GENEVA: A dazzling blue diamond once owned by mining magnate Philip Oppenheimer could fetch a record sale price Wednesday, with auction house Christie’s hoping it tops the staggering $48.4 million mark set last year.
The 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” is the largest stone in the exceptionally-rare Fancy Vivid Blue category ever to go under the hammer, according to Christie’s, which has valued the gem between $38 million (34 million euros) and $45 million.
But experts said it has a chance to beat the record set by Sotheby’s in November with Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau’s purchase of the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon of Josephine”.
The Oppenheimer Blue “is highly likely to break the $50 million mark to become the most expensive polished diamond ever sold at auction,” said Tobias Kormind, managing director at 77diamonds.com
Sotheby’s fetched a record price in the Fancy Vivid Pink Category on Tuesday, when a private buyer in Asia scooped up a 15.38-carat stone for $31.6 million.
Ehud Laniado, president of Cora International which sold the stone dubbed “Unique Pink”, said he was “very happy with the sale price”, and voiced confidence that the gem’s value would rise over time.
“When you buy a Picasso, you pay a lot, but you know you are going to sell it for even more,” Laniado told AFP.
Sotheby’s also sold a blue diamond, weighing 7.32 carats, for $17.1 million.
A recent spate of eye-popping bids at Geneva’s semi-annual magnificent jewel auctions has highlighted the surging value of precious stones, with some of the world’s ultra-rich increasingly investing in hard assets as a safeguard against stock market volatility.