Posts tagged pink diamond jewellery

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. 



The Biennale des Antiquaires was held with the usual fanfare this year in its usual venue in the Grand Palais in Paris.  It was my first visit to the Biennale and I loved the magnificent setting of the Palais, a fitting foil for the magnificent exhibits on show.  My head was turned by the variety of the exhibitors, but of course I went to see the jewellery.  Some of the big names were conspicuous by their absence, but there were a couple of newcomers, young companies who were outstanding: Cindy Chao and Nirav Modi.

In no particular order, the pieces I would have taken home:

  1. Rose Petal Earrings by Cindy Chao.

A truly original pair of earrings which epitomises Cindy’s fascination with nature.  Like in nature, no two are exactly the same and this is reflected in the asymmetric nature of the piece.  The earrings are fashioned in titanium- a very laborious process which nevertheless makes them very light to wear.  The mosaic pavé work of the different sized stones is a masterclass in the art of stone setting.

Asymmetric Beauty: Rose petal earrings in ruby and diamonds by Cindy Chao.

      2.  Padparascha Sapphire Lotus Ring by Nirav Modi

The central stone is a rare, unheated padparascha sapphire of peerless quality.  It is surrounded by beautiful D coloured diamonds that have been so finely set they look like they float on the hand.  Nirav Modi is opening his new showroom in Bond Street in London this month and we wish him every success

Pretty in Pink: Padparascha sapphire Lotus ring by Nirav Modi.

      3.  Art Nouveau Pendant by Georges Fouquet, exhibited by Epoque Fine Jewels. 

This Belgian company is well known in the high end art fair circuit, but I only came across it for the first time at the Biennale.  It specialises in very beautiful, very unique Art Nouveau jewels of museum quality- the value of these jewels lies in the piece as a whole, not the constituent parts.  This woman’s head pendant particularly took my fancy and would leave any true jewellery connoisseur drooling.

Museum quality piece: Art Nouveau pendant by Georges Fouquet.

      4.  Pink and Blue Diamond Necklace by Cartier, exhibited by Véronique Bamps.

This exhibitor had also been honoured by being awarded a coveted place in the Salon d’Honneur.  While many jewellers today would be tempted to overdress such an important stone such as this one, this necklace showed classic Cartier restraint and good taste.  The very pale pink pearls on which the pink diamond was suspended is a triumph of colour matching.

Restrained flamboyance: Cartier pink and blue diamond necklace.

      5.  Platinum and Diamond Tiara, probably by Chaumet, exhibited by Alain Pautot.

I couldn’t go to a jewellery show in Paris and not be taken in by a diamond tiara... Although not signed, this superb piece is thought to be by Chaumet, made at the turn of the century.  It is a lovely example of a Garland Style jewel and not difficult to see why Chaumet supplied anyone who was anyone with glittering headgear during the heady days of the Belle Epoque.

Belle Epoque beauty: Platinum and diamond tiara exhibited by Alain Pautot.

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