The largest Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ever offered at auction will go on the block on May 18 at Christie’s in Geneva, and it could be a record breaker. When the hammer falls on the 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” diamond, it will be the grand finale of a blockbuster auction season headlined by several world-class natural blue diamonds – more than any season in recent memory.
The Oppenheimer Blue Diamond
Named for its former owner, famed diamond dealer Sir Philip Oppenheimer, the Oppenheimer Blue Diamond is graded Fancy Vivid Blue by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Fancy Vivid is the highest color saturation grade given to a blue diamond, and color saturation is the value that contributes most to the overall value of any Fancy Color Diamond.
Christie’s has estimated the Oppenheimer Blue at $38 million to $45 million, but many Fancy Color Diamond experts expect it could easily break the world record of $48.4 million for the highest price ever paid for any diamond at auction.
The Current Record Holder
Last November, Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau paid $48.4 million, or just over $4 million per carat, for a 12.03-carat Fancy Blue diamond at Sotheby’s Geneva. Almost unbelievably, the night before, he paid $28.5 million for a 16.08-carat Pink diamond at Christie’s; both jewels, totaling $77 million, were reportedly purchased for his 7-year-old daughter, Josephine!
Important diamonds at auction often come with naming rights: Lau promptly renamed the current record holder “The Blue Moon of Josephine.”
The Year of the Blue Diamond: DeBeers and Shirley
Temple Blue Diamonds
The upcoming auction of the Oppenheimer Blue will follow on the heels of two other newsworthy blue diamond sales. On April 5, at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, a 10.10-carat blue diamond fetched $31.8 million. Dubbed the “De Beers Millennium Jewel 4,” it was showcased in a 2000 exhibit at London’s Millennium Dome. It is the largest oval-shaped Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ever to come to auction.
On April 19, a 9.54-carat Fancy Deep Blue diamond ring, once owned by the child star Shirley Temple, will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. It is estimated between $25 and $35 million.
Because the “Shirley Temple Blue Diamond” has such an interesting provenance (unique history or heritage), it has prompted enormous interest among international collectors, investors and connoisseurs.
It seems the diamond world is obsessed with blue diamonds!
We’ll keep you posted on all the auction action.
What Makes the Oppenheimer Blue Diamond a Superstar?
The Oppenheimer Blue diamond has the potential to break all existing auction records for three reasons. First, there’s the diamond’s size: It is more than a carat larger than the previous record. Second, it is beyond rare: Less than .0001 percent of all diamonds mined are blue, according to Christie’s and the GIA. Third, one must factor in its provenance: Sir Philip Oppenheimer founded the London-based Central Selling Organization, the DeBeers-backed diamond cartel that maintained global prices for more than half a century.
Sources: GIA.edu; Bloomberg.com; Christies.com; Sothebys.com