Prized by kings and queens for centuries and across civilisations, coveted by tycoons and moguls of the 20th century, exceptional large diamonds have become the ultimate collectibles for modern day connoisseurs. This spring, a spectacular 88.22-carat, D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa, oval brilliant diamond, perfect according to every critical criterion, will lead Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite on 2 April 2019 (est. HK$88 - 100 million / US$11.2 - 12.7 million). This is one of only three oval diamonds of over 50 carats to appear at auction in living memory, and the largest to be auctioned in over five years**.
Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said: “When you think that one ton of mined earth yields less than a carat of diamond, and that high quality diamonds over 10 carats are a rarity, the discovery of a 242-carat rough, of gem quality and exceptional size, is nothing short of a miracle. The perfect 88.22-carat diamond is a summary of everything: a wonder of nature, a masterpiece resulting from man’s ability to shape the hardest material on earth into an object of ultimate beauty and the most concentrated form of wealth, as stated by Pliny the Elder almost 2000 years ago. Sotheby’s Hong Kong has had the privilege to bring to the market some of the most important colourless diamonds in the past decade and we look forward to presenting this treasure to the world.”
Describing the stone, David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman, International Jewellery Division, said: “For those who have had the chance to see the diamond, one adjective comes back: “breathtaking”. Barely any diamonds of this weight are known to possess the same exceptional qualities of purity and perfection as this remarkable stone which is so full of fire and blinding brilliance.”
A Perfect Stone
Perfect according to every critical criterion, the diamond has achieved the highest rankings under each of the standards by which the quality of a stone is judged (‘the four Cs’). The diamond is D colour (the highest grade for a white diamond); of exceptional clarity (it is completely flawless, both internally and externally), and has excellent polish and symmetry. As with the Koh-i-noor diamond (also oval) and the Cullinan I, which are part of the British Crown Jewels, the stone belongs to the rare subgroup comprising less than 2% of all gem diamonds, known as Type IIa*. Diamonds in this group are the most chemically pure type of diamond and often have exceptional optical transparency. 3 A
Masterpiece of Nature, brought to Life by Human Hand
Finding a rough diamond that allows the cutter to fashion a stone of over 80 carats is a true and very rare discovery. The 242-carat rough stone which yielded the diamond was discovered in Botswana in the mine of Jwaneng, a mine owned in partnership by De Beers and the government of Botswana and known for producing roughs of the highest quality. Following its discovery, the rough was cut and polished over a period of intense months to produce a symmetrical and striking oval brilliant diamond. Given the elongated shape of the rough the oval shape was chosen to preserve the greatest amount of weight. Great skill and precision was needed to cut a stone of this importance - a level of expertise and craftsmanship possessed by only a small handful of cutters in the world.
88 – A Lucky Number
A symbol of perfection and eternity, often associated with prosperity, the number eight is considered a lucky number in China and other Asian cultures. The Chinese pronunciation of 8 (bā), similar to that of 發 (fā) meaning wealth or fortune, is welcomed as a blessing of affluence. In its duality - 88 – it is believed to bring good wishes in abundance. There is also a visual resemblance between 88 and 囍 (literally: "double joy"), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 ("joy").
The Market for Exceptional Large White diamonds
Sotheby’s has been at the forefront of selling notable white diamonds of impressive size and superb quality (see list below). The appearance of the 88.22-carat diamond follows a series of landmark sales for ultra-rare white diamonds last year. In April 2018, a private collector acquired - through Sotheby’s Diamonds, a retail boutique specialising in the world’s finest diamonds - an extraordinarily rare 102.34-carat white diamond - the only known round brilliant diamond over 100 carats to have achieved perfection by all critical criteria: colour, clarity, cut & carat. A month later, in a Geneva auction, two highly impressive white diamonds, also D Colour Flawless and Type IIa - a 51.71-carat round diamond and a 50.39-carat oval diamond - sold above their high estimate for US$9.3 million and US$8.1 million respectively.