It is very rare to head a perfect 88.22 carat oval diamond to hit the market. In fact, the occurrence of this is rarer than the stone itself. This magnificent diamond is one of only three ovals diamonds larger than 50 carats to be auctioned in living memory!
Taking place on 2 April 2019, during the Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite, the stone is, for obvious reasons, the leading lot of the sale. The significance of this sale cannot be overstated. The last Oval Diamond larger than 50 carats, that went on auction, just made the grade at 50.39 carats. Sold by Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2018 the stone sold for just over US$8.1 million. That translates to US$161 219 per carat. The only other large diamond to qualify was sold in October 2013 by Sotheby’s Hong Kong. This enormous diamond came in a staggering 118.28 carats. It fetched a total selling price of US$30.8 million. This translated into US$260 252 per carat! Setting the world record price per carat for a white diamond.
What Makes the 88.22 carat oval diamond so special?
Since the dawn of time diamonds have been admired, collected and fought over by Kings, Emperors, collectors and connoisseurs. Our fascination with them has sparked legends and myths as well as epic adventures and even solidified love stories. But consensus across race, religion, demographics and even wealth statuses have been reached: bigger is always better.
As many would know, an enormous amount of weight is lost on a diamond when it is being cut from “rough”. So, in order to find a stone large enough to yield over 80 carats is exceptionally rare. The story of this fabulous diamond started in the mine of Jwaneg in Botswana. This mine, owned in partnership between the De Beers group and the government of Botswana, has a reputation of yielding some of the roughs of the highest quality in the world.
Still, in its natural form, the diamond weighed in at 242 carats. In order to produce a perfectly symmetrical and striking brilliant diamond, the stone was cut and polished over a period of months. Because of the elongated shape of the rough diamond, an over was chosen as its final form. This shape would help to capture as much light when it was done cutting to ensure a brilliant shine. It would also ensure that the greatest amount of weight (carats) would be kept. An impressive amount of precision work and skill was needed on this cut as a single mistake or slip would spell disaster. David Bennett, the Worldwide Chairman of the International Jewellery Division, noted:
“For those who have had the chance to see the diamond, one adjective comes back: “breath-taking”. Barely any diamonds of this weight are known to possess the same exceptional qualities of purity and perfection as this remarkable stone which is so full of fire and blinding brilliance.”
What further makes this 88.22 carat oval diamond so special is its qualities. This large D Colour diamond is flawless. Not only is it flawless but the Type Ila diamond is also perfect according to every single critical criterion. Although it is fair to think that something of this high standard is truly priceless but as the saying goes everything has a price. Although it is expected to far exceed the estimated price, the diamond is expected to fetch between HK$88 and 100 million. This translates to between US$11.2 and 12.7 million.
In an official statement, the Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, Patti Wong commented: “When you think that one ton of mined earth yields less than a carat of diamond, and that high-quality diamonds over 10 carats are a rarity, the discovery of a 242-carat rough, of gem quality and exceptional size, is nothing short of a miracle. The perfect 88.22-carat diamond is a summary of everything: a wonder of nature, a masterpiece resulting from man’s ability to shape the hardest material on earth into an object of ultimate beauty and the most concentrated form of wealth, as stated by Pliny the Elder almost 2000 years ago. Sotheby’s Hong Kong has had the privilege to bring to the market some of the most important colourless diamonds in the past decade and we look forward to presenting this treasure to the world.”
The significance of the number 88
As in all aspects of this 88.22 carat oval diamond, this stone is really quite unique. Sotheby’s Hong Kong explains the significance of the number 88: “It is a symbol of perfection and eternity, often associated with prosperity, the number eight is considered a lucky number in China and other Asian cultures. The Chinese pronunciation of 8 (bā), similar to that of 發 (fā) meaning wealth or fortune, is welcomed as a blessing of affluence. In its duality – 88 – it is believed to bring good wishes in abundance. There is also a visual resemblance between 88 and 囍 (literally: “double joy”), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 (“joy”).”
What is a Type Ila Diamond?
As mentioned earlier, this diamond is classified as an Ila Diamond. What sets each class of diamonds apart from another is the chemical composition. There are two main “types”, namely, Type I and Type II. What determines which type a diamond falls in is based on the presence or absence of nitrogen which can replace carbon atoms in a diamond’s atomic structure. Therefore, these two diamond types can be told apart on the basis of the difference in their chemical and physical properties. As such, Type II diamonds contain little if any nitrogen (Ila and Ilb). Both of these are extremely rare diamond types and make up less than 2% of all diamonds.
For more information on this fabulous stone click here.