Sotheby’s auction house will be offering an 88.22-carat, flawless diamond as the top lot of its Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite on April 2. The D color, flawless, type Ila, oval brilliant gem has an estimate of $11.2 million to $12.7 million.
The auction house is calling the stone “perfect” based on “every critical criterion” that diamonds are measured. It has received the highest ranking for color, clarity, cut, polish and symmetry. There are few diamonds ever offered at auction of more than 50 carats that have all of these qualities. In fact, it is one of only three oval diamonds of over 50 carats to appear at auction in living memory, and the largest to be auctioned in over five years, Sotheby’s said in a statement. The Type IIa designation means it is the most chemically pure type of diamond with exceptional optical transparency. It comprises fewer than 2% of all gem diamonds.
The finished diamond was from a 242-carat rough stone that was discovered in the Jwaneng mine in Botswana, jointly owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana and known for producing high quality roughs. Following its discovery, the rough was cut and polished over a period of several months to produce a symmetrical oval brilliant diamond. Sotheby’s said given the elongated shape of the rough the oval shape was chosen to preserve the greatest amount of weight.
“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,” said Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia. “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.”
David Bennett, worldwide chairman, International Jewellery Division, described the stone as “breathtaking,” adding that “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.”
The number of carats, 88, is a symbol of perfection and eternity, often associated with prosperity and luck in China and other Asian cultures, Sotheby’s says. “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’).”
So it seems appropriate that the diamond will be offered in Hong Kong.