Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blue Diamonds Breaking Records

A fancy vivid blue diamond ring broke the world record for price for carat when it went up for auction at Christie’s Wednesday.

The famed Bulgari Blue 10.95 carat, triangular shaped diamond, which is paired opposite a 9.87 carat white diamond of the same shape is the largest Fancy Vivid blue diamond to ever go to auction. In fact, Fancy Vivid blues of this size and pure color are a 1 in a 10 million find.

Bidding opened at $8 million, and soon narrowed to a bidding war between one gentleman in the room and two different bidders on the phone, before the ring was sold to a private Asian collector for $15.7 million. The price came out to $1.5 million per carat and just exceeded Christie’s Head of Jewelry’s, Rahul Kadakia, original pre-sale estimate.

The ring’s original owner purchased the rare piece for $1 million in 1962 from Bulgari’s flagship store, and taking inflation into account, sold it for three times the original price. The original owner purchased the ring as a gift for his wife for the birth of their son, and it remained in the family for over four decades until Wednesday.

Christie’s made blue diamond history once before when it auctioned off The Whittelsbach diamond, a 35.56 carat cushion shaped blue diamond for $24.3 million. The price tag, which was nearly double the estimated pre-sale bid, is the highest any single diamond had ever received at auction, beating a $16.5 million final bid from a Swiss auction in 1995.

The Whittelsbach diamond, whose color and clarity have been compared to the Hope diamond,( which it has been displayed alongside at the Smithsonian in Washington DC since auction), once belonged to the Austrian royal family before it passed to the Bavarian royal court through marriage in 1722.

It received its name when the diamond was placed in the coronation crown of the first king of Bavaria, Maximilian IV Joseph von Wittelsbach. Handed down for generations, it made its final public appearance in 1918 in the aftermath of WWII until it went up for auction in 1931. However, when it failed to sell due to the Great Depression, the diamond disappeared from the public.

The whereabouts of the large blue diamond during its lost years remain a mystery, and it didn’t resurface until a Jeweler recognized it in 1962 when he refused a request to recut it.

The diamond made history yet again when it was sold to billionaire diamond dealer, Laurence Graff, and was renamed the Whittelsbach-Graff diamond.

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