Diamonds / Industry

De Beers Blue Sells for $57.5 Million at Sotheby’s


On April 27, Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold the De Beers Blue—a 15.1 ct. step-cut internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond, the largest of its kind ever to appear at auction—for 451 million Hong Kong dollars, or approximately $57.5 million.

The diamond, originally billed as the De Beers Cullinan Blue, was predicted to fetch “in excess of $45 million” when the sale was first announced. De Beers dropped the “Cullinan” from the diamond’s name in order to consolidate the branding, says Sotheby senior press manager Nancy Wong.

The diamond sparked an eight-minute bidding war, with four bidders vying for it. The winner was an anonymous client represented by Wenhao Yu, chairman of jewelry and watches at Sotheby’s Asia, on the telephone.

“We won’t be finding another [diamond like this] for a long time, I’m sure,” said auctioneer Ian McGinlay in an online video of the bidding.

De Beers Blue
The De Beers Blue

The result is among the highest price ever achieved for a diamond on the open market. It basically ties the amount achieved by the 14.62 ct. Oppenheimer Blue, which sold for $57.5 million in 2016. The all-time record holder remains the 59 ct. fancy vivid internally flawless Pink Star, which fetched $71.2 million in April 2017.

The De Beers Blue was cut from a 39.34 ct. type IIb blue gemstone, which was discovered in April 2021 at the Cullinan mine in South Africa. The 119-year-old mine was originally owned by De Beers, but the company sold the mine to Petra Diamonds in 2007.

De Beers and 50-50 partner Diacore bought the rough stone for $40.2 million. That was the highest price Petra had ever received for a single stone.

Blue diamonds are considered exceptionally rare, with only five blues over 10 cts. having come to auction. The De Beers Blue is the first blue diamond over 15 cts. to be sold at auction.

Top: Auctioner Ian McGinlay selling for the diamond (photo courtesy of Sotheby’s)

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By: Rob Bates

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