The 102.39-carat D color flawless oval-cut diamond, which will be the only item to be sold in the auction at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 5. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)
A 102.39-carat D color flawless oval-cut diamond, which will go on the block in a single-lot sale at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on October 5, is being widely being billed as having the potential to become one of the the most expensive stones ever to sell at auction.
In an unusual move, the auction house has declined to provide a pre-sale estimate, but market analysts have said that diamonds of similar size and quality have previously attracted bids in excess of $30 million, although figures as low as $12 million are also thought possible.
Online bidding on the stone will open September 15, and the process will end at a live auction in Hong Kong on October 5. Before then, the diamond is scheduled to be available for viewing, by appointment only, in Beijing, Shanghai, New York and Taipei.
Because the sale is taking place without a reserve, it will be sold regardless of the size of the highest bid. But Sotheby’s is optimistic a good result will be achieved in Hong Kong.
“Never before has the appreciation for world-class diamonds been so acute in the world and more and more people have come to understand that something billions of years old and of the size of a lollipop can store as much value a Rembrandt self-portrait or a Basquiat,” said Gary Schuler, Sotheby’s Worldwide Chairman of Jewelry.
“Diamonds of this caliber attract interest well beyond the traditional pool of collectors,” said Patty Wong, head of Sotheby’s Asia. “This innovative sale seems to us the best way to introduce this exceptional diamond to the world in the current circumstances where travel is restricted and act as a great indicator of the vitality of the demand.”
DIAMOND DISCOVERED AT NOW RETIRED CANADIAN MINE
The newly discovered diamond was cut from a 271-carat rough stone found in the Victor Mine in Ontario, Canada, and then cut by Diacore, a company with a rich history of crafting large polished sones, including 203.04-carats De Beers Millennium Star and the a 59.60 carat Pink Star.
An unusual detail is the diamond is being sold after mine at which it was discovered has closed down. May 2019, 10 years and 10 months after the official opening in July 2008, production at De Beers Group’s Victor Mine in northern Ontario came to an end.
De Beers Group Exploration discovered Victor in 1987, and it became Canada’s first economically viable diamond deposit, almost five years ahead of the better-known diamond discoveries in the Northwest Territories.
Since construction of the mine began in 2006, De Beers spent $2.6 billion to build and operate the mine, of which $820 million went to indigenous people and local businesses in northern Ontario. In addition, the company has paid $110 million in royalties to the Government of Ontario and another $100 million in corporate social investment and payments to communities.
The 271-carat rough stone found in the Victor Mine, from which the 102.39-carat oval-cut diamond was cut. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)
De Beers’ Victor mine in northern Ontario in Canada, during its final years of operation.
EIGHTH WHITE DIAMOND OF COMPARABLE SIZE AND QUALITY
According to Sotheby’s, the 102.39-carat stone will be only the eighth white diamond of comparable size and quality to sell at auction.
Of those, the most expensive was a rectangular 163.41-carat diamond, which sold for $33.7 million at Christie’s in Geneva in November 2017. The most paid for an oval-shaped stone was $30.8 million, which was the amount paid for a 188-carat flawless white diamond at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in 2013.
These prices still pale in comparison to the results for fancy colored diamonds at auction. In 2017, the 59.60-carat Pink Star was sold for $71.2 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, and in 2015 the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon” diamond sold for $48.4 million at Sotheby’s in Geneva.