The "Graff Vivid Yellow", star lot at Sotheby's on May 13, is
a yellow diamond weighing 100.09 carats that was cut by the
London-based top jeweler Laurence Graff.
"Once it gets to 100 carats it's into the realm of extreme
rarity," David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewelry department
for Europe and the Middle East, told Reuters.
"It is this extraordinary deep daffodil yellow. It is a charming
stone, full of life, full of color," he said in an interview in
the showroom where the jewels were displayed.
Sotheby's estimates that the yellow cushion-shaped diamond,
whose owner is not being identified, will fetch $15-$25 million.
A white round diamond of 103.46 carats, also cut by Graff and
described by Sotheby's as one of the largest brilliant-cut
diamonds in the world, is also going on the block with an
estimate of $3.5-$5 million.
"It has the wow factor," Bennett said of the stone mounted on a
ring, which has toured the world to attract bidders.
A smaller but stunning 31.34-carat white diamond, "The Victory
Diamond" which belonged to Florence Gould, daughter-in-law of
the American railroad magnate Jay Gould, is estimated at $5-$8
"She was one of the three or four greatest jewel collectors of
the 20th century, alongside people like the Duchess of Windsor
and Daisy Fellowes," Bennett said, recalling the high-society
ladies who frequented the French Riviera in the 1930s.
"She apparently wore it quite a lot, including one imagines on
this rather famous trip in Cambodia when she went into the
jungle bedecked with jewelry, which is a wonderful story."
Sotheby's disclosed in February that it had acquired the "Pink
Star" diamond, which had fetched a world-record price of 76.3
million Swiss francs (then $83 million) in November, after its
buyer failed to pay up.
"ALMOST A DREAM"
A blue diamond of 13.22 carats, described as the largest
flawless fancy vivid blue diamond in the world, is the star lot
at arch-rival Christie's sale on May 14. The auction house is
privately owned by French entrepreneur Francois Pinault.
The pear-shaped stone is estimated at $21-$25 million. "We are
quite confident that it should sell towards the high end of the
estimate or above," said Jean-Marc Lunel, senior international
specialist of Christie's jewelry department.
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"It is absolutely perfect, absolutely pure externally and
internally. It is almost a dream," he told Reuters.
In the past decade, only three blue diamonds of 10 carats or more
with the same vivid grading for intensity have been sold at auction,
all weighing less than 12 carats and none flawless, he said.
"It is most probably from a mine in South Africa known as Premier
mine and now as Cullinan, where most of the blue diamonds are from.
Probably in the last 30 years," Lunel said.
Based on results from sales in Hong Kong and New York this year, the
jewelry market is quite strong, Lunel said.
"The market for colored diamonds is really, really high, because
they are so rare," he said.
"For what is really exceptional, not seen on the market, there are
really clients looking for such investments," Lunel added. "Chinese
clients are not only buying in Asia but in New York and Geneva as
Eric Valdieu, a Geneva-based jewelry dealer formerly of Christie's,
says both major houses had good rates of more than 80 percent of
lots sold at Hong Kong and New York auctions.
"It is a sign that the market is resisting and still strong,"
Valdieu said. "The better the quality, the quicker the sale in trade
and at auction. That is even more true when things are a bit more
difficult economically, like at the moment."
Asian clients are most keen for new stones with top gradings from
the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
"Now with Asia looking for diamonds which have exceptional cut,
polish and symmetry, all stones are being cut by computers to get
the GIA's triple-X rating," Valdieu said.
"All diamonds between one carat and 30 carats are being cut now to
get that grade of triple X because Asian clients require such
perfection. But perfection doesn't exist in nature and is not always
synonymous with beauty."
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Michael Roddy and Andrew
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