A stunning, internally flawless, vivid 17.61 carat blue diamond aptly titled ‘Bleu Royal’ sold at auction last week for more than $44 million to an anonymous buyer. The jewel, set between two colorless diamonds of significant size, was sold at Christie’s “Magnificent Jewels” event in Geneva on November 7 for a whopping $44,009,645.
Christie’s Geneva Luxury Week closed the books with a total of $140 million in sales and the Magnificent Jewels auction achieved over $77 million itself with bidders spanning 37 countries.
“First of all, colored diamonds represent about 10% of all diamonds, of which blue diamonds may represent 10%,” Max Fawcett, head of jewelry at Christie’s told Fox News Digital. “So rarity is a given.”
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The bidding lasted a fleeting seven minutes, and the ring was celebrated as the “most expensive piece of jewelry sold at auction in 2023” on Christie’s website.
“The diamond had been in a private collection for 40 years and came on the market this November,” Fawcett said. “For the first time, the public was able to see and admire this extraordinary stone.”
He added that the stone was invisible to buyers, “which enhanced its desirability to a global audience of jewelry appreciators and collectors.” The next day, the stone entered another private collection. Its collector and whereabouts remain secret.
Fawcett explained that “the diamond is internally flawless and of the finest color saturation.” Additionally, he said the stone was cut only once and no modifications were needed to enhance its color and vibrancy.
Other notable sales from the day included a rectangular modified brilliant, 8.77 carat fancy bright pink diamond that sold for US$5,172,429 and a 21.88 carat Burmese cushion ruby that sold for US$2,611,280.
Fawcett said the blue diamond, in particular, is “very rare” and “had all the right pedigree to be a star at auction”. He added that, “In Christie’s nearly 260 years of existence, the Bleu Royal at 17.61 carats is the largest blue diamond ever offered at auction worldwide.”
Christie’s is a British auction house with a presence in 46 countries around the world. The auction house holds regular online-only live auctions and private sales of high quality, private collections of art, jewelry and more.
Christie’s has been the auction house for many private and well-known jewelry collections for the current and past decades. In 2006, Academy Award-winning British-American actress Elizabeth Taylor announced that all future sales of her clothing, jewelry, artwork and more would be through Christie’s.
“Christie’s is a very respectable company,” Taylor said in a statement in September 2006. “I have enjoyed their integrity and commitment to excellence for many years.”
In 2011, the same year Taylor died, Christie’s held a live auction of her most valuable items and raised a whopping $115,932,000, breaking the record for a single owner’s jewelry collection. The sale included a diamond and emerald ring this was the first gift to the actress from his two-time husband and ex-husband, Richard Burton.
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Earlier this year, Christie’s held a controversial auction for Heidi Horten, an Austrian heiress whose jewelry collection, at presale, was estimated to be worth $150 million. The American Jewish Committee asked that the auction, of about 700 items, be delayed until a “serious effort is made to determine what portion of this wealth came from Nazi victims.”
Horten’s late German husband, Helmut Horten, began acquiring his fortune from Jews fleeing Nazi oppression. Christie’s openly noted to Reuters in May that it gained wealth in part by buying “Jewish businesses that were sold under duress.”
The auction house proceeded to the live event in two parts and won a record $202 million.
A “significant contribution” was made from auction sales to Jewish organizations to promote Holocaust education and research and other programs. Neither an amount nor a percentage has been disclosed, but Christie’s website says: “It will be up to these organizations, if they wish, to communicate about these donations.”
Further sales of Horten’s collections have been canceled by Christie’s, including the fall sale in Geneva that was scheduled for this month.