A Year of Color at Auction

A gavel comes down hard and history is made---that is until the next auction. 2023 could be called the Year of Color for rare fancy color diamonds and gemstones. The auction room provides one with a front row seat (even virtually) to experience the electricity of frenzied bidding during auctions for color diamonds. The spontaneous eruption of applause often signals a new price has been achieved for these coveted treasures.

And why shouldn’t that happen? Each stone paraded before buyers represents a one-off event. In the world of fancy color diamonds it’s always top-of-mind to collectors that the stone they’re bidding on will never come their way again.

The drivers for this robust activity are collectors’ growing appreciation for the beauty and scarcity of these jewels found throughout a global market. Easily accessible data today aids buyers in understanding the value of colored diamonds and gems. And market strength is fortified by the growth of color diamond companies entering this sector. On the other hand, price stability can be attributed to a declining availability of these jewels which enhances their attractiveness to long term collectors.

Key to understanding value and scarcity with buyers is a growing demand for transparency within this niche. Gemstone origin, best mining practices, and knowledge of treatments are but a few of the factors that collectors want to know about—and its readily available.

A quick overview of the most valuable color diamond sales in 2023 helps us to contextualize which stones are most desirable to collectors, and those that may be more difficult to acquire moving forward.

Baby Blue

Christie’s Geneva offered up the Bleu Royal in its November sale. The 17.61 carat fancy vivid blue IF pear shape stone was not only the largest diamond of its color but became the most expensive jewel of the year, realizing $44M.

Bleu Royal - 17.61 ct Fancy Vivid Blue IF Pear Shape

Very Pretty in Pink

Sotheby’s New York Magnificent Jewels June auction highlighted another IF stone. This time it was a 10.57 carat cushion cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond. Named the Eternal Pink, it earned the title of most valuable stone of its color, selling at $34.8M.

The Eternal Pink - 10.57 ct Cushion Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond

Phillips Geneva sold a fancy intense pink 20.19 carat rectangular modified brilliant cut diamond in November for $13.2M.

Fancy Intense Pink 20.19 ct rectangular modified brilliant cut diamond

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More Blues

While a radiant cut 11.28 carat blue diamond missed its low estimate at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction, it fetched a respectable $25.3M. The Infinite Blue diamond ranked as the third most valuable diamond sold at auction.

The Infinite Blue - 11.28 ct Blue Radiant cut Diamond

The 4th slot goes to Bulgari Laguna Blu, which led Sotheby’s May Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction. The striking fancy vivid blue pear shaped diamond weighing 11.16 carats brought in $25.2M.
Bulgari Laguna Blu - 11.16 ct Fancy Vivid Blue pear shaped diamond

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Sunny Yellow

Sotheby’s Hong Kong sold this exceptional platinum and 18K yellow gold neckpiece featuring a modified brilliant cut fancy vivid yellow diamond. The 74.38 carat fetched a sunny $2.54M.
Exceptional gold neckpiece featuring a fancy vivid yellow diamond

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Green and Gorgeous

Sotheby’s called it with their description of an exceptional green diamond ring. The November Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels offered a “Rare and highly Important Fancy Intense Green diamond ring.” Green diamonds of any size are scarce. The VS2 clarity green diamond weighing 4.42 carats sold for $1.88M.

 Rare and highly Important Fancy Intense Green diamond ring

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Gemstone Joy

A look back at exceptional color gemstone auctions of 2023 must include a Mozambique ruby that came to auction in June 2023 at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels in New York. Called Estrela de Fura, the 55.22 carat sold for $34.8M, setting a world record price for any colored gemstone.

Estrela de Fura - 55.22 ct Mozambique ruby

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2024 on the Horizon

With these auction results in our rearview mirror, we see a future poised to experience some enthusiastic hammer prices for exceptional jewels. Collectors are sophisticated today and often focused on acquiring investments that provide generational wealth.

After a period of stagnation until around 2009, the color diamond sector began an upward trend in tandem with an increased interest from Asian buyers. Growth has been on a steady ascent since then with both individual collectors and wholesale resellers.

High network collectors are gaining confidence in their investments as their overall knowledge of these products deepens. Jewels are one avenue to creating this portable wealth that delivers enjoyment to its owners.

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