A 10.10-carat blue diamond, the largest of its kind ever to appear at auction, is expected to fetch up to £25 million at auction in Hong Kong next month
The De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 may not have the catchiest name in the history of record-breaking diamonds, but it certainly has an exciting back story. The 10.10-carat, oval, Internally Flawless, Fancy Vivid blue diamond was part of the Millennium Jewels collection, unveiled by De Beers in 2000 to commemorate the millennium, and displayed at London’s Millennium Dome. It, along with the 11 other rare stones in the collection (10 other blue diamonds and one 203.04-carat colourless diamond), was the target of an attempted multi-million pound robbery in November 2000, which was foiled by the Metropolitan Police. A gang of thieves had planned to ram-raid the exhibition and escape down the Thames in a speedboat, taking an estimated £350 million of diamonds with them. Thanks to a police tip-off, the gang was arrested as they attempted the raid and later received prison sentences.
The Millennium blue diamonds, which vary in size and cut but all originate from South Africa’s renowned Cullinan Mine, were later sold (De Beers still owns the Millennium Star, the collection’s 203.04-carat centrepiece) and only one of them has been auctioned on the open market since: a 5.16-carat pear-shaped blue diamond which sold for $6.4 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2010.
The Millennium Jewel 4, which is set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 5th, is the largest oval fancy vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction. While it is unlikely to surpass the 12.03-carat Blue Moon of Josephine blue diamond – which sold to billionaire Hong Kong businessman Joseph Lau for $48.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November, becoming the most expensive gemstone ever sold at auction in the process – the De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 carries an estimate of $30-35 million (£21-25 million). Its price tag is due to the combination of rarity and quality that saw the stone included in the prestigious Millennium collection in the first place.
“Blue diamonds of any intensity of colour are amongst the rarest of all gems. Highly saturated blue diamonds over 10 carats combined with an Internally Flawless clarity grade are extremely rare,” says Tom Moses, the GIA’s executive vice president and chief research and laboratory officer.
“Over the years Sotheby’s has had the honour to bring to the market many important coloured diamonds, including the Blue Moon of Josephine that set the world auction record for any diamond,” commented Quek Chin Yeow, Sotheby’s deputy chairman, Asia, and chairman of International Jewellery, Asia. “The market for coloured diamonds has gone from strength to strength and this spring we are thrilled to present the De Beers Millennium Jewel 4. Fifteen years ago I had the great opportunity of seeing this magnificent stone for the first time and it is an absolute delight now to have it in one’s hand, to admire it again and to offer it for auction in Asia. This beautiful blue stone combining nature’s rare beauty, superlative colour, unusual shape and illustrious provenance offers yet another wonderful collecting opportunity for connoisseurs worldwide.”
The stone was unveiled in London today and now embarks on a tour of Geneva, Singapore, Taipei and Hong Kong before being put under the hammer at the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale in April.