Sotheby’s decision to sell a 101.38 ct. pear-shape D color flawless diamond at a single-lot auction that allowed cryptocurrency was a weird, audacious gamble—that appears to have paid off.
On July 9, the diamond, which was given the techy name of the Key 10138, sold for $12.3 million to an anonymous private buyer who paid with cryptocurrency. The Hong Kong sale set a world auction record for any gem or jewelry purchased by digital coinage—which, it should be noted, is so far a pretty limited pool.
“We are thrilled to witness a historical moment, when one of the Earth’s oldest and rarest treasures was purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency,” said Wenhao Yu, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery in Asia, in a statement. “Today we saw active participation from collectors across the globe as well as interest from new clients well beyond the traditional pool of collectors. By introducing this innovative payment option to our luxury sale, we open up new possibilities and expand our reach into a whole new clientele, many of whom are from the digitally savvy generation.”
The Key 10138, cut by Diacore, is one of only 10 diamonds over 100 cts. to appear at auction. It is the second-largest pear-shape diamond that has ever been auctioned.
The hammer price fell in the middle of the gem’s original $10 million to $15 million estimate.
Sotheby’s noted that there has been strong demand for top-quality white diamonds at its auctions recently, with 80% of the white diamonds offered in Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auctions this year having found buyers. The auction house added that 30% of the buyers at its Luxury Edit sales this year have been new to Sotheby’s.
In June, a 50.03 ct. round diamond sold for $2.7 million at a no-reserve sale at Sotheby’s New York, setting a new record for a jewel sold at an online auction.
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