AUCTION – Bulgari’s most valuable gem to premiere at the Met Gala on Monday before Sotheby’s sale

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With the presentation of the Bulgari Laguna Blu – an 11.16 carat blue diamond, one of the most remarkable diamonds ever sold by Bulgari and its most valuable gem ever, Sotheby’s completes a trilogy of unique and extraordinary coloured gemstones sale announcements following the recent unveiling of the Eternal Pink (estimate in excess of $35 Million), the most valuable purplish pink diamond ever to appear at auction, and the Estrella de FURA 55.22 (estimate in excess of $30 Million), the largest ruby ever to come to market.

Whilst both the Eternal Pink and Estrella de FURA 55.22 will be highlighting Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction in New York on 8 June, the Bulgari Laguna Blu will star in Sotheby’s Luxury Week in Geneva from May 12 to May 16.

AUCTION – Bulgari’s most valuable gem to premiere at the Met Gala on Monday before Sotheby’s sale

 

Picture courtesy of Sotheby’s

The Bulgari Laguna Blu is a gemstone like no other, boasting an exceptional colour saturation and a vibrant oceanic blue, with provenance from a Distinguished European Collection. Created in 1970 by Bulgari as a ring – at a time when Bulgari was undergoing some of its most significant transformations and emerging as the most influential and innovative Italian high jewellery house in the world – the Bulgari Laguna Blu is a rarity three times over:

A 11.16 carat Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond – Blue diamonds, of any kind and any size, are among the rarest coloured diamonds. A fabulous accident of nature, blue diamonds are produced by the presence of the trace element boron within the diamond’s carbon structure during its formation deep in the earth’s core. Blue diamonds over 5 carats are rare, those over 10 carats rarer still.

Any blue diamond qualifying as Fancy Vivid – the brightest hue a diamond can display – over 10 carats are extremely rare indeed: fewer than ten Fancy Vivid Blue diamonds over 10 carats have come to auction anywhere in the world in the past few decades, four of which were sold by Sotheby’s.

A jewel Signed by Bulgari – The Bulgari Laguna Blu was initially mounted as a ring by Bulgari for a special commission by the original owner with a pear-shaped stone – the third largest pear-shaped Fancy Vivid blue diamond ever to come to auction. In 1970, Bulgari was at the zenith of its osmosis with Hollywood glamour, as epitomised by the demonstrable fondness charismatic and influential stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Ingrid Bergman, Anita Ekberg, and Sophia Loren, among many others, had for Bulgari jewels.

AUCTION – Bulgari’s most valuable gem to premiere at the Met Gala on Monday before Sotheby’s sale

Picture courtesy of Sotheby’s

By the mid-1950’s, Bulgari had started to introduce more daring chromatic combinations of precious and coloured stones gracing designs both borrowing and celebrating Roman artistic and architectural heritage. Cornflower blue sapphires or forest-green emeralds might find themselves associated with richly saturated citrines, amethysts, or tourmalines in one and the same Bulgari piece. This trend for boldness in colour associations and sculptural jewellery was unleashed across the 1970s and beyond, becoming one of Bulgari’s most enduring and identifiable aesthetics.

Bulgari mounted the Bulgari Laguna Blu into an elegant, pared down ring, exposing all the facets of the stone to their best vantage point, demonstrating the jeweller’s ability to maximise the intrinsic beauty of an exceptional diamond. 

Unseen and unmodified – The Bulgari Laguna Blu has remained in the same family ever since its acquisition in 1970s. Therefore, it would have only been seen by a privileged few since its creation before being offered for sale this May. By virtue of the era in which it was cut, another rare quality of the Bulgari Laguna Blu lies in the fact it is an unmodified stone. In the fifty years since the Laguna Blu was facetted, diamond cutting technology has progressed to enhance coloured diamonds even further by faceting them as modified brilliant cuts in order to increase the perceived saturation of colour. So, this 1970 diamond may have more dazzle to release yet.

The Bulgari Laguna Blu diamond will be first unveiled at the forthcoming Met Gala on 1 May, before going to Geneva where it will be exhibited at the Mandarin Oriental from 11 May, ahead of its sale during Sotheby’s Luxury Week in Geneva this May.

The Bulgari Laguna Blu is part of a wider collection by the same consignor which includes another two white diamonds signed Bulgari, from the same early 1970s period:

– a pear-shaped diamond weighing 12.08 carats (estimate CHF 550,000-640,000 / US$ 600,000-700,000);

– a step-cut diamond weighing 18.78 carats (estimate CHF 830,000-1,285,000 / US$ 900,000-1,400,000).

The collection is completed by a fourth stone signed Pederzani, a pear-shaped white diamond weighing 8.33 carats (estimate CHF 325,000-460,000 / US$ 350,000-500,000).

Blue Diamonds at Sotheby’s

While a very small number of important blue diamonds were sold at auction over the last few decades, it was not until 2007 when the landmark Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong sold a 6.04 carat, internally flawless emerald-cut Fancy Vivid Blue diamond for a record price of US$1,321,495 per carat, breaking the 20-year-old record held by the famous ‘Hancock Red’, and propelling all sizable Fancy Vivid Blue diamonds to new market levels of a minimum of US$1,000,000 per carat.

Since then, blue diamonds at auction have had an admirable auction track record. However, all previous prices were totally eclipsed first in 2014 by the Mellon Blue Diamond at Sotheby’s New York, now renamed the ‘Josie Blue’, which sold for US$32.6 million (US$3,348,205 per carat). In 2015, records shattered again when Sotheby’s Geneva sold ‘The Blue Moon of Josephine’, a 12.03 carat cushion-shaped Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Blue diamond for US$48.5 million (US$4,028,941 per carat), which established the former price-per-carat auction record for any diamond or gemstone.

Most recently, in April 2022, a significant new benchmark for the diamond market was set at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, when the extraordinary ‘De Beers Blue’ – a 15.10 step-cut Fancy Vivid Blue diamond, the largest of its kind ever to appear at auction – sold for HK$451 million / US$57.5 million – among the highest prices ever achieved, for diamonds of any colour, on the open market.

Sotheby’s now holds four of the top five highest prices for Fancy Vivid Blue diamonds at auction:

The De Beers Blue

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Step-cut, 15.10 carats, Internally Flawless

Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, April 2022

Sold for HK$ 450,925,000 / US$57,470,391 (US$3,806,090 per carat)

The Blue Moon of Josephine

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Cushion-shaped, 12.03 carats, Internally Flawless

Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2015

Sold for US$48,468,158 (US$4,028,941 per carat)

The Memory of Autumn Leaves

Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond

Pear-Shaped, 14.54 carats, Internally Flawless

Sotheby’s Geneva, May 2017

Sold for US$42,087,302 (US$2,894,587 per carat)

The Mellon Blue Diamond (now renamed ‘The Josie Blue’)

From the Bunny Mellon Collection

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Pear-shaped, 9.75 carats VVS2 Clarity

Sotheby’s New York, November 2014

Sold for US$32,645,000 (US$3,348,205 per carat)