17.61-carat Bleu Royal diamond goes for US$43.8 million to an Asian buyer at Christie's Geneva

The Bleu Royal, the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid blue diamond ever to appear at auction, sold for over CHF 39.5 million (US$43.8 million) at Christie's Geneva on Tuesday (7 November).

The 17.61-carat pear-shaped diamond, set in a ring, had remained part of an important private collection for the past 50 years, and the sale marked the first time it went under the hammer. After an intense bidding war, the exceptionally rare gem eventually went to a bidder on the phone with Isaac Choi, General Manager, South China, suggesting the buyer is most likely from Asia. 

Lot 87 | Bleu Royal exceptional coloured diamond and diamond ring
Weight: 17.61 carats
Colour: Fancy Vivid Blue
Clarity: Internally Flawless
Cut: Pear brilliant-cut diamond
GIA report no. 2215099190
Estimate upon request (Expected to fetch between US$35 to 50 million)
Hammer Price: CHF 34,000,000
Sold: CHF 39,505,000

Auction House: Christie's Geneva
Sale: Magnificent Jewels including the Bleu Royal
Date: 7 November 2023

Bleu Royal commanded the spotlight at Christie's Magnificent Jewels auction in Geneva. Before the bidding kicked off, the auctioneer playfully posed a question to the room, asking, "What should be the starting price?"

And it was set at CHF 19 million, immediately attracting three interested phone bidders. They were represented respectively by Max Fawcett, Head of Jewelry Department in Geneva; Julien-Vincent Brunie, International Head, Jewelry Private Sales; and Isaac Choi, General Manager, South China.

The bidding war swiftly escalated, with the price skyrocketing to CHF 32 million within a minute. As bids continued to climb in increments of CHF 500,000, it became clear that Isaac Choi's client was determined to take the diamond home, countering almost immediately all the way until the hammer fell at CHF 34 million. 

In the end, Choi's client on the phone with paddle number 9755 won the lot for a final price with fees of CHF 39.5 million (US$43.8 million), making it one of the most expensive diamonds ever sold at auction.

Isaac Choi won the lot for his client with paddle number 9755

Blue diamonds are among the rarest of all coloured diamonds. Of all natural diamonds, less than 0.02% come in blue. 

A fabulous fluke of nature, a blue diamond is produced by the random presence of the atomic lattice-bound trace element boron within the stone’s carbon structure during its formation deep in the earth’s core.  

Weighing a staggering 17.61 carats, the Bleu Royal is one of less than ten Fancy Vivid blue diamonds weighing more than 10 carats to ever appear at auction – and it is perfect according to nearly every critical criterion, having achieved high rankings under each of the standards by which the quality of a colored diamond is judged. 

It has been graded Fancy Vivid Blue by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) – the highest possible colour grading, awarded to no more than 1% of blue diamonds submitted to the GIA. It also boasts exceptional clarity, having been declared Internally Flawless by the GIA, ranking second on the chart; in addition to which, it was classified as Type IIb, a rare category which represents less than 0.5 % of all diamonds. 

Weighing 17.61 carats, Bleu Royal is one of the largest internally flawless blue diamonds that have ever appeared at auctions

The GIA report of Bleu Royal

Given that diamonds are the hardest material on earth, great skill and precision are needed to cut them. With blue diamonds, the challenge is even greater: because of their formation, every faceting process of a blue diamond demands extreme care and precision. There is no room for miscalculation – any error would result in a loss of colour and destruction of the beauty.

While pear-shaped diamonds are known to be especially challenging to cut, this 17.61-carat vivid blue stunner is notable for its well-balanced proportions. The refined teardrop shape is a marriage of the eye-catching marquise cut and the sparkling round brilliant cut, with big, bold facets on one end and a concentrated sparkle on the other. It’s a timeless, feminine cut that has been used on several historically important stones, including the Cullinan I — one of the stars of the British crown jewels.

Set in a ring, the Bleu Royal is flanked by two pear-shaped D-colour white diamonds, each weighing approximately three carats and having a clarity of Internally Flawless. 

Bleu Royal was cushioned into a pear brilliant cut

The Bleu Royal is flanked by two white pear brilliant-cut diamonds 

With immense rarity, blue diamonds have been highly sought-after on the market. The current auction record stands at CHF 56.8 million (US$57.5 million), set by The Oppenheimer Blue, a 14.62-carat Fancy Vivid blue, at Christie’s Geneva in 2016. Last year, this record was nearly tied when the 15.1-carat De Beers Blue sold for HK$450.9 million (US$57.47 million) at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

As for the auction price-per-carat record for a blue diamond, it goes to the 12.03-carat The Blue Moon of Josephine, which went for US$48.46 million, over US$4 million per carat, to Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau at Sotheby's Geneva in 2015. 

  • Oppenheimer Blue, 14.62 carats | Sold: US$57.54 million, US$3.93 million per carat, Christie's Geneva, 2016 (Auction record for a blue diamond)
  • The Blue Moon of Josephine, 12.03 carats | Sold: US$48.46 million, US$4.02 million per carat, Sotheby's New York, 2015 (Price-per-carat auction record for a blue diamond)

The Oppenheimer Blue, 14.6 carats | Fancy Vivid Blue diamond | Step-cut, VVS1 Clarity | Sold: CHF 56.8 million (US$57.5 million), Christie’s Geneva, 2016 (Auction record for a blue diamond)

The Blue Moon of Josephine, 12.03 carats | Fancy Vivid Blue diamond | Cushion-shaped, Internally Flawless | Sold: US$48.5 million, Sotheby's New York, 2015 (Price-per-carat auction record for a blue diamond