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$57 million diamond sale breaks new records

May 19, 2016

The "Oppenheimer Blue" diamond has been sold for $57 million, smashing the previous record for the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction. With stock markets shaky, diamonds remain an investors's best friend.

Schweiz Diamant Oppenheimer Blue in Genf
Image: picture alliance/AA

Sold at Christie's auctioneers in Geneva, the 14.62-carat stone - the largest Vivid Blue diamond ever put up for auction - went to an unidentified buyer for a hammer price of 50.6 million Swiss francs ($57 million) - not including fees and the buyer's premium.

The rectangular-cut diamond is set in a ring and flanked by two smaller trapezoid-shaped diamonds. It gets its name from the late Sir Philip Oppenheimer, who ran De Beers mining and had given the stone to his wife.

"Oppenheimer had the pick of all diamonds over a 50-year period and this is what he picked out for his wife," according to Raymond Sancroft-Baker, Christie's director of European jewelry. "There's been several other blue diamonds which have been sold in the past, but nothing really quite of this quality," Sancroft-Baker said. He said the stone was "nearly perfect."

The 14.62-carat "Oppenheimer Blue" had a pre-sale estimate range was between 38 million and 45 million francs.

Longing for luxury

The previous record was for the 12.03-carat polished "Blue Moon of Josephine" diamond, which was sold for $48.5 million in Geneva in November to Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau.

The bidding for the "Oppenheimer Blue" - which was discovered in Botswana - was overseen by Nemesis International and lasted over 25 minutes. The starting bid was 30 million francs, Christie's spokeswoman Alexandra Kindermann said.

The global value of precious stones is rising fast, with some of the world's ultra-rich increasingly investing in hard assets as a safeguard against volatility in global equity markets.

jbh/rc (AP, AFP)