Calculating a work’s value within the art market is a process that interpolates a number of different factors: how much demand is surfacing for the artist, what trends are dictating which kinds of acquisitions collectors want to make, how will inflation affect things; the list goes on. With precious diamonds, however, you can pretty much consistently expect high prices and satisfying results. On Wednesday, Sotheby’s announced that during Hong Kong Luxury Week in late April, they’ll be offering the 15.10-carat De Beers Cullinan Blue diamond at auction. Sotheby’s is touting the gem as the “largest internally flawless step cut vivid blue diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded.” It’s expected to sell for $48 million.
Blue diamonds are exceptionally rare. That’s because a very particular ratio of one boron atom to 1 million carbon atoms has to be achieved in order to give a diamond its distinctive blue hue, and the odds of finding such a diamond in the course of mining can be as rare as one in 10,000. Perhaps also because of their rarity and the mad scramble humans tend to engage in in order to acquire blue diamonds, they’re also associated with bad luck and accursedness.
The Hope Diamond, perhaps the most famous blue diamond in the world, is housed in the Smithsonian and has one of the most sordid pasts of any object in history. The largest blue diamond in the world was found in an Indian mine, and later made its way into the possession of King Louis XIV, but it was stolen in the midst of the French Revolution.
Since this incident, many people who’ve come into possession of the Hope Diamond have been met with terrible misfortune or death: Henry Philip Hope’s only son died, undocumented owner Prince Ivan Kanitovski was murdered by Russian revolutionaries and James Todd, the mailman who delivered the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian, got his leg crushed in a car accident. Also, his house burned down.
In conclusion, be careful with blue diamonds.