I think it is time to get caught up on what some of those big, I mean really big diamonds went for in the last couple of days. Don’t you agree? Tuesday, November 12th 2013, at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva, The Orange went for $35.5 million. Remember The Orange? The 14.82 carat pear shaped, fancy vivid orange diamond I talked about in one of my previous blogs? Yes, $35.5 million would be a world record for a fancy vivid orange diamond and a world record price per carat for any colored diamond sold at auction at $2,398,151 per carat. The Orange shattered its high estimate of $21 million.
“Time and again, a stone will appear on the market that is truly a miracle of nature,” said Francois Curiel, International head of Christie’s Jewellery Department. “The 14.82 carat orange diamond is one such a stone, a rare gem, which will perhaps only be seen once in a lifetime. In the sale on Tuesday, it soared far above all previous records for any orange diamond every sold at auction, placing The Orange among the greatest pinks and blues, which are traditionally the most appreciate colored diamonds.”
Here are the lot notes from the Christie’s catalog.
Pure orange diamonds, also named ‘Fire diamonds’ by famous gemologist Edwin Streeter in his book The Great Diamonds of the World (1882), are exceptionally rare in nature. So few have been graded in the world that the origin of their colour still bears a part of mystery. The present diamond is the the largest Fancy Vivid Orange diamond graded by the GIA Gemological Institute of America to date: ‘In the Laboratory’s experience, strongly coloured diamonds in the orange hue range rarely exceed three of four carats in size when polished. (This diamond) is almost four times larger than that size range. In GIA’s coloured diamond grading system, as the colour appearance of strongly coloured diamonds transitions from orangy yellow to orange the occurrence becomes progressively more rare -that is- the less yellow present the more rarely they occur. These diamonds have been compared with the best sapphire from Sri Lanka as it is unusual for orange diamonds to reach such high levels of saturation.’
The appearance of such a gem at auction is so scarce that amongst the very few fancy vivid orange diamonds that were ever sold at auction, the largest was less than 6 carats, making the ORANGE diamond, weighing as much as 14.82 carat, the ultimate possession for diamond collectors.
Remember the Pink Star? The 59.60 carat, oval shaped, Pink Star diamond went on the block Wednesday at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva and sold for $83 million which includes the buyer’s premium. Another world record for a diamond. Shattered all records for colored diamonds, again. Astounding. The Pink Star was sold to Isaac Wolf, a well known New York diamond cutter who has renamed the stone the Pink Dream. Sotheby’s played the theme from the Pink Panther after the hammer came down. Apparently the room erupted with laughter.
59.60 carat Pink Star diamond ring, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Walska Diamond Brooch, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.
Last, but certainly not least, I promised to talk about the Walska Briolette Diamond which was sold Wednesday at the same Sotheby’s sale in Geneva. The diamond (and brooch) went for $10,555,778 million which includes the buyer’s premium. What a day Sotheby’s had!
Ganna Walska, (1887-1984) the Polish born opera and concert singer, was a famous international socialite. She married six time and over the course of her lifetime acquired an amazing collection of jewelry. Her first marriage took place when she was 17 and by 1936, the United Press Association reported that she was ‘estimated to have married fortunes totalling $125,000,00 in her martial ventures with four wealthy men. She likewise was believed to have spent 1/12 of this sum in attempting to further her great ambition to become an opera star.’
Ganna Walska, photo courtesy of the Lotusland Foundation.
The earliest existing photographs of Ganna Walska show her wearing simple pearl necklaces. It was not until the early 1920’s that her great passion for acquiring and wearing spectacular jewels was fulfilled. Ganna’s third marriage was to Alexander Smith Cochran, reputed to be the richest bachelor in the world. His wedding present to her was ‘to go with carte blanche to Cartier and choose anything’ she desired. Her choice was never revealed but it may well have been the fantastic yellow, pear shaped, briolette diamond that weighs 96.62 carats. By the end of the 1920’s, this gem was mounted by Cartier as a drop for one of the long sautoirs which were so fashionable at that time. The Cochran’s had a contentious two year marriage. Cochran bought a second major diamond for Ganna, a 21.15 carat heart shaped ring which became known as the “Walska Heart”. It is rumored that she never thanked him for it.
Fourteen days after divorcing Cochran, Walska married Harold McCormick (who had also recently been divorced from Edith Rockefeller). McCormick was the millionaire son of the Chicago Reaper King, the chairman of the International Harvester Company. Walska had known McCormick for many, many years. As a matter of fact, he introduced her to Alec Cochran. He soon set about trying to advance her career while showering her with the wonderful jewels she adored. Sadly, even his enormous wealth could not assure her success on the opera stage. She received many negative reviews for her performances. She headed off to Europe to pursue her career and in 1931 Harold McCormick divorced her on the grounds of desertion.
Ganna Walska, photo courtesy of the Lotusland Foundation.
By the mid 1930’s, Ganna finally bowed to public opinion and gave up her dream of becoming a great opera diva. She married two more times, both ending in divorce with the last marriage ending in 1946. The sale of her jewels took place in New York in April 1971. She died in 1984. The sale assured Ganna that even if she was not to be immortalised as an opera diva, she would surely be remembered as one of the 20th century’s great jewelry collectors. The Walska diamond was reset into a brooch in 1971 by Van Cleef & Arpels.