With a hammer price of $30.4 million, the 25.59-carat, pigeon-blood-red “Sunrise Ruby” obliterated two auction records at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva last night.
The winning bid, which was more than $12 million above Sotheby’s high estimate of $18 million, set a new auction mark for the highest price ever paid for a ruby. The Sunrise Ruby also established a new high water mark for the highest price-per-carat ever paid at auction for a ruby.
As the evening's final lot — Lot 502 — was announced, the room was abuzz with excitement as a dark-haired model in a black dress neared the podium wearing the Sunrise Ruby on the ring finger of her right hand. Onlookers watched the drama unfold in real-time via a video feed on the Sothebys.com website.
Bidding for the Sunrise Ruby started at 11 million Swiss francs (about $11.8 million) and moved steadily upward during a seven-minute battle between two phone bidders. One of the anonymous phone bidders prevailed with an offer of 25 million francs. (The final price was 28.5 million francs, which included the Buyer's Premium of 13%.)
"A new record price for a ruby," proclaimed David Bennett, the chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry division, as he brought down the hammer to applause.
The final price of the Sunrise Ruby eclipsed the previous record holder — the $8.6 million Graff Ruby — by an astonishing $18.3 million. The Graff Ruby was expected to retain its record for the highest price-per-carat ever paid at auction for a ruby ($997,727), but that record was crushed by the Sunrise Ruby, which ended up netting $1.19 million per carat.
Sotheby’s had described the Sunrise Ruby as a superb and extremely rare ruby and diamond ring by Cartier. The cushion-shaped ruby is set between two shield-shaped white diamonds weighing 2.47 carats and 2.70 carats, respectively.
A grading report by Gübelin stated that rubies of this quality are generally found in small crystals. “Based on our records,” the report noted, “we can conclude that a natural ruby from Burma of this size and color is extremely rare. Thus, the described gemstone with its combination of outstanding characteristics can be considered a unique treasure of nature.”
Other high-profile lots at the Sotheby’s Geneva auction included the “The Historic Pink” diamond and the “Ivresse” diamond necklace.
The Historic Pink, a fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 8.72 carats, fetched $15.94 million. That result was in the middle range of the pre-sale $13.65 million to $17.5 million estimate. The center diamond was once the property of heiress and philanthropist Huguette Clark and weighed 9 carats before it was re-polished. The pink diamond is also believed to have been part of the jewelry collection of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, niece of France's Emperor Napoleon I.
With 190.77 carats of cascading round, pear-shaped and marquise-shaped diamonds, the “Ivresse” necklace by Cartier sold for $7.27 million. This was on the low end of Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate of $6 million to $10 million.
Credits: Getty Images; Sothebys.com.