Strong Diamond Market Prompts Sotheby’s to Offer 101.38-Carat Stone for Purchase With Cryptocurrency

Sotheby’s is keeping up with the times and will be the first auctioneer to offer a massive diamond for sale that can be purchased with cryptocurrency.

The 101.38-carat pear-shaped flawless diamond is estimated to fetch between $10 million and $15 million — making it the most valuable object ever available for purchase with cryptocurrency. The auctioneer will, of course, accept traditional currency for the purchase as well.

The golf ball-sized diamond will feature in a live single-lot auction on July 9 as part of Sotheby’s first “Luxury Edit” series in Asia. Online bidding will start on June 25.

Sotheby’s said cryptocurrency has begun making an indelible “mark in the world of physical art and objects,” over the last few months. The auctioneer has partnered with Coinbase Commerce to facilitate the sale — which will accept both Bitcoin and Ether as tender.

Wenhao Yu, the deputy chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry for Asia, said: “This is a truly symbolic moment. The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency. Never was there a better moment to bring a world-class diamond such as this to the market.”

The white diamond market, particularly relating to stones of exceptional quality, is seeing strengthened demand. Sotheby’s said 80 percent of white diamonds offered through its Magnificent Jewels sales this year have found buyers, and 30 percent of its luxury sales buyers are new. Last week, a 50.03 round diamond became the most expensive stone ever sold via online auction — achieving a $2.7 million final gavel price.

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This is a stark contrast to the diamond market that Sotheby’s had encountered in years leading up to the pandemic. Cautious buyers and limp demand led the auction house to place a focus on important colored gemstones and colored diamonds. But even the latter sector sometimes came up empty.

In 2016, Sotheby’s went on a national press tour in the lead-up to the auction of a rare 9.54 fancy deep blue diamond ring that had once belonged to Shirley Temple. Despite appearances on morning talk shows and national news networks, the hotly anticipated sale (then estimated to fetch between $25 million and $35 million) failed to find a buyer. 

But now following a correction in the market and new demand, Sotheby’s is again betting big on diamonds — with a particular focus on the Asian market.

Sotheby’s managing director of its global luxury division, Josh Pullan, said: “Over the past year, we’ve seen a voracious appetite for jewels and other luxury items from collectors across the globe. Increasingly, that demand is coming from a younger, digitally native generation; many of whom are in Asia. We’re thrilled to present this exceptional diamond as the highlight of our cross-category Luxury Edit series in Hong Kong and to continue our commitment to innovation by accepting payment in cryptocurrency for this landmark item.”

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