A 110-carat yellow jewel called the Sun Drop Diamond, thought the biggest of its kind in the world, sold for a record $10.9 million at Sotheby’s auction in Geneva. Including commission the unidentified telephone bidder paid almost $12.4 million for the gem, putting it within the $11 million to $15 million range Sotheby’s had estimated before the sale.
Gemologists rate the 110.3 carat diamond as fancy vivid yellow – the highest possible colour grading. The colour in yellow diamonds is caused by nitrogen impurities trapped within carbon molecules and hardened over the course of millions of years. The gem was discovered in South Africa in 2010 and wowed visitors to London’s Natural History Museum where it was displayed earlier this year, and also in Hong Kong.
It’s a record for a yellow diamond at auction, said David Bennett, the head of Sotheby’s jewellery division. He said it was the eighth most expensive diamond sold at auction. After Sotheby’s sold a 24.78-carat fancy intense pink diamond for a record-breaking $46 million last year, some had expected the auction’s headline piece to finish higher.
When it gets to this price, there are only half a dozen people who can actually participate, said Mourad Hatik, a Geneva jewel trader. If they decide they already have a similar stone, then the price doesn’t go up.
The second priciest lot was a cushion-shaped white diamond weighing 38.88 carats which sold for $6.96 million, including the premium paid by the buyer. A 12.01-carat emerald from Colombia’s Muzo mine sold for $1.4 million and a blue diamond ring was snapped up for $4.3 million.
But several major jewels were stranded on the block including an elaborate gold and diamond peace dove brooch, a blue diamond ring estimated at over $7.5 million, and a suite of imperial jewels.