BLOG FROM THE GENEVA MAY 2016 MAGNIFICENT JEWELLERY AUCTIONS
Christie’s Oppenheimer Blue diamond sale achieves world record for any jewel sold at auction; highlights potential of extremely rare diamonds as asset class
GENEVA, May 19, 2016 – The sale of the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue diamond for 56.8 million Swiss francs (US$57.5 million) by Christie’s in Geneva set a world record for any jewel sold at auction, highlighting the strong potential for investment in extremely rare diamonds as a collectible asset class.
A bidding war between two telephone bidders lasted over half an hour until the auctioneer’s hammer concluded the sale on May 18, triggering a spontaneous burst of applause from an enthralled crowd packed into the auction room in the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva.
The Oppenheimer Blue is named after Sir Philip Oppenheimer, who was a previous owner of the gemstone, the largest and finest Fancy Vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction.
The sale price of the Oppenheimer Blue eclipsed that of the Blue Moon, sold at Sotheby’s Geneva auction in November for US$46.5 million, signalling continuing very strong buyer interest in rare, magnificent blue diamonds.
“The Oppenheimer Blue is the best blue that I have ever seen,” Oded Mansori of R.D.H. Diamonds told Jewellery Outlook on the sidelines of the auction after the sale.
Some diamond traders said they felt that the Oppenheimer Blue had the potential to achieve an even higher price, because of the superb quality of the stone and its extreme rarity.
On May 17 in Geneva, the 15.38-carat Unique Pink was sold at auction by Sotheby’s for US$31.6 million (estimate US$28-38 million), a record for a stone of its type, to an Asian buyer.
Ehud Laniado, chairman of Cora International, the seller of the Unique Pink, said the sale underlined the huge interest in extremely rare and magnificent natural colour diamonds.
He said diamonds can achieve excellent investment returns if they are supremely rare and beautiful.
“The big players are not looking at a diamond just as a jewel, but as an asset that has resale value,” he told Jewellery Outlook in an interview in the Beau Rivage hotel the day after the sale there of the Unique Pink.
Laniado said that extraordinary diamonds had the potential in future years to achieve hundreds of millions of dollars, and in some cases had been under-valued compared to the astonishing prices achieved recently for the most exceptional rare art.
Tobias Kormind, managing director of 77Diamonds.com, told Jewellery Outlook that in his view collectors should hold onto their top tier diamonds for around a decade before considering re-introducing them to the market.
He said that in his opinion, the new owner of the Oppenheimer Blue ought to maintain the name of the diamond because of its fabulous provenance through its link to the Oppenheimer family, who were the owners of De Beers for many years.
Kormind said the market for rare diamonds had great potential, but would be limited by new supply.
“There are more and more billionaires coming to the market,” he said, adding, “There is always the possibility of another discovery.”