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 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 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.
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