by Greg Klein | May 18, 2016
The gemnomaniacal super-rich continue to smash sales records as Christie’s pulled in $58.25 million for “the largest vivid blue diamond ever to come to auction.” The 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue easily surpassed the $48.4-million Blue Moon of Josephine, declared by Sotheby’s in November to be “a new record price for any gemstone and per carat.” Christie’s also beat its own pre-sale expectations of $38.9 million to $46.1 million for the Oppie. With more than 280 lots on the block, the May 18 event totalled $150.11 million.
Although relieved of some bragging rights, Sotheby’s didn’t do too badly either. The previous day, and also in Geneva, Christie’s rival got $32 million for the 15.38-carat Unique Pink, setting a record for a stone of its type, which in turn helped set “a new world record for any jewelry sale” with total auction proceeds of $175.1 million.
But for all the extraordinary cut-and-polished prices of recent months, Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC surpassed everyone with a 812.77-carat rough that raised $63.11 million last week. The Botswana miner hopes to get something like $70 million for a 1,109-carat rough which Sotheby’s puts on the block next month.
Humungous prices don’t, however, reflect the diamond market in general. The industry faces “a fragile recovery” following last year’s price slump, De Beers chief executive Philippe Mellier told the Financial Times. He added that “the market is not going to bounce back” as it did following the 2008 financial crisis.
But “my view is we have seen the market bottoming,” the FT quoted him, as rough and polished inventory levels are now “very close to normal and polished prices stabilized around December.”