Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Red Diamond’s Record-Setting Price of $5.09M Puts Exclamation Point on Auction World’s November to Remember

An ultra-rare 2.09-carat red diamond broke another auction record at Christie’s Hong Kong yesterday when it sold for an unprecedented $5.09 million, or $2.44 million per carat.


The heart-shaped fancy red diamond, which now holds the title of most expensive red diamond ever sold at auction, puts an exclamation point on an extraordinary month of auction record breakers — two red, two blue, two sold by Christie's and two by Sotheby's.

• On Monday of this week, we reported on a 9.75-carat blue diamond from the estate of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon that sold for an extraordinary $32.6 million at Sotheby’s New York. The fancy vivid blue stunner shattered two auction records, including the highest price ever paid for a blue diamond — and for a diamond of any color.

• In mid-November, Sotheby’s Geneva established two auction records — including the highest price ever paid for a ruby — with the sale of the 8.6-carat “Graff Ruby” for $8.6 million.

• Only a day earlier, the 392-carat “Blue Belle of Asia” sapphire set a world record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a blue sapphire when it fetched $17.3 million at Christie’s.

Yesterday's record-breaking red diamond was scooped up by a private Asian investor, according to Christie’s. The selling price of $5.09 million was slightly above the auction house's pre-sale high estimate of $4.92 million.

London luxury jeweler Moussaieff designed the ring in a flower motif with the heart-shaped red diamond as the center and six pear-shaped diamonds of approximately one carat in size representing the petals.

Interestingly, Moussaieff currently owns the 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red Diamond, the world’s largest known red diamond and one of only three faceted red diamonds five carats or larger — the Moussaieff Red, the 5.05-carat Kazanjian Red and the 5.03-carat De Young Red.

It is believed that red diamonds get their rich color from a molecular structure distortion that occurs as the jewel forms in the earth’s crust. By contrast, other colored diamonds get their color from trace elements in their chemical composition. For instance, boron yields a blue diamond while nitrogen results in a yellow one.


Another top lot at the Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong was a 10.1-carat pigeon’s blood red ruby and diamond brooch by Cartier. Selling for $8.4 million (more than double the pre-sale-estimate of $2.59 million to $3.88 million), the cushion-shaped ruby is the centerpiece of an openwork octagonal plaque set with square, rectangular and triangular-shaped diamonds.


Christie’s third headliner was an exceptional 3.39-carat oval-shaped fancy vivid blue diamond ring also designed by Moussaieff. This ring carried a pre-sale estimate of $4.59 million to $6.47 million, and yielded $5.8 million at auction.

The internally flawless blue diamond is surrounded by marquise and brilliant-cut pink diamonds in an 18-karat rose gold setting.

Images: Christie's

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

4,000-Year-Old Mummy Wearing Fine Jewelry Is Found Under Pharaoh Thutmosis III’s Temple in Egypt

A lavishly adorned female mummy, who archaeologists are affectionately calling “Lady of the Jewels,” was unearthed by Spanish archaeologists at the site of Pharaoh Thutmosis III’s Temple on the west bank of the river Nile near Luxor, Egypt.


The stylish woman lived 4,000 years ago during the time of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (2000 BC to 1700 BC) and was likely an aristocrat.

Although the mummy and sarcophagus were badly damaged, according to, the jewelry remained largely intact. Among the items she was wearing were a large, shell-shaped golden pendant weighing 20 grams, a gold-plated necklace inlaid with lapis lazuli, two twisted-wire golden bracelets and two silver anklets. The silver items are the only ones that showed deterioration after 4,000 years underground. The gold and gem items looked virtually new.


"She still wore the marvelous jewelry that was attached during the process of mummification," Thutmosis III Temple Project director Myriam Seco said in a statement. "These spectacular findings confirm that an elite necropolis is located under the mortuary temple of Thutmosis III. Wealthy and important individuals of the Middle Kingdom and their families were buried there."


According researchers at the Thutmosis III Temple Project, a collaboration between Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Seville, Spain, the woman was likely in her 30s when she was entombed.

Archaeologists expected that the tomb and its valuable contents would have been plundered by tomb robbers centuries ago, but this wooden sarcophagus remained sealed and untouched. It turns out that robbers couldn’t get to it because it had been crushed and buried under the massive stones of the tomb’s collapsed roof.

Thutmosis III lived from 1490 BC to 1436 BC and is sometimes referred to as the Napoleon of Ancient Egypt. He ruled for 40 years during a prosperous time of Egypt’s history. The excavation, restoration and conservation of his temple began in 2008 and is scheduled to end in early 2015.

Jewelry images: Twitter/Discovery Channel UK; Screen capture:

Monday, November 24, 2014

9.75-Carat Blue Diamond From 'Bunny' Mellon Estate Smashes Two Auction Records at Sotheby’s New York

A 9.75-carat blue diamond from the estate of Rachel “Bunny” Mellon sold for an extraordinary $32.6 million — or $3.3 million per carat — at Sotheby’s New York on Thursday, shattering two auction records.


The fancy vivid blue pear-shaped gem, which was purchased by a Hong Kong private collector and promptly named “The Zoe Diamond,” now holds the auction records for the highest price ever paid for a blue diamond, and the highest price-per-carat paid for ANY diamond.

Sotheby’s reported that seven suitors competed for the blue diamond in a bidding war that lasted 20 minutes. Ultimately, the selling price more than doubled the pre-sale high estimate of $15 million.

The record for the highest price ever paid for a blue diamond had been held since December 2008 by the 31-carat Wittelsbach Diamond, which was sold for $24.3 million at Christie’s London.

The price-per-carat record for any diamond had been held since November 2013 by an unnamed 14.82-carat fancy vivid orange diamond, which sold for $2.4 million per carat at Christie’s Geneva.

Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s Jewelry Department in New York, said that he knew from the moment he first saw the diamond that it would be one of the most important stones he would ever present at auction.

“Mrs. Mellon’s diamond absolutely deserves the place in the record books that it achieved tonight,” he said in a statement.

The stone, which received a VVS2 clarity grade from the Gemological Institute of America, was the most notable item from a much larger collection of jewels and valuables from Mellon's estate that were auctioned by Sotheby’s.

“Bunny” Mellon was the widow of philanthropist and horse breeder Paul Mellon, as well as the heiress to the Listerine fortune. She passed away in March of 2014 at the age of 103.

Image: Sotheby's