The De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 blue diamond sold for HK$248.3 million (AU$42.6 m) during the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite sale in Hong Kong.
While this was at the lower end of initial price estimates – the 10.1-carat fancy vivid blue diamond was expected to fetch between HK$235 million (AU$40.3 m) and HK$280 million (AU$48 m) – it was said to be the highest price paid for a “jewel” at an Asian auction.
This record was previously held by a 118.28-carat oval-shaped D flawless diamond, which sold at a Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale in October 2013 for HK$238.7 million (AU$42 m).According to Sotheby’s, the De Beers Millennium Jewel 4 was the largest oval fancy vivid blue diamond to appear at auction – but the stone made headlines well before its recent sale.
The diamond is part of the 12-piece De Beers Millennium Jewels collection, which became the target of a major UK robbery attempt after its release in 2000.
The collection was to be displayed at London’s Millennium Dome diamond exhibition in November of that year, and a gang of thieves had reportedly planned to ram-raid the exhibition, steal the diamonds and escape via speedboat down the Thames River.
However, the heist never eventuated. It was said that London police had several gang members under surveillance and foiled their elaborate plan.
In related news, a 14.62-carat fancy vivid blue diamond believed to be the largest to go under the hammer will be offered at an upcoming Christie’s sale in Geneva.
The Oppenheimer Blue was previously owned by the late Sir Philip Oppenheimer, a member of the South African family that held a significant stake in De Beers Group until 2011.
Commenting on the stone, Gemological Institute of America (GIA) executive vice president Tom Moses said, “This blue diamond’s colour and clarity combined with its traditional cutting style and provenance is truly exceptional.”
The Oppenheimer Blue is expected to fetch between US$38 million (AU$50.4 m) and US$45 million (AU$60 m) when it is auctioned at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale on 18 May.
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