Sotheby’s decision to sell a 101.38-carat pear-cut D Flawless diamond in a single-lot auction allowing for crypto-currencies was seen as a strange and bold gamble… which seems to have paid off.
On July 9, the Key 10138 diamond, whose name has tech overtones, sold for $12.3 million to an anonymous private buyer who paid with a crypto-currency. The Hong Kong sale registered a new world record for a stone or jewelry purchased at auction with a digital currency. These types of transactions, it should be noted, are still fairly low-key.
“We are very pleased to witness a historic moment, where one of the oldest and rarest treasures on Earth was purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency,” said Wenhao Yu, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Jewellery in Asia, in a statement. “Today we have seen the active participation of collectors from around the world and the expression of interest from new customers outside the traditional collector group. By offering this innovative payment option for our luxury sale, we have opened up new possibilities and opened the doors to a whole new customer base, mostly from the digital generation.”
The Key 10138, polished by Diacore, is one of only 10 diamonds over 100 carats to be featured at auction. It is also the second largest pear-cut diamond to be sold at auction.
The hammer price is in the middle of the stone’s initial estimate of $10 million to $15 million.
Sotheby’s noted strong demand for premium white diamonds at its recent auctions. For example, 80% of the white diamonds offered at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels event this year found buyers. The auction house added that 30 percent of the buyers at its Luxury Edit sale this year had never purchased from Sotheby’s.
In June, a 50.03-carat round sold for $2.7 million in a sale without a reserve price at Sotheby’s New York, setting a new record for a piece of jewelry sold at an online auction.