What to Buy in a Pandemic: Diamonds and More Diamonds

Christie’s online sale is a big success

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Graff’s 20.21-carat yellow-brown diamond necklace.

Are brown diamonds the next big thing? The top selling lot at Christie’s all-diamond online sale this week was a stunning Graff necklace with a 20.2 carat yellow-brown diamond drop, which realized $325,000. That was just one of several exceptional cognac-colored diamonds that sold for top-dollar at this week’s sale along with diamonds in every imaginable color.

Graff’s diamond necklace with 20.21-carat yellow-brown diamond sold for $325,000

It was a big week for Christie’s, which raked in $1.5 million at its Jewels Online Summer Sparkle sale, the house’s first all-diamond online auction. The summer sale also attracted a large number of new registered bidders from over 20 countries.

The numbers illustrate how the jewelry auction market has changed forever as a result of the pandemic. Over the past six months when most people were stuck at home, jewelry sales remained strong at the leading auction houses worldwide because more and more people gained confidence to buy big ticket items online – sight unseen. Up until now, the online auctions generally sold more moderate-priced jewels while the high-priced items were reserved for the live auctions where people can view the pieces in advance.

The all-diamond sale also underscored the growing desire for unusual fancy colored stones as both a beautiful and unique jewel and an investment. A prime example is the exceptional fancy purple-pink diamond ring which sold for $56,000, far beyond the pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000. At just one carat, the stone is relatively small, but top-quality colored diamonds like this one have proven to be a good investment and have consistently gone up in price over the years. Another showstopping ring, a fancy yellow diamond ring of 8.16 carats, sold for $81,250.

A rare one-carat purple-pink diamond sold for $56,250

This 8.16-carat fancy yellow diamond ring realized $81,250

But it wasn’t just fancy colored diamonds that had bidders going well beyond the estimates. The specially curated sale featured a number of contemporary-style white diamond designs, including a 5.3 carat pear-shaped diamond in a sleek east-west setting, which realized $75,000. A more classic 12.02 carat old-mine brilliant-cut diamond achieved $118,750 (pre-sale estimate was $50,000-$70,000) and an oval-shape 4.80 carat diamonds realized $87,500 (pre-estimate was $40,000-$60,000).

A 4.80-carat diamond ring sold for $87,500

A 5.03-carat pear-shaped diamond ring sold for $75,000

“This year brought unprecedented circumstances, but as we found it did not deter people from shopping online,” says Edward Klopfer, Associate Specialist for Christie’s Jewels. “We’ve seen increased levels of global participation and incredible results from our online only auctions. Earlier this summer, we set a new benchmark for Jewels Online with the sale of a 28.86 carat D color diamond, which sold above its high estimate for $2.1 million.”

The sale wasn’t just about great diamond rings. Glamorous diamond chandelier earrings were also highly sought after. Graff ‘s Bohemia earrings sold $43,750, which was went well over the $25,000-$35,000 pre-sale estimate. “Diamond chandelier earrings are such a great seller at auction because not only are a they timeless accessory, but today they are so versatile,” explains Klopfer. “Women are much more comfortable putting on a great pair of statement earrings with a casual outfit; they don’t need to save them for a special event.”

Graff diamond Bohemia earrings realized $43,750

After this enthusiastic response to Christie’s online diamond dedicated sale, we will likely see more exceptional diamond jewels hit the online auctions this fall. And just think, you can shop some of the world’s best diamonds without ever leaving the couch.