The biggest white diamond sold at auction will be auctioned on May 11 at Christie’s in Geneva. The presale estimate for the 228-carat pear-shaped diamond is estimated to be between £15.2 million and £22.9 million. The stone, which is roughly the size of a chicken egg, was mined in South Africa nearly 20 years ago but is just now being offered for sale to the general public.
“Right present, there is a lot of demand for diamonds in the market,” says Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s worldwide head of jewellery. The business also arranged for the gem’s first private sale to a collector, who has kept it for two decades. “Given the state of the market—both the art and jewellery markets had massive resurgences in 2021—the second owner contacted us and said, ‘How would you feel about promoting this for us at public auction?
Unsurprisingly, Kadakia was unfazed by the prospect of selling a world-record-breaking diamond. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” he adds. “If you come up to me after the sale and say, ‘Can you locate me another 230-carat diamond?’ I can’t.”
Should the stone sell for its high estimate, it will become one of the world’s most valuable white diamonds. Despite this, Kadakia claims that the gem’s comparably low price per carat—just under £67,240—makes it an appealing investment. “It appeals to collectors from all walks of life,” he adds, “from pure investors who simply want to purchase a huge portable asset and put it away to someone who wants to buy it to enjoy it as a set piece of jewellery while also putting their money into something extremely portable.”
Christie’s is keen to compare the stone’s estimated value to white diamonds it has previously sold, such as a 102-carat stone that sold for £19.8 million in 2013 and a £25.7 million emerald and diamond de Grisogono necklace with a 163-carat centrepiece that sold in 2017. The earlier diamond was valued at roughly £200,000 per carat.
The colour of each of those diamonds was “D,” indicating that they were really colourless; this 228-carat diamond, on the other hand, is rated G, indicating that it is “near colourless,” three levels below the Gemological Institute of America’s colour scale.
Kadakia recognises that the grade influences the price but believes it should have no bearing on its appeal. He explains, “With diamonds, it’s the four Cs: cut, colour, clarity, and carat weight.” “And that, in turn, dictates the price of three-, five-, ten-, fifty-carat stones, maybe even the 163-carat stone we sold in 2017.”
“You have a stone weighing approximately 230 carats,” he claims. Is there a price per carat, or are you seeing it differently, as if it were a piece of art?” He encourages individuals to hold the stone in their palms. “It seems like a hundred million dollars.”
Diamond prices keep rising
In recent months, diamond prices have skyrocketed. De Beers increased prices by about 10% at its January auction, with cheaper diamonds climbing as much as 20%.
Kadakia expects a lot of attention from the Middle East. Therefore the diamond’s international tour will start in Dubai. Next, the stone will go to Taipei and New York before being auctioned in Switzerland.
If consumers desire to wear the stone in public, Kadakia suggests that “a necklace would be the most logical vehicle” for the stone. “I can assure you that this is not going on a ring.”
“I have seen people wear rings up to 100 carats,” he says, reflecting, “so nothing is feasible in our world.”
“CHRISTIE’S PRESENTS THE LARGEST WHITE DIAMOND EVER TO APPEAR AT AUCTION THE ROCK.” Christie’s, www.christies.com, 25 Mar. 2022, https://www.christies.com/about-us/press-archive/details?PressReleaseID=10422.