Sotheby’s Chooses Hong Kong For Auction Of Rare Blue Diamond As City Cements Status As One Of World’s Top Jewelry, Art Hubs
Earlier this week, Jing Daily wrote about the upcoming Sotheby’s art, wine and jewelry auctions, set to be held in Hong Kong from April 3-8. As we mentioned, one of the marquee items up for grabs will be a 5.16-carat blue diamond ring from the DeBeers Millennium collection. As the Financial Times points out today, the fact that this rare item is offered at auction in Asia rather than Europe or the US shows how much importance auction houses now place on Hong Kong — the gateway to buyers from all over Asia, but more specifically, to Chinese New Collectors.
From the FT:
The sale of the pear-shaped [blue diamond], estimated to fetch up to $5.8m (£3.8m, €4.3m) at auction, will add momentum to the diamond trade in Hong Kong, which now rivals that in New York and Geneva.
Hong Kong has benefited from the proximity of wealthy Chinese buyers and their growing purchases of diamonds, platinum and sapphires.
But Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said the auctioneer had persuaded the unidentified private owner to sell the diamond in Hong Kong because of the city’s increasingly wide appeal to jewelery buyers.
“In the past, people thought Hong Kong could only attract Asian buyers. It is totally not true. We have been drawing intense interest from international collectors as some of the best items are offered here,” said Ms Wong.
At Sotheby’s, Hong Kong’s share of international jewelery sales has jumped from 19 per cent in 1998 to 34 per cent in 2008, overtaking New York to be its second-biggest market after Geneva. For rival Christie’s, Hong Kong was the second-largest jewelery market last year, just after New York.
This article brings up some important developments that anyone interested in the auction world should keep an eye on: 1.) More non-Chinese buyers taking part in Hong Kong auctions, and 2.) Mainland collectors competing fiercely with Hong Kong collectors for diamonds and fine wine. Intense competition for these items is likely to become even more pronounced as Hong Kong becomes Asia’s de facto auction hub — as Terry Chu, deputy head of Sotheby’s jewelery department for China and Southeast Asia, told the AFP, diamonds are particularly appealing to new Asian buyers because of stable prices and assured quality.