Giant Gems Sold at Auction
Stunning, staggeringly expensive and intensely beautiful, here’s the Suttons and Robertsons’ guide to the most expensive pieces of jewellery ever sold at auction, in reverse order.
9. The Winston Blue
In 2014, the Winston Blue was bought from an anonymous seller by Harry Winston Inc. for a staggering $23.8 million at Christie’s Geneva. At 13.22 carats, the Winston Blue commanded over $1.8 million per carat and is a flawless fancy vivid blue stone. Named ‘The Blue’ for the auction, the CEO of Harry Winston Inc., Nayla Hayek, renamed the diamond, ‘The Winston Blue’. This stone holds the world record for a blue diamond.
8. Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace by Cartier
While none of these pieces could be called plain, the Hutton-Mdivani Jadeite Necklace by Cartier
Is remarkable in its simplicity. Fetching $27.4 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2014, the necklace was purchased by Cartier after 18 minutes of bidding. Going for more than double its $12.8 million estimate, this sale set the record for jadeite. Comprising 27 graduated jadeite “highly translucent bright emerald green color” beads, the necklace is closed with a clasp beset with calibre-cut rubies and baguette diamonds, set in platinum and 18k yellow gold. The necklace had been owned by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton (1912 – 1979), created and given to her by her father, Frank Woolworth, as a wedding present upon her first marriage, in 1933, to Prince Alexis Mdivani.
7. The Orange Diamond
2013 saw the sale of the largest ever orange diamond at auction for $36 million. Sold at Christie’s Geneva, the Orange Diamond, with VS1 clarity, fetched the record price of just under $2.4million per carat – a world record per carat for any coloured diamond at auction before the Blue Moon Of Josephine was sold the following year. Orange stones – and yellow diamonds – take their colouring from nitrogen, which is present in these coloured stones.
6. Marie-Antoinette Pear Pearl
Named after its owner, the Marie-Antoinette Pear Pearl is set with a diamond pendant. Saved from the ravaging hoards during the French Revolution, Marie-Antoinette managed to smuggle this piece back to her family in Austria. Tested and proven to be a natural saltwater pearl, the pearl fetched $36 million at Sotheby’s in Geneva in 2018 having been brought to auction by the noble Italian house, Bourbon-Parma.
5. Pink Emerald-Cut Graff Diamond
Graded as ‘Fancy Intense Pink’ by the Gemological Institute of America, this stunning 24.78 carat emerald cut pink diamond was purchased by Graff at auction in 2010 for $46 million. The stone has been set, by Graff, in a ring that features shield-shaped diamond shoulders.
4. Blue Moon of Josephine
Uncovered in 2014 in the diamond mines of South Africa, the Blue Moon of Josephine is the largest fancy-vivid classified stone to appear at auction. Fetching $48.4 million in 2014, this cushion-shaped blue stone was bought by Hong Kong billionaire and convicted fugitive, Joseph Lau Luen-hung. The Blue Moon of Josephine was the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction and the world’s most expensive diamond of any colour, until the Oppenheimer Blue came along…
3. The Oppenheimer Blue
The Oppenheimer Blue is Christie’s in Geneva’s most expensive ever jewel ever sold. Trouncing the record held by the Blue Star of Josephine, the stone is named after the Oppenheimer Family who owned the diamond in the late 1900s. Fetching over $57 million, the vivid blue diamond is the largest of its kind ever sold at auction – a massive 14.62 carats.
2. The Pink Star Diamond
Have you ever wondered what happens when a winning bid doesn’t quite work out? The Pink Star diamond weighs in at almost 60 carats and was mined by De Beers in 1999, from a rough stone of 132.5 carats. Cutting the stone took over a year and a half and the stone was exhibited at both the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and London’s Natural History Museum. It is one of the rarest jewels ever discovered.
Auctioned in 2013, the Pink Star was bought by New York diamond cutter, Isaac Wolf, for a group of investors, for $83m. When the group defaulted on the payment, the Pink Star was returned to the auction house. Re-auctioned in 2017, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, Hong Kong-based conglomerate, secured the diamond for over $71m and the chairman of the company renamed the stone ‘CTF Pink Star’.
1. Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
With a rich and varied history, the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond fetched over $80 million when it was purchased in 2011 by a member of the Qatari Royal Family. Discovered in the 1600s, in an Indian mine, Nawabs of Punjab was the diamond’s original owner. This diamond is also believed to have been owned by King Philip IV of Spain and to have formed part of the dowry of his daughter, Margarita Teresa, upon her engagement to Emperor Leopold I of Austria in 1664.
London’s Luxury Jewellers & Pawnbrokers
As London pawnbrokers since 1770, we’ve had over 250 years of offering loan and purchase valuations on some fabulous pieces of diamond jewellery, from producers like Cartier and Tiffany. We’ve been honoured to handle outstanding gemstones and rare pieces that are verging on priceless (we’ll always find a price). It’s our experience that means we can let our clients receive up to £2m in 24 hours. We also have a stunning range of pre-owned jewellery, shop our collection online now.