The 303.1-carat Golden Canary, set to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York on December 7, 2022.
2022 must just be remembered as the year of the fancy-colored diamond. Following the $57.7 million sale of the 11.15-carat Williamson Pink Star, now called the Rosenberg Williamson Pink Star, by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 5, 2022, and the upcoming sale at Christie’s in Geneva where the 18.18 carat pear-shaped Fortune Pink will go on the block, Sotheby’s has just announced that its Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on December 7 will feature a yellow diamond weighing more than 300 carats.
Called the Golden Canary, it is a pear-shaped stone weighing 303.1-carat, with a fancy-deep-brownish-yellow hue. It also holds the status pf being the largest flawless or internally flawless diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Sotheby’s has said the stone will without a reserve price, with the bidding starting at a single dollar. The final asking price, however, is expected to exceed $15 million.
“The demand and appetite for [extraordinary colored diamonds] continues to grow,” said Quig Bruning, head of jewelry for Sotheby’s Americas. “Steeped in history, the Golden Canary is one of the most exquisite diamonds to ever be discovered, not only for its sheer size and intensity in color, but for its stunning beauty that is sure to captivate collectors around the world.”
As is now standard practice for large fancy-colored diamonds, Sotheby’s will conduct a world tour before the auction, showing the stone in Dubai; Taipei, Geneva and Hong Kong, before its arrives for sale in New York.
890 CARAT ROUGH STONE
The Golden Canary has an unusual history. It was sourced from a rough stone weighing 890 carats, which was discovered by a young girl in the town of Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, near the famous MIBA mine. It is presumed to have been produced at the mine, but rejected as being worthless and thrown into one of the rubble dumps that surround the facility.
The girl gave the diamond to her uncle, who sold it to some local African diamond dealers. They in turn sold it to a group of Lebanese buyers.
The stone reached Antwerp, where it was purchased by a buyer from De Beers. Sir Philip Oppenheimer, who then headed what was called Central Selling Organization, sold it to Donald Zale, chairman of the board of the Zale Corporation, who bought the stone in partnership with two legendary New York diamantaires, Marvin Samuels and Louis Glick.
In 1984, Zales celebrated its 75th or diamond anniversary. To mark the event it was put the stone on display in the Natural History wing of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
The 890-carat stone from which the Golden Canary originated. It was first rejected as worthless by the MIBA mining company.
The 407.8-carat Incomparable diamond, the original iteration of what eventually was recut at the Golden Canary.
FROM THE INCOMPARABLE TO THE GOLDEN CANARY
To get proper value for the stone, it had to be cut. The job fell to Samuels, who had extensive experience in the cutting of large diamonds.
The partners had a dilemma. They could cut a diamond with a weight exceeding the 530.2 carats of the Cullinan I, which can be found in the Royal Scepter of the British Crown Jewels and is still the largest polished diamond on record. To do that, however, they would have to produce an included stone.
Samuels wavered, but eventually decided it was more prudent to go for the better quality polished diamond. The result was a weighing 407.48-carat triangular shield-shaped step cut, which Samuels called the triolette. It also was internally flawless and fancy brownish-yellow. It was the third largest diamond ever cut. T
On October 19, 1988, the diamond was offered for sale at Christie’s in London. The reserve price was set at $20 million, but it was withdrawn when the highest bid received was $12 million.
The diamond was then recut to its current weight of 303.1 carats, with the intent being to deepen the color and brighten the hue. Now called the Golden Canary, it set is set to become another chapter in the fascinating story of fancy colored diamonds in 2022.