Auction Sales

Sotheby’s will offer what it has called the “most valuable” set of earrings in auction history at its Geneva sale next month – though the two stones don’t match in color.

The pear-shaped “Apollo and Artemis Diamonds” — one blue and one pink — will jointly lead the Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction in the Swiss city on May 16 as separate lots, Sotheby’s said last week.

The auction house estimated the “Apollo Blue,” a 14.54-carat, fancy vivid blue, internally flawless diamond, at $38 million to $50 million, or up to $3.4 million per carat. The piece is the largest of its color and clarity to come under the hammer.

Its counterpart, the “Artemis Pink,” a 16-carat, fancy intense pink, VVS2-clarity diamond, is expected to fetch $12.5 million to $18 million, or up to $1.1 million per carat.

“These exquisite colored diamonds are enormously rare, and each is a wonderful stone in its own right,” said David Bennett, worldwide chairman of Sotheby’s international jewelry division. “Together, as a pair of earrings, they are breathtaking. We have named them after Apollo and Artemis, a twin brother and sister of great power and beauty who were among the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.”

In a separate Magnificent Jewels auction in New York on April 25, Sotheby’s will offer a range of colored diamonds and gemstones, including a hexagonal, 34.40-carat Colombian emerald. The stone is estimated at $800,000 to $1.2 million.

Rio Tinto’s diamond production fell in the first quarter, as its Argyle mine in Australia yielded a reduced volume and lower grade of ore.

Group output dropped 8% year on year to 4.152 million carats for the three month period, with Argyle’s production down 11% to 3.016 million carats, Rio Tinto reported Thursday. Argyle’s operations shifted underground in 2013, helping extend the life of mine to 2020.

Rio Tinto also owns 60% of the Diavik mine in Canada, where first-quarter production was in line with the previous year at 1.136 million carats. Dominion Diamond Corporation owns the remaining 40% of Diavik.

Rio Tinto maintained its forecast to recover between 19 million and 24 million carats this year, representing an increase from the 17.953 million carats it mined in 2016.

De Beers Growth

De Beers’ rough-diamond sales and production grew in the first quarter, signaling upbeat sentiment in the manufacturing sector.

Sales volume jumped 74% to 14.1 million carats, reflecting improved rough demand, the company said Monday. The number of sights — contract sales events — also impacted the result, as there were three this quarter compared with two during the same period last year, De Beers explained.

The increase in demand was especially notable for lower-value products that had built up in the company’s inventory following a drop in demand at the end of last year. Sightholders returned to buying these smaller diamonds in January after holding back their purchases due to the impact of India’s demonetization policy on liquidity in the manufacturing sector.

De Beers reported strong sales in January and slightly lower but steady sales in February and March. Its sales value increased by 2% year on year to $1.86 billion during the first three sights, according to Rapaport calculations. Those sights followed a steady decline in rough prices during 2016, when De Beers’ price index decreased 13%.

The company’s production increased 8% to 7.4 million carats during the quarter, amid improved trading conditions and the addition of diamonds from the new Gahcho Kué mine in Canada, which reached commercial production on March 2.

Dubai – Diamond Sales Growth

The Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) gained 268 new members in 2016, facilitating a sharp rise in diamond-trading activity there.

A total of 945 companies now operate in the bourse, out of the 13,500 members that the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) hosts in its tax-free zone, according to the DMCC’s recent annual report.

The DMCC, which includes commodities such as gold, diamonds, pearls, base metals, coffee, tea, spices and agricultural products, recruited a record 2,016 new members in total during the year. In the past decade, its membership has risen by an average of 33% annually.

“Dubai’s advantage of being located at the natural crossroads of the world’s major markets, both in terms of time zone and proximity, means we remain optimally positioned to facilitate global trade,” said DMCC chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem (pictured). He also attributed the growth to the infrastructure and support that have been developed at the DMCC in recent years.

The diamond exchange, which operates within the DMCC structure, saw rough imports rise 16% to $6.3 billion, according to data provided to Rapaport News. By volume, the imports increased 13% to 70.1 million carats, and the average price grew 2% to $89.76 per carat.

Rough exports by value jumped 29% to $9.77 billion, with the volume of exports rising 26% to 79.9 million carats. The average price of the exports grew 3% to $122.20 per carat, showing a 36% margin over the average price of imports.

Dubai sought to strengthen its position in the diamond market last year, holding the chairmanship of the Kimberley Process and hosting 15 diamond tenders, the report stated.

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