The spring 2016 auction season achieved nearly US$800 million in sales between March and July, with fancy coloured diamonds and coloured gemstones top-billing the season’s offerings.
A report by Russell Shor of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) showed that Christie’s and Sotheby’s, which control over 90 percent of top-end gem and jewellery sales worldwide, beat 2015 records by more than US$140 million, aided by the Oppenheimer Blue, a fancy vivid blue diamond that sold for US$57.1 million.
Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Asia, was quoted as saying that the market still was being driven by private buyers from Russia and Asia.
The first major stone to sell in spring was the 10.10-carat fancy vivid blue De Beers Millennial 4 diamond. The stone was part of De Beers’ famed diamond collection of 10 blue diamonds that were exhibited at the London Millennial Dome in 2000.
The buyer of the Millennial 4 stone, a Hong Kong resident, consigned the GIA-graded diamond for sale at Sotheby’s April 2 Hong Kong sale, where it brought US$32 million, or US$3.2 million per carat.
Several major gemstones changed hands at Christie’s in New York on April 20, GIA reported. The 15.99-carat Jubilee Ruby, an unheated Burmese cushion-cut gem, became the most expensive coloured gemstone ever sold at auction in the US when it fetched US$14.2 million.
Another buyer paid US$8.8 million for a 10.07-carat fancy intense purple-pink brilliant-cut diamond and US$7.2 million for a 40.43-carat Type IIA D flawless diamond. Both diamonds were graded by GIA.
Sotheby’s, meanwhile, sold the Unique Pink, a 15.38-carat fancy vivid pink diamond for US$31.6 million in Geneva in May, a record for a stone of that grade.
In May, Christie’s sold the 14.62-carat fancy vivid Oppenheimer blue diamond that belonged to Sir Philip Oppenheimer. The gem took the title of the world’s most expensive gem ever sold at auction, according to GIA.