The Spectacular 88.22-Carat Oval Diamond

By  | 

Perfect according to Every Critical Criterion
One of only three Oval Diamonds over 50 Carats
to appear at Auction in Living Memory
– A Masterpiece Elevating Diamonds to the Level of Art –

The stone will lead Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite
on 2 April 2019

The 88.22-carat, D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa, Oval Brilliant Diamond
Est. HK$88-100 million / US$11.2-12.7 million

Hong Kong, 19 February 2019 – Prized by kings and queens for centuries and across civilisations, coveted by tycoons and moguls of the 20th century, exceptional large diamonds have become the ultimate collectibles for modern day connoisseurs. This spring, a spectacular 88.22-carat, D Colour, Flawless, Type Ila, oval brilliant diamond, perfect according to every critical criterion, will lead Sotheby’s Hong Kong Sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite on 2 April 2019 (est. HK$88 – 100 million / US$11.2 – 12.7 million). This is one of only three oval diamonds of over 50 carats to appear at auction in living memory, and the largest to be auctioned in over five years**.

Patti Wong, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, said: “When you think that one ton of mined earth yields less than a carat of diamond, and that high quality diamonds over 10 carats are a rarity, the discovery of a 242-carat rough, of gem quality and exceptional size, is nothing short of a miracle. The perfect 88.22-carat diamond is a summary of everything: a wonder of nature, a masterpiece resulting from man’s ability to shape the hardest material on earth into an object of ultimate beauty and the most concentrated form of wealth, as stated by Pliny the Elder almost 2000 years ago. Sotheby’s Hong Kong has had the privilege to bring to the market some of the most important colourless diamonds in the past decade and we look forward to presenting this treasure to the world.”

“Diamond is the most valuable, not only of precious things, but of all things in the world”
Pliny the Elder, 1st Century AD

Describing the stone, David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman, International Jewellery Division, said: “For those who have had the chance to see the diamond, one adjective comes back: “breathtaking”. Barely any diamonds of this weight are known to possess the same exceptional qualities of purity and perfection as this remarkable stone which is so full of fire and blinding brilliance.”


A Perfect Stone

Perfect according to every critical criterion, the diamond has achieved the highest rankings under each of the standards by which the quality of a stone is judged (‘the four Cs’). The diamond is D colour (the highest grade for a white diamond); of exceptional clarity (it is completely flawless, both internally and externally), and has excellent polish and symmetry.

As with the Koh-i-noor diamond (also oval) and the Cullinan I, which are part of the British Crown Jewels, the stone belongs to the rare subgroup comprising less than 2% of all gem diamonds, known as Type IIa*. Diamonds in this group are the most chemically pure type of diamond and often have exceptional optical transparency.

A Masterpiece of Nature, brought to Life by Human Hand

Finding a rough diamond that allows the cutter to fashion a stone of over 80 carats is a true and very rare discovery. The 242-carat rough stone which yielded the diamond was discovered in Botswana in the mine of Jwaneng, a mine owned in partnership by De Beers and the government of Botswana and known for producing roughs of the highest quality.

Following its discovery, the rough was cut and polished over a period of intense months to produce a symmetrical and striking oval brilliant diamond. Given the elongated shape of the rough the oval shape was chosen to preserve the greatest amount of weight. Great skill and precision was needed to cut a stone of this importance – a level of expertise and craftsmanship possessed by only a small handful of cutters in the world.

88 – A Lucky Number

A symbol of perfection and eternity, often associated with prosperity, the number eight is considered a lucky number in China and other Asian cultures. The Chinese pronunciation of 8 (bā), similar to that of (fā) meaning wealth or fortune, is welcomed as a blessing of affluence. In its duality – 88 – it is believed to bring good wishes in abundance. There is also a visual resemblance between 88 and (literally: “double joy”), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters (“joy”).

The Market for Exceptional Large White diamonds

Sotheby’s has been at the forefront of selling notable white diamonds of impressive size and superb quality (see list below). The appearance of the 88.22-carat diamond follows a series of landmark sales for ultra-rare white diamonds last year. In April 2018, a private collector acquired – through Sotheby’s Diamonds, a retail boutique specialising in the world’s finest diamonds – an extraordinarily rare 102.34-carat white diamond – the only known round brilliant diamond over 100 carats to have achieved perfection by all critical criteria: colour, clarity, cut & carat.

A month later, in a Geneva auction, two highly impressive white diamonds, also D Colour Flawless and Type IIa – a 51.71-carat round diamond and a 50.39-carat oval diamond – sold above their high estimate for US$9.3 million and US$8.1 million respectively.


Diamonds are one of the earth’s greatest treasures. Formed billions of years ago, they are nearly as old as the earth itself. In terms of their chemical composition, they fall into two main “types” – type I and type II – based on the presence or absence of nitrogen which can replace carbon atoms in a diamond’s atomic structure. These two diamond types can be distinguished on the basis of differences in their chemical and physical properties. Type II diamonds contain little if any nitrogen (IIa and IIb) both of which are extremely rare (less than 2% of all gem diamonds).

Type IIa diamonds are the most chemically pure type of diamond and often have exceptional optical transparency. They were first identified as originating from India (particularly from the Golconda region) but have since been discovered in all major diamond-producing regions of the world (Source: Gemological Institute of America).


Oval diamond weighing 118.28 carats
D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa
Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013
Sold for US$30.8 million
Price per carat US$260,252
World record price per carat for a white diamond

Oval diamond weighing 50.39 carats
D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa
Sotheby’s Geneva, May 2018
Sold for US$8.1 million
Price per carat ($161,219 per carat)


Rectangular diamond weighing 163.41 carats
D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa
Christie’s Geneva, November 2017
Sold for US$33.7 million
Price per carat US$206,266

Oval diamond weighing 118.28 carats
D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa
Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013
Sold for US$30.8 million
Price per carat US$260,252

World record price per carat for a white diamond

‘The Mouawad Splendour’
Modified pear-shaped diamond weighing 101.84 carats
D Colour, Internally Flawless
Sotheby’s Geneva, November 1990
Sold US$12.8 million
Price per carat US$125,295

‘The Winston Legacy’
Pear-shaped diamond weighing 101.73 carats
D Colour, Flawless, Type IIa
Christie’s Geneva, May 2013
Sold for US$26.8 million
Price per carat US$254,400

‘The Star of Happiness’
Step-cut diamond weighing 100.36 carats
D Colour, Internally Flawless
Sotheby’s Geneva, November 1993
Sold US$11.9 million
Price per carat US$118,397

‘The Ultimate Emerald-cut’
Step-cut diamond weighing 100.20 carats
D Colour, Internally Flawless, Type IIa
Sotheby’s New York, April 2015
Sold for US$22.1 million
Price per carat US$220,459

‘The Star of the Season’
Pear-shaped diamond weighing 100.10 carats
D Colour, Internally Flawless
Sotheby’s Geneva, May 1995
Sold for US$16.4 million
Price per carat US$164,223

The Chloe Diamond
Brilliant-cut diamond weighing 84.37 carats
D colour, Flawless, Triple-X
Sotheby’s Geneva, November 2007
Sold for US$16.2 million
Price per carat US$191,980


Instagram: and
Snapchat ID: sothebys
WeChat ID: sothebyshongkong

Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris, and Sotheby’s BidNow program allows visitors to view all auctions live online and place bids from anywhere in the world. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as the collection advisory services of its subsidiary, Art Agency, Partners. Sotheby’s presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including S|2, the gallery arm of Sotheby’s Global Fine Art Division, and two retail businesses, Sotheby’s Diamonds and Sotheby’s Wine. Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and is the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (BID).


*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

Browse sale catalogues, view original content, stream live auctions and more at, and through Sotheby’s apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Apple TV and Amazon

Discover more from The Global Zambian Magazine

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Discover more from The Global Zambian Magazine

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading