By Michelle Graff
“It just transfixes anyone who looks at it,” Sotheby’s Quig Bruning said of the 102.39-carat oval-shaped diamond being offered without reserve. The live auction of the stone is set for Oct. 5 in Hong Kong. (All photos courtesy of Sotheby’s)
Hong Kong—This fall, a 102.39-carat D flawless diamond will go up for sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, with what the auction house describes as an “unprecedented twist” for these unusual times.

The oval-shaped stone has no reserve price and is being offered by the auction house without a pre-sale estimate, Quig Bruning, head of Sotheby’s jewelry department in New York, explained in a phone interview Wednesday.

A reserve price is the confidential minimum selling price agreed upon between the auction house and the consigner.

Bruning said sometimes, items are offered at auction without reserve—Bonhams, for example, is selling a collection of intaglios and cameos without reserve at a sale later this month—but there’s usually still an estimate given.

This stone will go up on the auction block without either, meaning the highest bid will be the winning bid.

“This is absolutely going to be a gauge of the market,” he said. “We are truly looking at, what will the market bear?”

Despite the toll COVID-19 has taken on the global economy and the havoc it’s wreaked on live events, Bruning said Sotheby’s has had success selling jewelry online and at the live auctions it has held this year.

He pointed to the fancy colored hearts sold in Hong Kong this summer as examples.

He said the auction house has confidence in the value of large, exceptional diamonds, and views it as an “ideal time” to offer this stone via a hybrid online-offline sale and “set the market.”

20200910 .271 carat rough

The 102.39-carat D flawless diamond has excellent polish and symmetry; Bruning called it “an extraordinary stone” that is “a beautiful example of a diamond.”

“It just transfixes anyone who looks at it,” he said. “There’s something above and beyond that this stone possesses. There’s a life and a character to it that you don’t normally see.”

Though Sotheby’s is not revealing the name of the company that consigned the diamond for sale, it did say Diacore cut and polished the stone over the course of a year from a rough diamond weighing 271 carats (pictured above) discovered at De Beers’ now-closed Victor Mine in Canada in 2018.

The auction house said it is one of only eight diamonds of “regular shape” (meaning modern cuts, not old mine, old European, etc.) that are over 100 carats and D color and flawless or internally flawless ever to be offered at auction.

Sold for between $11 million (Sotheby’s Geneva, November 1993) and $33.7 million (Christie’s Geneva, November 2017), these perfect peers provide a gauge for what the diamond might garner when it goes up for sale next month.

The 102.39-carat stone is also the second-largest oval-shaped diamond of its kind to appear at auction, surpassed only by the 118.28-carat oval Sotheby’s sold for $30.8 million, or $260,252 per carat, in Hong Kong in 2013.

20200910 102 D F in handAnother shot of the 102-carat, D flawless diamond being offered at auction next month

Sotheby’s will sell the diamond in a live single-lot auction in Hong Kong on Oct. 5.

Bruning said the auction house does plan to have bidders present at the auction—in addition to taking absentee, online and phone bids—though it will ultimately depend on the situation on the ground in Hong Kong at that time.

By-appointment-only previews are taking place in Beijing, Shanghai, New York and Taipei before the stone returns to Hong Kong for the sale.

Online bidding opens next Tuesday, Sept. 15.

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