Christie's Sells 101-Carat Diamond at HK$48.5 Million

13 08 2010

May 28 (Bloomberg) — A 101-carat, near-flawless diamond sold for HK$48.5 million ($6.2 million) at a Christie’s International sale in Hong Kong, propelling the city past Geneva and New York as the auction house’s biggest jewelry market.

The diamond, the highlight of Christie’s jewelry sale, has the third-highest clarity rating of VVS1 and the third-best ranking on a scale used to measure colorlessness. The stone, the size of a quail’s egg, had a presale high estimate of $8 million. Christie’s sale of 258 gems, among 345 offered, fetched about $60 million, compared with $49 million from its New York auction and $56 million in Geneva, London-based Christie’s said.

“More than other regions, the Asian client is interested in the perfect stone,” said Francois Curiel, the company’s global head of jewelry, in an interview. “Gem size matters in America. Here, small and extremely good quality work.”

Asian collectors bought the 10 priciest lots at Christie’s auction today, paying record prices for some gems. A 16.04-carat, D diamond sold for HK$26 million, the most paid per-unit for such a colorless stone; a square 10.36-carat fancy green diamond sold for HK$27.2 million, a record for a diamond of this color. A pair of ear pendants that once belonged to the Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia set a per-carat record for emeralds, Christie’s said.

Blue Diamond

Christie’s rival Sotheby’s holds the per-carat diamond record with its sale in October of a flawless 6.04-carat blue diamond for HK$61.9 million. Last month, Sotheby’s sold a 72-carat flawless diamond privately in Hong Kong, hours after the gem failed to meet the reserve price at auction.

A carat is one-fifth of a gram.

“Jewelry, especially diamonds, is an international currency and easily transportable,” said Curiel. “You can bring a $6 million diamond to Paris, London, Geneva, Hong Kong; try doing the same with a $6 million house or painting.”

Curiel, 59, said Asian clients show a growing penchant for period jewelry and that will prompt Christie’s to bring more Art Deco and Art Nouveau pieces for sale in the region.

Today is the penultimate day of Christie’s six-day spring auction in Hong Kong that includes a total of 2,400 gems, paintings and collectibles. Christie’s estimated the auctions would tally HK$1.7 billion.

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