Ultra-Rare Oppenheimer Blue Diamond May Fetch $45 Million at Christie’s Auction

Oppenheimer Blue
Oppenheimer Blue

On May 18th, Christie’s will hold an auction in Geneva, Switzerland for the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever to be offered auctioned.The diamond, named the “Oppenheimer Blue” for former owner Sir Philip Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was head of De Beers’ Central Selling Organization, a known connoisseur of stones and owned the stone from 1916-1995.

It’s not surprising that this special gem game from someone with an eye for the best and an inside track to get it. This 14.62 carat, emerald-cut diamond is known for it’s “perfect hue impeccable proportions and fabulous rectangular shape,” according to the auction house. It will be sold with the original “Eight Blades” setting, shown above.

Oppenheimer Blue is expected to go for somewhere between $38 million and $45 million, a somewhat conservative estimate considering the record-breaking $48.5 million that the Blue Moon, a 12.03 cushion-cut diamond got last year. More recently, a 10.1 carat internally flawless, oval-shaped, fancy vivid blue diamond sold for $31.8 million on April 5 at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.

Christie’s has handled other historic sales of blue diamonds, which are extremely rare. These include the Tereshchenko in 1984, the Wittelsbach Blue in 2008, the Begum Blue in 1995, and a blue-diamond ring owned by Marie-Antoinette, auctioned in 1983. Curiel notes the coveted nature of such rare gems: ‘Blue diamonds have gained a wider following, not only because they are stunning, but because there are so few of them available in the world.’

Fancy Diamond grading system
Fancy Diamond grading system curtosey of GIA

Colored diamonds, or “fancy colored stones” as they are called, have a different GIA grading system than the familiar D- K range that applies to colorless diamonds. The gradations of these stones begin with Fancy Light, which can be described as having color, but a bit faded. The next is “Fancy”, which has a little more intensity to the color, then “Fancy Intense” which has even more color.

Blue tone and saturation chart from G&G
Blue tone and saturation chart from G&G

“Fancy Intense” is a designation that is very fine and jewelers proudly display them and ladies very proudly wear them. But, there is still one better—the “Fancy Vivid” which is the most intense color designation, and, naturally, the category of the Oppenheimer Blue. There are also, less valuable “Fancy Dark” and “Fancy Deep” designations, but they have a lot of black and grey that makes them less desirable.  The scant number of large, vivid blue diamonds in the world, make this one of the rarest of gems.

Ladies and gentlemen, get your paddles ready. Click here for auction information.