What makes a diamond worth $44 million? In the case of the Bleu Royal, aside from its mesmerizing blue hue, it was the largest internally flawless vivid blue diamond ever to appear for sale in auction history. There may never be another one like it for sale at auction again.
When a vivid blue diamond over 10 carats comes to auction, it’s a headline making event. That’s because they are so rare and prized that jewelry collectors, or anyone with hard cash to invest, will spend whatever it takes to get it. It’s not hyperbole: In Christie’s 250-year history, only three vivid blue diamonds over 10 carats have ever appeared at its auctions.
This wasn’t the only stunning vivid blue diamond sale this fall. On October 6, Sotheby’s sold the Infinite Blue, an 11.28-carat vivid blue diamond, at its Hong Kong sale for $25.3 million. It is among the highest prices ever achieved for a diamond at auction in Asia.
With today’s volatile global events, more people looking to invest in hard assets, like diamonds and gemstones. Historically, diamonds of this caliber have always served as global currency. That’s one reason prices are robust, and that’s also the reason some collectors who own these rare jewels are inclined to sell now when they know prices are strong.
What makes natural blue diamonds a rare collectible?
In the world of fancy colored diamonds, blue stones are the rarest after red diamonds, which over one or two carats are virtually unheard of. Still, even in the rarified world of blue diamonds, only about one percent of those stones submitted to the Gemological Institute of America’s lab for grading are deemed to be “fancy vivid.” That’s the highest possible rating, indicating the most intense and vibrant shade of blue.
Back to the lucky buyer of the Bleu Royal. When it was discovered, it was cut and polished into a perfectly symmetrical pear, which enhanced its rich vivid blue color and flawless purity. It sold at the high end of its estimate of $35 million to $50 million, which amounts to about $2.5 million per carat. It was set in a ring flanked by a 3.12-carat and a 3.7 carat brilliant-cut diamond.
“This is a true miracle of nature,” said Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s International Head of Jewelry.
The Infinite Blue also has an interesting story. It was discovered in Petra Diamonds’ Cullinan mine in South Africa. It’s a Type IIb diamond meaning it has little to no nitrogen like Type IIa diamonds but contains boron, which gives the stone its blue hue.
Beyond its inherent characteristics, the diamond was strategically cut so that the number 8 would be part of its carat weight (11.28 carats), which is considered a symbol of prosperity in Asian culture. The number, which appears like the infinity symbol, is responsible for the diamond’s name too. It appealed to an unnamed Asian buyer, who paid one of the highest prices for a diamond sold at auction in the region.
“The Infinite Blue’s beautiful blue hue, elegant cut, and unique physical properties make it one of the most irresistible diamonds to appear on the market,” said Wenhao Yu, Chairman of Jewelry and Watches, Sotheby’s Asia. “It’s been an honor to have been entrusted with the opportunity to offer a diamond of such breathtaking beauty, its price attesting to the resilient demand for top quality-colored diamonds amongst global collectors.”
Here’s a list of blue diamonds over 10 carats sold at auction, and the jaw-dropping prices.
The Oppenheimer Blue, a 14.62-carat vivid blue diamond, sold for $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva in May 2016. It was named for Sir Philip Oppenheimer, the former chairman of the De Beers diamond company who owned the stone.
The Blue Moon of Josephine, a 12.03-carat internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond, sold for $48.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2015. Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau purchased it as a gift for his then seven-year-old daughter Josephine.
A 10.10-carat vivid blue diamond sold for $32 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2016.
The Cullinan Dream, a 24.18-carat fancy intense blue diamond, sold for $25.3 million at Christie’s New York in June 2016. It wasdiscovered in 2014 in the storied South African Cullinan mine.
The Wittelsbach-Graff, the historic 35.56-carat fancy deep greyish-blue diamond, sold for $24.3 million atChristie’s London in December 2008. It came with a great provenance: Dating back to 1664, the 35.56-carat belonged to Spanish, Austrian, and Bavarian royalty before Laurence Graff purchased it.
The Winston Blue, a 13.22-carat flawless fancy vivid blue pear-shaped diamond, sold for $23.8 million at Christie’s Geneva in May 2014.