Posts tagged Shirley Temple Blue Diamond

The 59.60 carat Pink Star diamond. the most expensive gemstone in the world.

The Pink Star diamond last week became the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction.  Gem dealers had been looking at the sale, conducted by Sotheby’s, with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.  The excitement because of the quality of the stone: it is the largest pink diamond of its kind ever to be graded by the GIA.  The fabulous gemstone ticked every box: it is internally flawless and has been given the classification of Fancy Vivid Pink, the most sought after in coloured diamonds.  The icing on the cake for the stone was its designation as a Type IIa, meaning it is a chemically pure stone- a designation only given to 2% of gem quality diamonds.

The hammer comes down on the Pink Star diamond at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

Failed to sell: the Shirley Temple Blue diamond.

The apprehension came from the stone’s recent chequered history.  The stone had been auctioned relatively recently, in 2013, achieving a hammer price of $83 million- but the buyer defaulted on payment.  There has also been speculation recently on whether the eye watering amounts being fetched in the last few years by large coloured diamonds is sustainable.  After all, there aren’t that many people in the word who can afford such things, and within that clientele not all are interested, which makes the potential client base very small indeed.  The flop that was the sale of the Shirley Temple blue diamond was something Sotheby’s was anxious not to repeat again.  The prices achieved at auction for important coloured diamonds are the benchmark by which the industry sets the prices, so with colourless stones experiencing something of a lacklustre period at the moment diamond dealers were hoping for a whopper to underpin asking prices.

The stone was bought by the jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook, who was bidding by telephone, who has renamed it the CTF Pink.  It is the stone’s third rechristening: it was originally named the Steinmetz Pink, after the group who bought the 132.5 carat rough gem.  They spent a cautious 20 months cutting and polishing the stone, unveiling the finished 59.60 carat gem in all its glory at a ceremony in Monaco. 


Auction News: Magnificent Gemstones

The jewellery auction season is upon us and this year Sotheby’s and Christie’s are going head to head with some of the most magnificent stones seen on the market for some time.  I have previously written about the high demand for investment grade spectacular gemstones and the pieces on offer are sure to whet the appetite of collectors.  Each of the auction houses is presenting a stunning array of jewels, but for me the most special ones are the large coloured diamonds and precious stones.  Coloured diamonds have become bona fide investments as they are genuinely rare; there is no need to control the quantity of these diamonds coming onto the market, unlike the white diamond trade.

The Shirley Temple Blue Diamond

The top billing of Sotheby’s show (the pun is intentional) is the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond, a fine example of how a coloured diamond is going to yield a marvellous return. It was bought for Shirley Temple by her father for her 12th birthday as her film ‘The Blue Bird’ was wrapping up.  He paid $7210, or about $118500 in today’s money.  The pre-sale estimate on the stone is $25-$35million. The stone has been termed Fancy Deep Blue by the Gemmological Institute of America, is VVS2 in clarity and is a beautiful 9.54 carat cushion cut.  Due to the intensity of the colour and the superb quality and size of the diamond it is thought to have been originally mined in either the fabled Golconda mines in India or the Cullinan mines in South Africa.  Blue diamonds are given their hue by traces of boron in the crystal structure and the Gemmological Institute of America state that less than 0.5% of stones submitted to them can be called blue.

The Unique Pink Diamond

The next star to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s is the ‘Unique Pink’ Diamond. This stone comes with an estimate of $35 million.  It is the largest pear shaped Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever auctioned; it weighs a whopping 15.38 carats and comes from the Williamson mine in South Africa.  Unlike the famous Argyle mines in Australia, which specifically mine pink diamonds, the Williamson mine mainly produces white diamonds and if a coloured stone emerges, it is considered a bonus.  The Williamson also produced some decades ago a 20 carat pale pink diamond of superb quality; known as the ‘Williamson Pink’, it was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II and it often graces her lapel.  Pink diamonds are irresistibly mysterious, as no-one really know why they are pink- they do not contain traces of anything else found in coloured diamonds.  Even with this eye-watering price tag, the value can only go up- the Argyle mine in Australia, which produces over 90% of the world’s pink diamonds, is due to close in the next few years as it is running out.

The Jubilee Ruby

Completing the fabulous trio of amazing stones is the Jubilee Ruby being auctioned by Christie’s.  The oval fiery stone weighs 15.99 carats and is set in an inventive ring floral ring by Verdura- it is finished in yellow gold which only highlights the superb warmth of the stone.  The estimate: $12-$15 million.  It is known to come from the Mogok mine in Burma, which produces the world’s finest rubies.  As natural rubies of over 5 carats are supremely rare, to see one of this size exceptional.  It has no treatment at all and so is the dream of every gem collector.

I have no doubt that in the coming few weeks, some auction records will be broken and it just remains to us to watch this space.

Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Starring the Shirley Temple Blue Diamond: 19th April 2016, New York

Sotheby’s Magnificent and Noble Jewels: 17th May 2016, Geneva

Christie’s Magnificent Jewels and the Jubilee Ruby: 20th April 2016, New York

Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels: 18th May 2016, Geneva