675 was set by the Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry sale at Christie’s New York in December 2012.
2) World record for a various owner jewelry sale of US$143,135,770. Previous record of US$111,836,526 was set at Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2012.
3) World auction record for a yellow diamond of US$ 16,347,847, set by the 100.09-carat, cushion-cut, fancy vivid yellow, “Graff Vivid Yellow” diamond. Previous record of US$ 12,361,558 was set by the 110.03-carat, pear-shaped, fancy vivid yellow “Sun Drop Diamond” (renamed Lady Dalal) at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2011.
4) World auction record for a jewel by Graff – The price of US$ 16,347,847 achieved by the “Graff Vivid Yellow” diamond ring is a new auction record for a Graff Jewel. The previous auction record for a Graff Jewel was held by a 5.00 carat cushion-shaped Fancy Vivid Pink Graff Ring, that sold for HK$ 83,540,000 or US$ 10,776,660 at a Christie’s Hong Kong auction in December 2009.
5) World auction record price-per-carat for a round colorless diamond of US$ 246,710, set by the 25.32-carat, round brilliant-cut, internally flawless, D-color, Type IIa diamond mounted in a ring, that sold for US$ 6,246,702. Previous record set by a 28.86 carat, round brilliant-cut, D colour, flawless diamond that sold for US$ 6,907,692 ($239,352 per carat) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2014.
6) World auction record price-per-carat for a fancy pink diamond of US$ 601,228 set by the 12.07-carat, marquise-shaped, internally flawless, fancy-pink diamond mounted on a ring, that sold for US$ 7,256,817. Previous record set by an 8.59 carat Fancy Pink diamond ring by JAR, that sold for HK$ 27,540,000 (US$3,571,938) – US$415,825 per carat at Christie’s Hong Kong in November 2012.
7) World auction record price-per-carat for a fancy light pink diamond of US$ 393,071, set by the 10.11-carat, round brilliant-cut, VS2-clarity, fancy-light pink diamond, mounted on a ring, that sold for US$ 3,973,944. Previous record set by an unmounted 5.08 carat, brilliant-cut, Fancy Light Pink diamond that sold for US$ 280,807 per carat at Sotheby’s New York in November 2012.