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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

‘Oppenheimer Blue’ Diamond Sells For $57.5 Million, Sets World Auction Record

It took only six months for a second blue diamond to sell for a world auction record. And it wasn't even close.

The 14.62-carat “Oppenheimer Blue” sold for more than $57.5 million (including commission and fees), smashing the previous record for the 12.03-carat “Blue Moon of Josephine,” which sold in November 2015 for $48.4 million. The auction house originally listed the price, converted from Swiss francs to U.S. dollars, as $58.2 million.

Its hammer price (not including commission and fees) was approximately $51.3 million.

The rectangular-shaped gem, the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction, had a high estimate of $46.1 million. It was the lead item at Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels sale Wednesday, which is still ongoing.

Bidding for the gem, led by Rahul Kadakia, Christie's international head of jewelry, started at 30 million Swiss francs and went agonizingly slow (approximately 30 minutes), with long silent pauses, nervous laughter, incremental bidding at 200,000 Swiss francs and applause after each million-franc milestone, as viewed through the auction house live stream.

Kadakia was happy to accept all bids no matter how small saying, “once in a lifetime we have a stone like this we have to take all bids.”

The bidders eventually dwindled down to two phone buyers who traded bids for about 10 minutes before Kadakia ended it. 

The diamond is set in a platinum ring flanked on either side by a trapeze-shaped diamond. Its VVS1 clarity grade is one step below Internally Flawless. The diamond was originally set in a "Five Blades" mounting by Verdura

A photograph of the Oppenheimer Blue in its original Verdura “Eight Blades” mounting. Photo courtesy of Verdura

The diamond was previously owned by Sir Philip Oppenheimer, a member of the family that once controlled the De Beers Mining Company. He is credited with serving for 45 years as chairman of the Central Selling Organization, the sales cartel set up by De Beers to keep strict control over the diamond supply worldwide. Today he is remembered as the architect of creating stability in the international diamond chain and for his incomparable gem collection, which includes the Oppenheimer Blue.

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