Prices Continue to Rise for Rare, Fancy Diamonds

24-Carat ‘Moon of Baroda’ Diamond Sells for $1.3M

 

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Hong Kong—The 24-carat yellow diamond that captivated Indian and Hollywood royalty alike sold for $1.3 million at the Christie’s Hong Kong jewelry auction Tuesday.

The “Moon of Baroda,” a 24.04-carat fancy yellow pear modified brilliant-cut diamond suspended on a black leather cord, nearly doubled its highest pre-sale estimate of $750,000 (when including buyer’s premium).

Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe wore the stone in 1953 while promoting the release of “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” the film where she famously sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

Christie’s said the Gemological Institute of America determined the diamond was unearthed at Golconda, the region of India known today as Hyderabad that produced some of the world’s biggest and most beautiful diamonds until its mines ran dry in the early part of the 20th century.

Christie’s said The Moon of Baroda was likely mined there between the 15th and 17th centuries.

At one time, the diamond might have been part of the collection of the Gaekwads of Baroda, one of India’s wealthiest ruling families.

In more recent years, the diamond has belonged to Cleveland, Ohio-based diamond cutter Samuel H. Deutsch, who bought it in 1944 and sold it to Meyer Rosenbaum, president of Detroit’s Meyer Jewelry Company, in 1953.

Nearly four decades later, The Moon of Baroda went up on the block at a jewelry auction, selling at Christie’s New York for $297,000 in 1990.

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Selling alongside the Moon of Baroda at Christie’s Hong Kong Tuesday was a black-and-white photograph of Monroe wearing the necklace (pictured above), signed and inscribed with: “To Meyer Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda.”

The picture went for about $35,000, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate.

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Also sold Tuesday at the jewelry auction was “The Peacock Necklace” (pictured above), a diamond and sapphire necklace set with 21 Kashmir sapphires weighing a total of 109.08 carats.

The auction house estimated it would go for between $12 and $15 million. The necklace ended up selling at the high end of its estimated range, garnering about $14.9 million.

By Brecken Branstrator, National Jeweler

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As Argyle Nears Its End, Prices for Reds and Pinks Soar

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Perth, Australia—Rio Tinto doesn’t release many details when sharing the results of its annual Argyle tender but, then again, one doesn’t need many specifics to trace the trajectory of red and pink diamonds prices.

They are climbing and will continue to do so as the closing date for the Argyle Mine in Western Australia draws closer.

And though the London-based miner always has been tight-lipped about the Argyle Pink Diamond Tender results—it doesn’t reveal the sale’s total, prices paid for individual diamonds or names of buyers (unless allowed)—it did note that the 2018 sale set numerous records, including tender total and prices per carat.

The diamond that sold for the most money was the “Argyle Muse,” a 2.28-carat fancy purplish-red oval.

Purchased by an undisclosed bidder, Muse is now the most expensive diamond sold in the 34-year history of the tender.

Muse took the title from Everglow, the fancy red Optimum Diamonds LLC bought last year.

Though he declined to reveal the Everglow’s purchase price, Optimum CEO David Shara said the 2.11-carat diamond is for sale for $18 million.

It is also being offered as part of a collection of more than 60 red diamonds amassed by the CEO and his business partner; he said it is the largest collection of its kind in the world and is worth about $200 million.

For Shara, natural colored diamonds, particularly those originating from the Argyle mine, are akin to a “very specific painting from a very specific artist.”

The wealthy want to own rare diamonds from Argyle for the same reason they are paying huge amounts of money for works for art, like the $450 million a Saudi prince spenton Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” last year—they want to park their money in tangible, portable assets at a time of geopolitical instability worldwide.

“That’s how people are treating these rocks,” he said.

The desire for colored diamonds is also evident in the auction market, where the stones are continually setting records.

At a jewelry auction just last week, Christie’s sold an 18.96-carat pink diamond for $50.4 million, or $2.6 million a carat excluding fees, a new price-per-carat record. And the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction is still a pink diamond, the nearly 60-carat Pink Star, which garnered for $71 million.

According to Shara’s estimates, the prices paid for a 1-carat vivid pink or a 1-carat fancy red in this year’s Argyle tender were up 41 percent year-over-year, and he expects prices for Argyle pinks and reds to spike at least another 40 percent when the mine closes 18 months from now.

“That’s what the market dictated, the dealers and the privates, everyone who bought. That’s people understanding the mine will be closed in 2020 and that there will be two, maximum three, more tenders and that’s it. It’s finished.”

Rio Tinto did not respond when asked to confirm this fact, but the mining company did state in its tender results press release that in the past 18 years, the value of Argyle pink diamonds sold at the tender have appreciated more than 400 percent, outperforming all major equity markets.

Shara said despite the continual upward trajectory, he’s not concerned about the bottom falling out of the market for Argyle’s pink, red and violet diamonds. While there has been some price correction in colored diamonds, Rio Tinto’s mine is a finite resource for which the finale is drawing near.

“That’s what so fascinating about it. That’s my gamble.”

Rio Tinto’s 2018 sale of pink, red and violet diamonds from Rio Tinto’s Argyle mine in Western Australia included a total of 63 diamonds weighing nearly 52 carats.

Among them were a half-dozen “hero stones,” the top diamonds in the group to which Rio Tinto ascribes individual names.

%Jeweler NYC %NYC Wholesale DiamondsIn addition to the Muse, they were the:

—Argyle Alpha, a 3.14-carat emerald-cut fancy vivid purplish-pink;
—Argyle Maestro, a 1.29-carat square-cut fancy vivid purplish-pink;
—Argyle Alchemy, a 1.57-carat fancy dark gray-violet princess;
—Argyle Odyssey, a 2.08-carat fancy intense pink round brilliant; and
—Argyle Mira, a 1.12-carat fancy red radiant.

Glajz THG in Singapore, a manufacturer of bespoke pieces, bought the Alpha, while Gemcut Geneva was the winning bidder for the Odyssey. Gemcut Chief Executive Matthew Aldridge said the Odyssey is a match for another Argyle stone sold in the tender about 15 years ago.

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New York-based diamond company Leibish & Co. bought three stones in the 2018 tender, two of which sold the day they were purchased, said the company’s director of content marketing and public relations, Meira Ovadia.

Leibish’s remaining stone is lot No. 63 from the sale, a 2.34-carat radiant-cut the company has dubbed the “Kimberley-Rose.” The diamond is fancy intense pink and SI1 clarity.

By Michelle Graff, National Jeweler

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The Highly Anticipated Sale of the Pink Legacy Diamond
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Geneva—Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale held Nov. 13 in Geneva garnered more than $110 million, and nearly half of that was due to a very special pink diamond.

The Pink Legacy, the 18.96-carat rectangular-cut fancy vivid pink diamond, the largest and finest pink diamond Christie’s has offered at auction to date, is now part of the Harry Winston collection.

Christened the “The Winston Pink Legacy,” it sold to the iconic jeweler for $50.4 million, just exceeding its $30-$50 million pre-sale estimate.

It’s the most expensive pink diamond ever sold at Christie’s, and it set a world auction record for highest price per carat for a pink diamond.

Nayla Hayek, CEO of Swatch Group, which owns Harry Winston, said, “We are proud to continue in the Winston tradition of acquiring the finest gems in the world, and tonight The Winston Pink Legacy joins our incredible legacy collection, which began with the acquisition of the 101-carat, D Flawless, Winston Legacy diamond at Christie’s in 2013.”

Christie’s International Head of Jewelry Rahul Kadakia accepted the winning bid for the Pink Legacy after five minutes of “spirited bidding,” the auction house said.

“This exceptional diamond captured the imagination of international collectors across the globe, with over 30,000 people visiting Christie’s sale previews to see this remarkable stone,” Kadakia said. “It has taken its rightful place among the world’s greatest diamonds.”

The pink diamond previously belonged to the Oppenheimer family.

Christie’s said that, overall, its Magnificent Jewels auction sold 90 percent by value and 86 percent by volume, with signed jewels achieving particularly high prices.

A 1924 Art Deco Egyptian revival sautoir by Van Cleef & Arpels sold for $4,332,500, while an early 20th century steel and diamond Cartier tiara earned $492,500.

Four exceptional jewels by JAR were also hot items, with a multi-gemstone bouquet of violets brooch, created in 1993, fetching $732,500.

The Dodge Pearl Necklace, circa 1920, by Cartier well exceeded its $240,000 to $340,000 pre-sale estimate, garnering $1.2 million. The important piece was originally purchased by Horace Elgin Dodge, a founder of the Dodge Motor Car Company, for his wife Anna Thompson and, prior to that, are believed to have been in the collection of Empress Catherine II of Russia.

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Historic Christie’s Auction

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Christie’s puts under the hammer next week the largest fancy vivid pink diamond that the famed auction house has ever sold, expecting to fetch $30 million to $50 million for the nearly 19-carat, rectangular-cut gemstone.

The “Pink Legacy” will be the standout offering at Christie’s fall jewelry auction in Geneva on Tuesday.

The stone once belonged to the Oppenheimer diamond family, and Christie’s says it qualifies as a Type IIa diamond — the most chemically pure stones with little if any nitrogen. It says fancy vivid pink diamonds over 10 carats are “virtually unheard of” in salesrooms.

 Christie’s sale kicks off two days of jewelry auctions in Geneva. On Wednesday, Sotheby’s will auction jewelry once owned by French Queen Marie Antoinette that hasn’t been seen in public for 200 years.

Denis Balibouse CNBC

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