From a Hong Kong tycoon who paid a fortune for diamonds for his young daughters, to rumours of a cursed gem, coloured diamonds are as intriguing as they are beautiful.
Diamonds are not only a girl’s best friend, but they are also a luxury investor’s dream. While diamond prices overall have risen in recent years, coloured and high-quality stones have seen particularly impressive growth in the past decade.
A good number of notable gems have hit the headlines thanks to their record-shattering auction prices, including a few with close connections to Hong Kong.
Here, we take a look at a handful of the most famous coloured diamonds, their owners, and how much you would have shell out to buy them.
The most expensive jewel ever sold at auction at the time of sale in 2017, the Oppenheimer Blue sold for 56,837,000 Swiss francs, then equivalent to around US$58 million.
The diamond was named in honour of its previous owner, Sir Philip Oppenheimer, whose family controlled the De Beers Group. It is a beautiful emerald cut stone that weighs an impressive 14.62 carats. The stone also set the record as the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever sold at the time
The Pink Star
The Pink Star topped the Oppenheimer Blue’s record as the most expensive jewel auctioned when Hong Kong jeweller Chow Tai Fook acquired the gem for US$71.2 million in 2017.
The fancy vivid pink diamond was graded internally flawless by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and is a mixed oval brilliant cut.
Star of Josephine
When Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau dropped US$9.5 million for a diamond at auction in 2009, the world took notice. No stranger to raising his paddle for big-ticket items at auction, Lau had previously acquired several high quality coloured diamonds at auction, all gifts for his two daughters, Zoe and Josephine.
The US$9.5 million price tag might not seem that high in the world of fine gems, but the 7.03-carat fancy vivid blue diamond set the record for the highest price per carat of any gemstone at the time of its sale.
On acquiring the stone, he swiftly renamed it after his daughter Josephine, at the time seven years old. Young Josephine owns two other colossal diamonds: the US$48 million 12.03-carat blue diamond called the Blue Moon of Josephine and the 16.08-carat pink Sweet Josephine, which her father paid US$28.5 million for in 2015.
The Zoe Diamond
Named after Joseph Lau’s other daughter, Lau bought the Zoe Diamond for US$32 million in 2014 at a Sotheby’s auction. The GIA graded the 9.75-carat pear-shaped diamond a fancy vivid blue. Zoe is also the owner of the Zoe Red, a 10.10-carat, US$8.43 million Burmese ruby.
Moussaieff Red Diamond
The current record holder for the world’s largest fancy red diamond, the Moussaieff Red weighs a rather modest 5.11 carats. The triangular brilliant-cut stone was discovered in Brazil in the 1990s as part of a 13.9-carat rough.
The stone eventually found its way to London jeweller Shlomo Moussaieff, who reportedly acquired the gem for between US$7 million and US$8 million.
Arguably the single most famous diamond in the world, the Hope Diamond’s colourful history adds to its prestige and mystique. Not owned by any individuals, the stone is currently part of the Smithsonian permanent collection in Washington DC. The reason? Some say the diamond is cursed.
The stone dates back to the 1660s when it was discovered in India. Before making its way to American jeweller Harry Winston in 1949, the stone was sold to King Louis XIV in 1668 before it was stolen and resurfaced in London in 1839. The stone changed hands no fewer than 10 times, each time leaving its owner murdered, imprisoned, or ending their own lives.
Winston acquired the gem from American socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean, who had bought it from Pierre Cartier. The story goes that Cartier told her the stone’s cursed past and that was what sealed the deal for the curious and eccentric lady.
Harry Winston later donated the gem to the museum some say in fear of the Hope Diamond curse.
The blue 45.52-carat stone is estimated to be worth US$200 to US$350 million today.
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
Acquired and recut by London jeweller Graff, the 31.06-carat blue diamond is graded fancy deep blue by the GIA. When Laurence Graff bought the stone at US$23.4 million, it was the most anybody has ever paid for a diamond at auction.
Graff recut and held on to the stone until 2011 when it was reported that Hamad bin Khalifa, the former emir of Qatar, bought the gem for a reported US$80 million.
Adapted from: www.scmp.com by Gloria Fung, July 2020