A Hong Kong tycoon has bought the 12.03-carat Blue Moon diamond auctioned at Sotheby’s in Geneva for a record $48.4 million.
Joseph Lau confirmed he bought the ring-mounted, cushion-shaped blue diamond for his 7-year-old daughter, renaming it “Blue Moon of Josephine” after her.
Sotheby’s said the sale had set “a new world auction record for any diamond of any color”.
It is not the first time Joseph Lau, a property billionaire, has bought precious stones for his daughter.
The businessman – who was convicted of bribery and money laundering in 2014 – is also confirmed as the buyer of a 16.08-carat pink diamond, which Christie’s sold for $28.5 million on November 10.
The pink diamond purchased earlier this week has been renamed “Sweet Josephine”, a spokeswoman for Joseph Lau said.
In 2009, Joseph Lau bought another blue diamond for his daughter – the 7.03-carat “Star of Josephine” – paying what was then a record $9.5 million.
The tycoon was sentenced to five years in jail after his corruption convictions in a Macau court, but has avoided prison by not visiting the territory. There is no extradition treaty between Macau and Hong Kong.
Sotheby’s spokesman David Bennett described Blue Moon diamond as “magical”.
“I’ve never seen a more beautiful stone,” he said.
“The shape, the color, the purity, it’s a magical stone and everybody, I think, who put it on their finger thought so.”
Two bidders were locked in a telephone bidding war for eight minutes before the hammer went down on November 11 sale, correspondents say, with the jewel not exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $35-$55 million.
The diamond was found in South Africa in January 2014 and its striking blue color is attributed to the presence of the element boron within its crystal structure.
It was named “Blue Moon” to reflect its rarity.
Experts say the market for colored diamonds has become increasingly strong in recent months, with both blue and pink diamonds attracting a lot of attention in jewel sales in Geneva.
Colored diamonds are among the rarest in the world, even ones that are not particularly vivid or clear.
Bunny Mellon’s blue diamond has fetched $32.6 million at an auction in New York, breaking the world auction record for any diamond of its color, Sotheby’s says.
The stunning 9.75 carat, pear-shaped diamond was bought by a Hong Kong private collector after 20 minutes of competitive bidding on November 20.
The price also set a new world auction record for price-per-carat for any diamond, the auction house said.
The jewel had been owned by Rachel Lambert otherwise known as Bunny Mellon, the art collector wife of the late philanthropist and racehorse breeder Paul Mellon. She died in March aged 103.
“Mrs. Mellon’s diamond absolutely deserves the place in the record books that it achieved,” said Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby’s jewellery department in New York.
It was the highlight of a collection of Bunny Mellon’s jewels and other prized objects that Sotheby’s sold for more than $42 million in New York on November 20, well above the pre-sale estimate of $19.2 million.
A 29.6-carat blue diamond has been discovered at Cullinan mine in South Africa.
The stone was recovered by Petra Diamonds at its Cullinan mine, about 25 miles north-east of Pretoria.
“This stone is one of the most exceptional stones recovered at Cullinan during Petra’s operation of the mine,” the company said.
Petra Diamonds unearthed a 25.5-carat blue diamond which sold for $16.9 million in 2013.
The latest discovery is also expected to sell for a high price.
“The stone is an outstanding vivid blue with extraordinary saturation, tone and clarity, and has the potential to yield a polished stone of great value and importance,” Petra Diamonds said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 29.6-carat blue diamond has been discovered at Cullinan mine in South Africa
Cullinan mine has produced hundreds of large stones and is famed for its production of blue diamonds – among the rarest and most highly coveted of all diamonds.
The mine was acquired in 2008 by Petra Diamonds, which also operates in Botswana and Tanzania.
A similar 26.6-carat blue rough diamond discovered by the company in May 2009 was cut into a near perfect stone and fetched just under $10 million at a Sotheby’s auction.
Another deep-blue diamond from Cullinan was auctioned for $10.8 million in 2012 and set a world record for the value per carat.
In 1905, the renowned Star of Africa blue diamond – the world’s second largest cut diamond – was discovered at the Cullinan mine. The pear-shaped 530-carat stone was presented to King Edward VII and became part of the British crown jewels.