“The Perfect Palette,” a trio of fancy vivid colored diamonds sold in separate lots at Christie’s New York Magnificent Jewels auction, amassed a total of $8.4 million, cumulatively, after their gavels had fallen.
Natural fancy colored diamonds are extremely rare. Only 30% of diamonds recovered from Mother Earth are transparent and clean enough to be considered gem-quality, and only 1 in 10,000 gem-quality diamonds has enough natural color saturation to be declared “fancy.” Now consider, in that elite family of fancy colored diamonds, only a tiny fraction reach the “fancy vivid” designation – widely considered the most valuable of all color descriptions.
Fancy Colors: Saturation
You can read how fancy colored diamonds are graded in our prior post: How the gemstone ‘Color Universe’ works.
2.13 carat Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond, sold for $2.7 million
Up first was this natural Fancy Vivid Blue VS1 clarity cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 2.13 carats and mounted in a platinum setting adorned with colorless round brilliant diamonds.
From the depths of the Earth
The color of natural blue diamonds comes from traces of boron within the crystal lattice of the stone. The necessary amount of boron is minute; less than one atom of boron per million carbon atoms can cause the diamond to have blue color. However, this rarely occurs because boron is usually not present at the depths where natural diamonds typically formed. In 2018 a team of geologists discovered that a number of blue diamonds they were analyzing had formed at pressures indicating depths 3-4 times as deep as other diamonds. Although surprising, this could provide a logical explanation as to why blue diamonds are found at only a small number of mines positioned above slabs of deeply subducted oceanic crust.
2.34 carat Fancy Vivid Orange Diamond, sold for $2.19 million
Next let’s enjoy this natural Fancy Vivid Orange VS1 cut-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 2.34 carats, mounted in an 18k yellow gold setting adorned with round brilliant diamonds.
The Mysterious Fire Diamond
Pure orange diamonds, with no other color modifier, are so rare that what causes their specific coloration is still debated. Some experts believe that the color is a result of nitrogen in the crystal lattice but the exact cause remains a mystery. Edwin Streeter referred to these specimens as ‘fire diamonds’ in The Great Diamonds of the World. Not simply mysterious and rare, it’s extremely unusual for orange diamonds to reach such high levels of saturation that they earn the ‘fancy vivid’ designation. Fancy Vivid Orange diamonds of significant size have become historically famous.
2.17 carat Fancy Vivid Purplish-Pink Diamond, sold for $3.51 million
Finally, let’s talk about this 2.17 Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink SI1 clarity cut-cornered square modified brilliant-cut diamond weighing 2.17 carats, mounted in a platinum and 18k yellow gold setting, adorned with round brilliant diamonds.
A Passion for Pink
Formed with low trace elements of nitrogen, the coloration of more than 99% of pink diamonds are actually caused by distortions in the crystal lattice, not chemical impurities. The preeminent source of pink diamonds, the Argyle mine in Australia, closed last year – causing the value of new pinks arriving to market to notably increase. That’s certainly reflected in the final price commanded by this stone at the Magnificent Jewels auction – more than one million dollars above the high estimate.
$35 million realized
According to Christie’s, the entire auction consisted of 216 lots, of which 94% of the items found buyers, and nine pieces sold for more than a million each, with a total of $35 million realized, all-told. Participants at the sale originated from 40 countries across five continents.