The 12.03-carat “Blue Moon” diamond shattered all records Wednesday at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale. The cushion-shaped Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid blue diamond sold for more than $48.4 million, setting a world auction records for any diamond, gem or jewel. It is the first diamond or gemstone to surpass $4 million per carat, also an auction record.
It sold within its estimate of $35 million to $55 million.
The buyer has been identified as billionaire Hong Kong real estate investor Joseph Lau, according to news reports, the same person who who paid a record $28.5 million for a 16.08-carat cushion shaped fancy vivid pink diamond at Christie’s Geneva sale on Tuesday. He reportedly named both diamonds after his seven-year-old daughter, Josephine. “The Blue Moon of Josephine” for his most recent purchase and “Sweet Josephine” for the pink diamond.
The second highest price ever paid for a blue diamond at auction was $32.6 million in Nov 2014 for the “Zoe Diamond” and the second highest price ever paid for a diamond at auction was $46 million for the “Graff Pink” in 2013, according to Ehud Laniado, chairman of Cora international, the seller of the Blue Moon.
“The Blue Moon diamond, a Fancy Vivid Blue stone, is a true gift of nature,” Laniado said. “A jeweler has the chance to handle a unique diamond like this only once in a lifetime if they’re lucky and we are thrilled at Cora to have had this opportunity.”
There is no other known blue diamond with this combination of size and characteristics, added gemologist Gary Roskin, executive director of the International Colored Gemstone Association.
“The Blue Moon Diamond is a magnificently beautiful and rare colored gemstone,” Roskin said. “It is Internally Flawless, right at the top of the clarity grading scale (alongside Flawless), and Fancy Vivid Blue, right at the top of the color grading scale. These are extraordinary combinations in any size, let alone 12 carats. There really isn’t another one out there to buy—at least one that we know of.”
Laniado noted that only four of 400 diamonds graded by the Gemological Institute of America received a grade of vivid blue. “Even amongst this extremely rare class of blue diamonds, to find one Vivid Blue diamond which is over 12 carats and internally flawless, really only happens once in a blue moon.”
In addition to its size and impeccable characteristics, its origin is known, which is rare. The gem was created from a 29.62-carat rough diamond discovered in January 2014 at the Cullinan mine in South Africa, the world’s largest source of fancy blue diamonds (although it accounts for less than 0.1 of its diamond output) and some of the most famous colorless diamonds on earth. Cora International paid a reported $26 million for the rough.
“It took Cora experts five months to assess the rough stone,” Laniado said. “They then created 30 models of the diamond and cut each one differently until they achieved the perfect result. It took three more months to bring the Blue Moon diamond to its ultimate spectacular shape using advanced technology and sophisticated tools.”
And it took one night to make auction history.