It was a long journey for the "Graff Vivid Yellow" diamond but it did eventually find an owner during Sotheby's Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction Tuesday.
It was the top lot of an auction packed with exceptional jewels that had to make two appearances before being sold for more than $16.3 million (hammer price, commission and fees), a world auction record for a yellow diamond and for a Graff diamond, according to the auction house.
David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's Jewellery Division in Europe and the Middle East, stunned the standing room crowd during the evening session of the auction at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage when he pulled the 100-carat diamond with an 11.8 million Swiss franc bid on the block. However, about 15 minutes later the stone suddenly reappeared and bidding reopened. The bidding began at 12.6 million Swiss francs, which was quickly raised to 12.8 million. Bennett then struck the gavel saying it was a good bid. The estimate for the diamond was $15 - $25 million.
After the auction, Bennett explained that the buyer, a women in the front of the room who did not want her identity revealed, asked to have the item returned. He added that something like this does happen occasionally but almost never with such a high-profile piece.
"The eventual buyer of the yellow diamond who was in the room got confused, I think, with her calculations of francs and dollars and came back a few minutes later and said could you re-offer it because we still wanted to buy. It was quite a nice thing to happen," a "happy and relieved," Bennett said.
He further explained that he knew who would be bidding on the piece as there are only a few people in the world capable of paying $15 million for a diamond. He added that the buyer appeared even happier than he was.
|Sotheby's Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco|
The drama overshadowed a three-session auction where at least seven records were set, according to the auction house. Highlights included:
* The highest total ever achieved for an auction of jewelry from various owners at more than $141.4 million.
* A 70.33-carat D-color, flawless cushion brilliant-cut, type IIa diamond sold for more than $14.2 million, followed by a round of applause.
A 12.07-carat marquise-shaped fancy pink diamond ring sold for more than $7.2 million, setting a world auction record for a price per carat for a pink diamond at $601,228 US per carat.
* One of the largest round diamonds in the world at 103.46 carats set on a ring by Graff sold for more than $4.8 million.
* A 25.32-carat brilliant-cut, D color, IF diamond sold for more than $6.2 million and $246,710 per carat, setting a world auction record price per carat for a round colorless diamond.
* The last lot of the evening, a ring set with two fancy blue pear-shaped diamonds, one fancy vivid weighing 3.08 carats the a fancy intense blue of 2.83 carats, sold for nearly $6.5 million.
* Jewels from the collection of Flora Sassoon totaled more than $3.3 million, led by a diamond necklace that sold for more than $1.2 million, well above its $700,000 high estimate.
* All 19 pieces from the collection of Madame Picha-Eisenstein sold for more than $1 million, more than double its estimate.
* A Van Cleef & Arpels gold and diamond necklace owned by Jaqueline Auriol sold for $276,203, 12 times is estimate.
There was competitive bidding throughout the evening between those in the room, phone bidders and a few Internet bidders.
One disappointment was that the 31.34-carat "Victory Diamond," named in honor of the Allied victory in World War II, did not sell. It had an estimate of $5 – $8 million.
Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website.