Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau forked out $77 million at two different auctions this week for a couple of large and rare coloured diamonds sold at record prices.
The tycoon first acquired the “Blue Moon” diamond, weighing 12.03 carats, in Geneva. Lau paid Sotheby’s $48.5 million for it, which is the highest price paid at auction for any gemstone and the highest per-carat price, surpassing $4m per carat for the first time, according to the auction house.
Sotheby’s said the buyer, who bought the diamond for his 7-year-old daughter Josephine, promptly renamed it after her. The stone is now known as “The Blue Moon of Josephine.”
Lau was also the buyer of a 16.08-carat vivid pink diamond that went under Christie’s hammer the night before. He paid $28.5 million, a record price for a pink stone, and renamed it “Sweet Josephine.”
The record figures contrast sharply with the challenges currently affecting large parts of the diamond chain. Dealers are facing difficulties to sell their existing inventory into softening markets, while also facing tougher financing conditions.
At the same time, major players such as Anglo American-owned De Beers, the world’s No.1 diamond producer, are finding it difficult to place expected volumes of rough stones with traders and polishers.
And even Russia’s Alrosa, the world’s top diamond producer by output in carats, said last month it was able to sell only 42% of the precious stones it mined in the quarter ending in September.
Lau’s love for diamonds, and his daughter, is well known. Back in 2009, he acquired a 7.03-carat blue diamond for $9.48 million and named it “The Star of Josephine.”
According to Forbes, Lau is the 114th richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion.
All images courtesy of Sotheby’s and Christie’s.