De Beers Cullinan Blue Stand Alone Hong Kong Auction – 27th April, 2022

Sotheby’s Hong Kong is presenting an extraordinary natural treasure and one of the most valuable blue diamonds ever to be offered at auction, the De Beers Cullinan Blue, at a standalone auction in Hong Kong, coming up on April 27, 2022 and bearing Lot No. 1800. Two days after this on April 29, 2022, a further 91 lots from Lot Nos. 1801 to 1892, will feature at the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Magnificent Jewels I, live auction starting at 15.00 Hrs HKT.

The De Beers Cullinan Blue lot-1800, magnificent and spectacular fancy vivid blue 15.10-carat diamond.
The De Beers Cullinan Blue lot-1800, magnificent and spectacular fancy vivid blue 15.10-carat diamond.

The De Beers Cullinan Blue, ia an extraordinary natural treasure and one of the most valuable blue diamonds ever to be offered at an auction. This extraordinary 15.10-carat step-cut blue diamond has been recently cut from an exceptional rough stone discovered at the Cullinan Mine in April 2021. It is the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever to appear at an auction and also the largest internally flawless step cut fancy vivid blue diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded.

Blue diamonds of this importance are exceptionally rare, with only five 10-carat+ examples ever having come to auction, none of which have exceeded 15 carats, making the appearance of this flawless gem a landmark event in itself. Given the global interest on a treasure of this nature, the diamond was showcased on a worldwide tour, starting with Sotheby’s galleries in New York, and then travelling to cities like London, Dubai, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzen and Taipei.

Another view of the De Beers Cullinan Blue
Another view of the De Beers Cullinan Blue

Commenting on the sale of this extraordinary diamond, Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said, “Blue diamonds of any kind are rare on the market, but this is the rarest of the rare; nothing of remotely similar calibre has appeared at auction in recent years. Hundreds of millions of years in the making, this extraordinary blue diamond is surely one of nature’s finest creations. Now brought to dazzling life by the hand of one of the world’s most skillful cutters, it is the ultimate masterpiece – as rare and desirable as the very greatest works of art. At a time of unprecedented demand for the finest, world-class, coloured diamonds, we are incredibly excited to bring to the market what is sure to become one of the most celebrated gems in the world.”

Wenhao Yu, Chairman of Jewellery and watches at Sotheby’s Asia, commenting on the rarity of the blue diamond, which ranks among the greatest wonders of the natural world, said, “The De Beers Blue stands as a proud masterpiece that has been gifted from nature with the hues of the sky and sea, perfected through a step-cut that is bold, distinctive and masterful. Among the rarest of stones in what is arguably the most desirable of colours – powerful and vivid, but at the same time calm and majestic – it must surely rank among the greatest wonders of the natural world. It is literally irresistible.”

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers Group, also commenting on this rare sale, said, “This diamond ranks as one of the best De Beers has ever seen. It is extremely rare and unique, and as the Home of Diamonds, De Beers is pleased to join together with Sotheby’s to bring this diamond to the world.”

The De Beers Cullinan Blue was discovered at the Cullinan Mine in South Africa in 2021, one of the very few sources remaining in the world for extremely rare blue diamonds, after the total depletion of the previous source at Golconda, in Southeastern India, the source of the legendary blue diamond known as the Hope Diamond.

While other colored diamonds can be found in mines around the world, most of the blue diamonds today are recovered from the Cullinan mine in South Africa, the same mine that produced the world’s largest gem-quality rough diamond ever found, the 3,106.75 carats Cullinan diamond, in 1905 from which subsequently the 530.4-carat the Great Star of Africa, the largest colorless faceted diamond in the world was produced, which is now mounted in the head of the Sovereign’s Sceptre. The enormous diamond also produced the Second Star of Africa, weighing 317.4 carats, mounted today in the Imperial State Crown. The Cullinan diamond mine continues to produce some of the world’s most extraordinary treasures including all of the De Beers Millennium blue diamonds, in particular the De Beers Millennium Jewel 4, a 10.10 carat oval-shaped Fancy Vivid blue that sold for US$31.8 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2016.

De Beers entrusted the cutting and polishing of the rough diamond to its partner Diacore, one of the most experienced master diamond cutters in the world, who worked on the extraordinary rough diamond for nearly an year, and transformed it into the masterpiece now known as the De Beers Cullinan Blue Diamond. Blue diamonds are among the rarest of all colored diamonds, the blue color being imparted by the presence of trace amounts of the rare element Boron, within the diamond’s crystal lattice.

In terms of Colour, Cut and Clarity, the De Beers Cullinan Blue has been awarded the highest rankings. It has been graded Fancy Vivid Blue by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) – the highest possible colour grading, awarded to no more than 1% of blue diamonds submitted to the GIA. It has also been awarded an exceptional clarity grade by GIA, which is Internally Flawless. In addition, the diamond has been found to have an excellent polish and symmetry and to be of Type IIb, an extremely rare category under which less than 0.5% of natural diamonds fall.

The classic step-cut, usually associated with white diamonds adds to the beauty and allure of the stone. In respect to the stones step-cut GIA states, “achieving a Fancy Vivid color grade in a step cut or emerald cut adds to the rarity, since most other fancy shapes intensify the body color more efficiently in the face-up position than step cuts. To achieve a Fancy Vivid grade with a step cut or emerald cut, the inherent body-color has to be stronger than virtually every other fancy shape.”

To cut a stone of this outstanding importance required a level of expertise and craftsmanship possessed by only a small handful of cutters, whose skills have been handed down through families for generations. The skill with which this step cut was achieved is testament to the impeccable “savoir-faire”of Diacore’s diamond cutter whose year-long application to the task can, in the words of Wenhao Yu, be likened to the “skill and dedication of the greatest sculptors of art history.”

SOME AUCTION MILESTONES FOR BLUE DIAMONDS

1) The Zoe Diamond

From the Mellon Collection

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Pear-shaped, 9.75 carats VVS2 Clarity

Sotheby’s New York, November 2014

Sold for US$32,645,000 (US$3,348,205 per carat)

2) The Blue Moon of Josephine

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Cushion-shaped, 12.03 carats, Internally Flawless

Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2015

Sold for US$48,468,158 (US$4,028,941 per carat)


3) The Millennium Blue

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Oval, 10.10 carats, Internally Flawless

Sotheby’s Hong Kong, April 2016

Sold for US$31,830,766 (US$3,151,561 per carat)

4) The Oppenheimer Blue

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Step-cut, 14.62 carats, VVS1 Clarity

Christie’s Geneva, May 2016

Sold for US$57,541,779 (US$3,935,826 per carat)

5) The Sky Blue Diamond

Fancy Vivid Blue diamond

Square-cut, 8.01 carats, VVS1

Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2016

Sold for US$17,074,168 (US$2,131,607 per carat)

6) The Memory of Autumn Leaves

Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond

Pear-Shaped, 14.54 carats, Internally Flawless

Sotheby’s Geneva, May 2017

Sold for US$42,087,302 (US$2,894,587 per carat)

Lot No. 1800 – A Magnificent and Spectacular Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond – 15.10 carats

Accompanied by GIA report no. 2223179803 stating that the diamond is Fancy Vivid Blue, Internally Flawless; also accompanied by a diamond type classification letter stating that the diamond is determined to be a Type IIb diamond. Type IIb diamonds are very rare in nature (…less than one half of one percent)…today the most significant source is limited to the Cullinan mine in South Africa…Among famous gem diamonds, the 70.21 carat Idol’s Eye and the 45.52 carat Hope are examples of Type IIb

Further accompanied by a separate monograph expressing the rarity and the characteristics of the stone, as well as a letter stating that ‘The 15.10 carat Fancy Vivid Blue diamond…is among the rarest of any category of gems…To achieve a Fancy Vivid grade with a step cut or emerald cut the inherent body-color has to be stronger than virtually every other fancy shape. This is the largest of this specific cutting style that is both Fancy vivid and Internally Flawless. The combination of this diamond size, saturated color and Internally Flawless clarity grade make it truly unique.

To celebrate this exquisite diamond being offered at auction, De Beers Jewellers has also created a unique crown ring for The De Beers Blue that will be gifted to the successful bidder.

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