By David Brough
The world record price of U.S.$71 million achieved by the 59.60-carat Pink Star diamond at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong, was a bargain for the buyer, Chinese jeweller Chow Tai Fook.
The oval Pink Star smashed the record price for any diamond sold at auction following a brief bidding battle on April 4.
The justification for such a price is rarity and beauty. Fancy vivid pink diamonds of such weight and clarity are extraordinarily rare, leading some commentators before the auction to predict a price in excess of $100 million for the Pink Star, on which Sotheby’s placed a pre-sale estimate in excess of $60 million.
A deal for The Pink Star fell through at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva in 2013 after the buyer defaulted on a price of $83 million.
Sotheby’s agreed to share ownership of the piece last year in a partnership with New York-based manufacturers Diacore and Mellen Diamonds. The auction house’s annual report in February 2014 recorded the diamond’s inventory value as $72 million.
So a price tag of $71 million looks like a good value deal for Chow Tai Fook, who will surely now get lots of mileage and branding value by exhibiting the stone, before possibly selling it in a few years’ time to a fabulously wealthy collector, probably from Asia.
No one expects the jeweller to sell it on immediately. Chow Tai Fook has renamed the stone The CTF Pink.
“Buying a stone like this creates a new brand for yourself,” said Tobias Kormind, managing director of online diamond jeweller 77Diamonds.
The previous world record-holder for a diamond sold at auction was the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, which fetched $57.5 million at a Christie’s auction in Geneva last May.
It was no coincidence that the auction of the Pink Star was held in Hong Kong, rather than in Geneva, New York or London.
Asian buyers have figured prominently in purchases of magnificent rare diamonds in the past few years, such as Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau who bought the Blue Moon for a then world record price of $48 million in 2015.
The Pink Star’s failure this time to reach the price it commanded at the 2013 auction, may be due to a view that the stone was ‘burnt’ by its previous exposure, as some top tier collectors will only buy stones the first time they appear on the market.
Perhaps its colour was not strong enough to maximise its appeal to collectors. However, the extraordinary unique qualities of the Pink Star, now The CTF Pink, are not in any doubt: internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamonds of this size are extremely rare.
The diamond’s record price also pales in comparison to prices achieved at the top end of the art market in recent years.
Some commentators believe prices achieved for rare diamonds have the potential to close the gap with the art market, but others say the possibility of a future discovery of a significant mine will keep a lid on the top end of the diamond market.
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Images courtesy of Sotheby’s