White diamond sells at Sotheby's Hong Kong for record US$30.6 million

Bids for The Premier Blue fail to make grade, but 118.28-carat stone nets record US$30.6m

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

A rare blue diamond believed to be the largest of its type ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America failed to sparkle at a Sotheby's Hong Kong auction.

Dubbed "The Premier Blue", the rare 7.59-carat round, brilliant-cut, vivid blue diamond remained unsold at the Wan Chai sale last night.

The bids put in by jewellery lovers failed to reach the pre-sale estimate of US$19 million, the auction house said.

The highest bid for the stone was US$16.12 million.

What stole the limelight instead was an unmounted, oval, brilliant-cut diamond weighing 118.28 carats. It sold for US$30.6 million - a world record for any white diamond to go under the hammer, beating the pre-sale estimate of US$28 million.

Video: Diamond fetches record $30.6 million at HKG auction

It is also the biggest diamond ever sold at auction.

The successful buyer was a phone bidder, Sotheby's said.

The auction firm described last night's sale as having concluded "with stunning results".

A spokesman said: "We are pleased with the response. The venue was packed with interested bidders."

All eyes had been on the blue diamond before the event. Blue diamonds are greatly admired and eagerly sought after by collectors and gem connoisseurs.

The blue colour is caused by the presence of extremely minute quantities of the element boron. Only a few blue diamonds have an even and saturated pure blue hue, and The Premier Blue diamond is one such rare gem. The lot was a top item on offer at Sotheby's "Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite" autumn sale held at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, one of a series of auctions that is marking the company's 40th anniversary in Asia.

More than 300 items of fine and highly sought-after jewellery and jadeite went on offer, fetching a total of US$95.4 million, the highest ever for a jewellery sale in Asia, the auction house said.

Sotheby's achieved the record sales despite failing to sell 84 of the lots.

Today, the auction house will put more than 400 pieces of Chinese ceramics and artworks, with pre-sale estimates totalling more than US$96 million, up for sale.

One of the highlights is the Cunliffe Musk-Mallow Palace Bowl from the Chenghua period (AD1465 to AD1487) of the Ming dynasty. It is expected to fetch more than US$10 million.