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The Pink Star – a second rising.

The Pink Star – a second rising.

The Pink StarImage courtesy of Sotheby's

Sotheby’s have announced that “The Pink Star” will be returning to auction in Hong Kong on 4th April 2017.

We have seen a number of pink diamonds come to auction over the last few years… what makes this one any different?

The-Pink-Star-front

First of all, this is a monster of a gem. At 59.60 carats, the Pink Star is the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever to have been graded by the GIA. 

Let’s just stop and think about that. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is possibly the strongest company when it comes to diamond grading. If you try to sell any loose diamond over 3 carats today, your buyer will expect to see a certificate from this company. 

The GIA has probably handled and graded more diamonds for colour and clarity than any other gemmological institution in the world. If they are saying that this stone is the largest they have ever seen, then it is probably the largest one in the world. 

In conversation with David Bennett, the head of the Jewellery Department at Sotheby’s, he told me that this diamond is over twice as large as the next comparable stone – the Graff Pink. So let's take a look at the line-up of large pink diamonds at auction recently.

Lot-550-Graff-Pink

The Graff Pink 

Colour – Fancy Intense Pink
Clarity – VVS2
Cut – Emerald cut
Carat weight – 24.78 carats
Auction sale details – $46.2 million at Sotheby’s, Geneva in November 2010

The-Sweet-Josephine

The Sweet Josephine

Colour – Fancy Vivid Pink
Clarity – VVS2
Cut – Cushion-cut 
Carat weight – 16.08 carats
Auction sale details – $28.50 million at Christie’s, Geneva in November 2015

57068527bb3ee

The Unique Pink

Colour – Fancy Vivid Pink
Clarity – VVS2
Cut – Pear-shaped 
Carat weight – 15.38 carats
Auction sale details – $31.56 million at Sotheby’s, Geneva in May 2016

The-Pink-Starmounted

The Pink Star

Colour – Fancy Vivid Pink
Clarity – Internally Flawless
Cut – Oval Mixed-cut
Carat weight – 59.60 carats
Auction sale details – to be auctioned at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong on April 4th 2017

The other key point you might have taken from this list is that every important Fancy Pink stone to have hit the auction blocks in recent years has had a clarity of VVS2. Don’t get me wrong – this is a truly excellent grade – but at two grades lower than the coveted Internally Flawless, it really does have a negative effect on the price of the stone.

What’s the history of this stone?

The Pink Star was mined in South Africa by De Beers in 1999, and weighed 132.50 carats in the rough. The Steinmetz Group (for whom the stone was originally named the Steinmetz Pink) took 20 months to cut and polish the gemstone before unveiling it to the public at the Monaco Grand Prix on 29th May 2003.

Despite its relatively short 18 years on the surface of the world, this stunning stone made it to the Smithsonian’s exhibition “The Splendor of Diamonds” between June and September of 2003, in such august company as The De Beers Millennium Star (203.04 carats), The Ocean Dream (5.51 carats) - the largest blue-green diamond, and The Moussaieff Red (5.11 carats) - the largest red diamond.

In 2007, the Steinmetz Pink passed into private hands and was renamed the Pink Star before being auctioned by Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2013. Bidding reached the astonishing sum of $83,187,381 – a world record for any gemstone or diamond of any colour. 

The purchaser was Isaac Wolf – a New York diamond cutter – who renamed the stone The Pink Dream after outbidding three rivals for the precious pink.

In an unprecedented move for the purchaser of such a significant gem, Mr Wolf explained his purchase to the world in a YouTube video. In it, he stated that he was representing a group of investors who considered the diamond to be worth about $150 million based on current prices for fancy vivid pink diamonds of similar quality. (1)

 

The only problem was, Mr Wolf didn’t pay his bill. Sotheby’s had guaranteed the previous owner of the diamond the price of $60 million, and in the case of a defaulting buyer, became liable for the stone themselves. Consequently, in February 2014, Sotheby’s entered the stone to their own inventory with a value of $72 million.

While many businesses would flounder under these circumstances, Sotheby’s were not shaken. As Patrick McClymont, Sotheby’s CFO said in conversation with analysts at Reuters, “we are quite comfortable with our valuation, and see real value in owning the diamond at this price.” (2)

In 2016 it was announced through Forbes that Sotheby's had gone into partnership with two other firms for the Pink Star.  "Diacore and Mellen Inc. have acquired an ownership interest in one of the world's natural treasures: the remarkable Pink Star diamond". Diacore - a multi-national company specialising in the manufacture (cutting) of large rare stones - stated that they were the original owners of the rough material from which the Pink Star was cut. Mellen Inc. is a private, family-run jeweler based in New York. (3)

Why are Sotheby’s bringing it back to market now?

As David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery Division, states in the press release, this is “a time of unprecedented demand for the finest in coloured diamonds”. More attention than ever has been directed towards the diamond as an investment option. We are living in a period of global uncertainty where stocks and shares are no longer necessarily a safe bet, and investors seem to be looking at more tangible options.

Diamonds and precious gems have always been strong commodities. They are small, easily transportable, and worth a great deal of money. Over the last few years we have seen more and more blue and pink diamonds of significant sizes come to the rostrum and the prices only seem to be rising. Let's hope that this trend continues for this stone.

What does the Pink Star offer?

So let’s look at what we really expect from big diamonds in order to see a return on investment - outside of the market factors themselves!

The-Pink-Star-alt-1-hand

We want a beautiful clean gemstone. The higher the clarity grade, the higher the price. It’s no good to us if the stone in question looks like an lump of coal. No one will pay a fortune for one of those!! As an Internally Flawless diamond, it doesn’t get much better than The Pink Star. There are a couple of extra facets on the stone and possibly a polish mark or two, but those don't affect the clarity grading.

Colour is a big thing these days. Pretty much any colour diamond other than black will do nicely in regards to desireability and price. The prettier, more vivid or intense shades are harder to come by so we’d expect to see a premium on these stones.

When it comes to pink diamonds, we are looking at the imminent closure of the Argyle mine – the greatest producer of these precious stones – who currently supply 95% of the world’s pinks. Please note that this doesn’t make them common! The total annual production of pinks from this mine would just about fill an ashtray. (4) The Argyle mine is not promising production past 2020, which helps to ensure that natural pink diamonds will keep their rare status - also making it less likely that any larger pink will steal the Pink Star's record for size and quality.

As David Bennett said, “The extraordinary size of this 59.60 carat diamond, paired with its richness of colour, surpasses any known pink diamond recorded in history.” It will be interesting to see whether Wolf and his investor pack were accurate in their price prediction back in 2013. 

 

When one considers that just only 16 months ago in November 2015, Christie’s told the Guardian that “only three pink stones classified by the Gemological Institute of America as “fancy” and weighing more than 10 carats had been up for sale in 250 years” (5), we really do have to appreciate how extraordinary these stones are and what a privilege it is to have the opportunity to see this wonderful gem not just once, but twice in a lifetime.

Sotheby's

The-Pink-Star-alt-4

(1) Forbes 
(2) Reuters
(3) Forbes
(4) LJ West diamonds
(5) The Guardian 

 

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