The 11.16-carat fancy vivid blue diamond ring, called the Laguna Blu, which sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva on May 16, 2023, for $25.2 million. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)
An 11.16-carat fancy vivid blue diamond ring, called the Laguna Blu, which was the featured lot in the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale on May 16, 2023, in Geneva, sold for $25.2 million, which was the highest amount ever paid for jewel by a Bulgari, the famed Italian jewelry house that today is part of the LVMH stable.
The sale, which matched the price that had been earlier predicted, ended not much later than after it began. It involved a four-minute battle between three telephone bidders and one more in the auction room, with the successful offer coming from among those who had called in from afar.
All in all, it capped a successful week for Sotheby’s, which recorded its best sale performance in five years, earning $85 million in total. More than half of the 133 lots on offer sold above their high estimates, and almost of all of the remainder were within pre-sale estimates.
A number of other lots brought in impressive amounts, including a fancy-intense pink and fancy-deep-grayish-blue diamond ring, offered by Diacore, which sold for $11.8 million, more than $1.1 million more than the $10.6 million pre-sale high estimate.
A fancy-vivid-yellow diamond ring was sold for $1.3 million for the house, more than twice its pre-sale estimate of $550,000, and among the other pieces that fetched more than $200,000 was a Padparadscha sapphire and diamond ring by Harry Winston, a Van Cleef & Arpels ruby and diamond parure, and a sapphire and diamond demi-parure.
The Laguna Blu, set in a ring, as it was at Sotheby’s on May 16, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)
RARITY THREE TIMES OVER
The Laguna Blu, whose color has been earlier described oceanic blue, was said to have come from a distinguished European collection. According to the auction house, it had remained in the same family since the original commission from Bulgari in 1970, meaning that it has only been seen by a select few since its creation.
According to the auction house, the Bulgari Laguna Blu is a rarity three times over. First it is large natural “fancy vivid blue,” which is the highest and rarest color grade for a blue diamond given by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Second it was mounted on a ring by Bulgari, which further increases its value. The third is that the stone had not been modified since the original sale, despite the technological advances that have been made in cutting and polishing in the past half century. The latter feature provides the tantalizing of the stone being recut to further enhance its value.
The Laguna Blu was part of a larger collection by the same consignor, which included another two white diamonds signed Bulgari, from the same early 1970s period, a pear-shaped diamond weighing 12.08 carats, and a step-cut diamond weighing 18.78 carats. The collection is completed by a fourth piece, signed Pederzani, a pear-shaped white diamond weighing 8.33 carats.
IMPRESSIVE BUT NOT UNPRECENTED PRICE
Sotheby’s had pulled out the stops for the sale, with the ring being displayedat the Mandarin Oriental in Geneva for five days before the action. Before then, it was worn at the high profile Met Gala in New York by Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the Indian actress, producer and winner of the 2000 Miss World pageant, who also happens to be Bulgari’s global ambassador.
Interestingly, at the New York event the Laguna Blu was the centerpiece of a necklace and not a ring. “Set in platinum, the shape of the necklace was inspired by the bay laurel wreaths worn by emperors in Greco-Roman antiquity, reinterpreting the pattern with a contemporary air of movement and light,” Sotheby’s wrote in before the red-carpet event.
The impressive price paid in Geneva still did not come to close to some the amounts paid for fancy colored diamonds in the past. Fewer than 10 comparable diamonds sold at auction houses worldwide over the past several decades, but they include the 15.1-carat “ De Beers Blue,’ which was bought more than $56 million, and the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon of Josephine,” for which the winning bid came in at $48 million.