Sotheby's is set to auction off a 102-carat diamond that could become the most expensive jewel ever sold to an online bidder.
The stone, a 102.39-carat D Colour Flawless Oval Diamond, could fetch $10 million to $30 million. Only seven flawless white diamonds of more than 100 carats have ever been sold at auction. It is the second-largest oval diamond of its kind ever sold at auction.
"One hundred-carat diamonds as a rule are exceedingly rare," said Quig Bruning, head of Sotheby's jewelry department in New York. "One hundred-carat D flawless are even more rare."
While Sotheby's doesn't have an official estimate, comparable diamonds have sold for between $11 million and $30 million in the past, Bruning said.
The stone, described by Sotheby's as "the size of a lollipop," will be sold at a live auction in Hong Kong on Oct. 5, but it will also be open to online bidders starting on Tuesday. If it's purchased by an online bidder, it would likely top the record for the most expensive piece of jewelry ever sold online — a pair of fancy blue and pink diamond earrings that sold for $6 million online in 2016.
The 102-carat stone was cut from a 271-carat rough diamond that was discovered in the Victor Mine in Ontario in 2018. The diamond was cut and polished over the course of a year by Diacore to bring out its "best brilliance, fire and scintillation," according to Sotheby's. The stone belongs to an elite subgroup of diamonds known as "Type IIa," which are the most chemically pure type of diamond with the highest level of transparency.
Demand for the rarest, largest diamonds has strengthened during the coronavirus pandemic, as the wealthy have benefited from stronger stock markets and investors look for long-term stores of value in a financial world awash with cash.
While demand for everyday jewelry sold in stores has plunged — since people aren't visiting malls and shops as often, or wearing jewelry as often — prices for so-called investible diamonds have remained strong. Wealthy buyers, especially in Asia and the Middle East, covet diamonds as the ultimate hard-asset, since they are durable and portable.
Sales of jewelry and diamonds online have also increased, as people buy more from home. Sotheby's said its online jewelry sales have totaled $31 million this year, seven times more than the same period last year. It has sold three lots for more than $1 million online.
"The retail experience — going into the store, trying things on — that's gone right now, or at the very least has changed substantially," Bruning said. "A lot of things have moved online, and we have been able to really capitalize on that by showcasing things in a new and compelling kind of way globally."
When asked whether the buyer of a 100-carat diamond would ever wear it, he said: "Absolutely. They want to enjoy them."