07 Aug

Christie’s François Curiel on the Market for Colored Diamonds and Other Precious Stones

In May, the Oppenheimer Blue diamond, the largest fancy vivid blue diamond to come to auction, brought $57.5 million at Christie’s in Geneva, exceeding its estimate of $38.9 million to $46.1 million by a wide margin. In doing so, the 14.62-carat rectangular-cut diamond set a record for a jewel at auction, trumping the 12.03-carat fancy vivid blue Blue Moon diamond that sold for $48.5 million (more than $4 million per carat) at Sotheby’s in Geneva last November.

A couple of weeks later, a rare 5.03-carat green diamond, set in a ring surrounded by pink diamonds, fetched $16.8 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong, purchased by Hong Kong jewelry chain Chow Tai Fook, which paid a record price per carat for a green diamond, $3.3 million. Then on June 9, at Christie’s New York, the top lot was a 24.18-carat rectangular, mixed-cut, fancy intense blue diamond, dubbed the Cullinan Dream, which sold for $25.4 million (est: $23‑29 million), while a 51.06-carat square brilliant-cut fancy intense yellow diamond sold for $1.6 million (est: $1.3‑1.8 million).

BluinArtInfo talked with François Curiel, both chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific and China and a jewelry specialist by profession, about the state of the market for colored diamonds and precious stones.

How is the market for colored diamonds?

Colored diamonds seem to be the name of the game. While colorless diamonds will sell for $200,000‑300,000 per carat, when it comes to colored diamonds, whether, red, green, blue, or pink, we’re talking millions. $3 million a carat for blue diamonds and $2.5‑3 million a carat for green diamonds seems to be the norm.

How does that compare with three years ago, for blue diamonds for example?

It is about 30 percent more.

Is there a certain colored diamond that has appreciated the most?

Green diamonds are in great demand at the moment because there are very few of those in the market, but pink and blue have also appreciated. It’s because there are very few of these stones in the market.

Are Asian collectors appreciating those more?

We had a 5-carat green diamond ready for sale in February or March and where did we send it for sale? Hong Kong. We may never know, however, if Hong Kong is the best place to sell because the buyer would have come to New York or Geneva if we had sold it there since the market is so global now.

Besides diamonds, which other colored stones are performing well?

Rubies, when they are from Burma and unheated, normally sell for $1 million per carat. Emeralds are doing well, but they are not in the same league, being more in the range of $200,000‑300,000 per carat. This is because there were some issues a few years ago with emeralds coming from Colombia that were being treated — that is over with, but the market is still recovering. Sapphires are also in great demand, particularly Kashmir sapphires, which would be in the range of $150,000‑250,000 per carat.

How much has the market for these precious stones increased over the last three years?

I would stay it has been a average of between five to 10 percent per annum, certainly not at the fast rate of colored diamonds.


Source: Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop for BlouinArtInfo
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