When the Summer Olympic began in Beijing in 2008, the opening ceremony commenced at exactly at 8:00 PM, on eighth day of the eighth month of the eighth year of the new millennium. This was no coincidence, the number 88 symbolizes fortune and good luck in Chinese culture, with the word “eight” in both Cantonese and Mandarin sounding very similar to word for wealth in both languages.
Be it intentional or just a matter of serendipity, the special status of the two-digit number was not lost on the Sotheby’s auction house, which will be putting an 88.22-carat, flawless diamond as the top lot of its Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite on April 2.
According to Sotheby’s, the D color, flawless, type Ila, diamond should go for between $11.2 million to $12.7 million. It is the largest oval stone to go on public sale in the past five years.
The 88.22-carat D color, flawless, type Ila oval-cut diamond scheduled to go on auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on April 2. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
PRACTICALLY PERFECT BY ALL CRITERIA
But it is not only lucky numbers that have the auctioneers excited. According to Sotheby’s, the stone is “perfect” just about in every way, meaning that it received the highest grade possible for “color, clarity, cut, polish and symmetry.
In a statement released by the auction house, the company noted that only a handful of diamonds more than 50 carats have been ever offered for public sale with all these qualities, and it is one of only three oval-shaped diamonds of more 50 carats to go on the block.
According to David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, “barely any diamonds of this weight are known to possess the same exceptional qualities of purity and perfection as this remarkable stone which is so full of fire and blinding brilliance.”
SHAPE SELECTED TO PRESERVE MAXIMUM WEIGHT
The 88.22-carat stone was from a 242-carat rough stone that was discovered in the Jwaneng mine in Botswana, owned by Debswana, which is jointly owned by De Beers and the country’s government.
The stone was cut and polished over a period of several months. According to Sotheby’s, the elongated shape of the rough the oval shape was selected in order to preserve the greatest amount of weight.
“When you think that one ton of mined earth yields less than a carat of diamond, and that high-quality diamonds over 10 carats are a rarity, the discovery of a 242-carat rough, of gem quality and exceptional size, is nothing short of a miracle,” said Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia. “The perfect 88.22-carat diamond is a summary of everything: a wonder of nature, a masterpiece resulting from man’s ability to shape the hardest material on earth into an object of ultimate beauty and the most concentrated form of wealth.”