Jewelry

The Five Most Expensive Diamond Rings

By Catherine Kim
Shop Diamond Rings , Available for Immediate Purchase
Fancy Pink Diamond Ring

Brief History of Diamonds

Diamonds have a long history as objects of desire. Historians estimate that India was trading in diamonds as early as the fourth century BC. By the 1400s diamonds were becoming fashionable to wear by the European elite. Up until the mid 1800s, diamonds were very rare and only the very wealthy had access to them. The modern diamond market began with the 1866 discovery of diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa when . Cecil Rhodes established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888 and by 1900, De Beers controlled 90% of the world's rough diamond production. In 1927, Ernest Oppenheimer became the chairman of the board of De Deers. A world wide decline in diamond prices began soon after in the 1930s. In response to this decline Oppenheimer created one of the most successful marketing campaigns that has endured to this day. Diamonds became a symbol of love with the 1947 marketing campaign "A diamond is forever".

Blue Diamonds

Coloured diamonds have always held a fascination with the beholder and throughout time people have been transfixed by their beauty. The ‘Hope Diamond’ a 45-carat blue diamond has boasted of countless patrons such as King Louis XIV, Evalyn Walsh McLean and Harry Winston, all of whom were drawn to its innate beauty. Voted as the favourite colour of both men and women worldwide, blue has been “frequently associated by literary texts with the idea of joy, love, loyalty, peace and comfort” as says colour historian Michel Pastoureau (in Blue: The History of a Colour, 3 April 2002, Princeton University Press). The formation of a blue diamond takes place far beneath the depth of the earth’s mantle. The rare occurrence which determines whether a diamond shows any colour is due to a disturbance in the crystal lattice. Diamonds are composed of pure carbon and if there are trace elements of boron present in this lattice then the diamond can show varying shades of blue. Colour is the most important quality for a fancy coloured diamond, and it is only when there is enough boron in the stone that the diamond exhibits a strong enough colour which allows it to be called a ‘Vivid’.

At the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) diamonds are graded for the intensity of their colour and only those with the strongest saturation are determined to be ‘Vivid’ in colour. For blue diamonds this is so rare that of all the blue diamonds submitted to the GIA less than 1% of those stones are found to be ‘Vivid’ in colour. Even rarer is to find a coloured diamond which does not have a secondary colour present, as coloured diamonds may often have a tint of another colour.

Pink Diamonds

The exact cause of the color in pink diamonds is still not fully understood, further adding to their allure. There is no evidence that the coloration is due to a specific trace element such as nitrogen in yellow diamonds or boron in blue diamonds. Early research suggested that manganese might be responsible for the pink hue, but this was ruled out after further investigation. The best explanation available today is that the color is the result of stress at the atomic level. Diamonds form deep within the earth’s mantle, where intensely high pressures and temperatures compress carbon atoms into a strong crystal lattice structure. Powerful volcanic eruptions displace these diamonds and bring them up into the earth’s crust where they may remain for millions of years before erosion washes them into waterways or they are excavated by miners.

Of all the diamonds submitted to the GIA, less than 3% are classified as colored diamonds, and less than 5% of those are considered predominantly pink. Most of these diamonds fall within the Faint to Fancy color grades and are small in size. In 2018, the GIA selected a sample of 1,000 pink diamonds graded between 2008 and 2016 and found that 83% weighed less than one carat.

Sotheby's Diamond Rings

Diamond rings are always included in the most expensive jewelry sold at Sotheby's with colored diamond rings topping the charts year after year. In 2023, Sotheby's sold over 25 diamond rings priced over $1M for a total value of over $130 million. The most expensive diamond rings were of course the rarest diamonds including fancy vivid pink and fancy vivid blue diamond rings in 2023.

Below we take a closer look at five of the most expensive diamond rings sold in 2023 at Sotheby's.

Most Expensive Diamond Ring of 2023

1. Eternal Pink Diamond Ring $34.8 million

The most expensive diamond ring sold for $34.8 million in 2023 at Sotheby's. The Eternal Pink Diamond Ring is Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond weighing 10.57 carats and flanked by trapezoid-shaped diamonds. Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink, Natural color is Internally Flawless clarity. The diamond has been determined to be Type IIa, a special letter from the GIA attesting to the rarity and intense degree of saturation of the diamond and a GIA monograph detailing the mining, cutting and grading of the diamond and describing it as "a stunning specimen; one of nature's great wonders transformed through artistry and ingenuity."

Of the great storied diamonds of history, only a few have been pink, and these have always been highly treasured. The Agra, the Regent, the Williamson Pink and the Darya-i-Noor were among the most prized possessions of great rulers. The GIA’s monograph on the Eternal Pink diamond notes that its rarity is “difficult to overstate.” With its remarkable Fancy Vivid Purplish-Pink color, Internally Flawless clarity and impressive 10.57 carat weight, the Eternal Pink is arguably the most important pink diamond ever to appear at auction. Pink diamonds have always been scarce, but the recent closure of the Argyle mine in Australia has made the future availability of newly-mined pink diamonds a matter of uncertainty. In its letter accompanying the diamond report for the Eternal Pink, the GIA states, “Purplish pink diamonds with this level of saturation or intensity have typically been confined to diamonds found in the now closed Argyle mine in Australia. The contrast is that the Argyle diamonds rarely weighed more than one carat.”

Diacore has crafted some of the world’s most stunning and important diamonds, including the Williamson Pink Star, the De Beers Blue and the CTF Pink Star. The Eternal Pink is the company’s most recent creation to come to auction. The diamond was discovered in 2020 at the Damtshaa mine in Botswana. The rough weighed 23.78 carats and was carefully cut in Diacore’s New York City facility over a period of six months. The resulting shape, an elegant mixed cushion-cut, optimizes the stone’s astonishing color and gives it a remarkable brilliance.

Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond and Diamond Ring

2. Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Ring $25.8 million

The second most expensive diamond ring sold for $25.8 million in 2023 at Sotheby's. The fancy vivid blue diamond ring has a radiant-cut fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 11.28 carats. It is also embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds and diamonds of pink tint, mounted in 18 karat white and pink gold. The diamond is Fancy Vivid Blue, Natural Colour, VS2 Clarity; also accompanied by a diamond type classification report stating that the diamond is determined to be a Type IIb diamond.Further accompanied by a separate monograph expressing the rarity and the characteristics of the stone, as well as a letter stating that ‘...To say the Infinite Blue is special cannot be overstated. The odds of finding a blue diamond is of the topmost rarity. This glorious and notable diamond is an example of what can occur when nature leads the way and humankind embraces the earth’s treasures—producing a gem of spirited light performance.’

Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Ring

3. Laguna Blu Diamond Ring $25.7 million

The third most expensive diamond ring sold for $25.7 million in 2023 at Sotheby's. The exceptional and rare fancy vivid blue diamond ring or Laguna Blu is mounted in a Bulgari setting. The center diamond is a fancy vivid blue, Natural Colour, VS1 Clarity and has a type IIb classification letter.

As one of the world’s distinguished jewelry houses, Bulgari holds a place in history as a paragon of superb craftsmanship and style. Bulgari creations feature some of the most prestigious gemstones ever discovered and it is no wonder that Giorgio Bulgari, a connoisseur in coloured diamonds, was eager to own this stone. It was not long after its acquisition that another distinguished collector who also had an eye for diamonds of unsurpassed quality purchased this diamond as a ring from Bulgari and has remained in this collection ever since, now offered for the first time at auction. Giorgio Bulgari (1890 – 1966), son of founder Sotirio Bulgari, was the first member of the Bulgari family to introduce colored diamonds.

A diamond of this quality and size is a rare find and an extraordinary treasure to behold. The richness of its color and its unique blue hue are mesmerizing. The classic unmodified pear-shape cut is also highly desired by connoisseurs today. Alongside the superior qualities of this natural treasure, what makes this 11.16 carat diamond so spectacular is the accompanying mount created by Bulgari. The 11.16 carat blue diamond was recently worn by celebrated actress and Bulgari Ambassador, Priyanka Chopra Jones at New York’s Met Gala. It was showcased mounted on a necklace inspired by bay laurel wreaths worn by Greco-Roman Emperors – a bespoke creation by Bulgari crafted especially for the occasion.

Fancy Intense Pink Diamond Ring

4. Fancy Intense Pink Diamond Ring $11.8 million

The fourth most expensive diamond ring sold for $11.8 million in 2023 at Sotheby's. The diamond ring features a fancy intense pink center diamond weighing 21.94 carats with fancy deep grayish blue diamond shoulders weighing 0.51 and 0.46 carat and a mount enhanced with brilliant-cut diamonds. The center diamond is Fancy Intense Pink, Natural Colour, VVS2 Clarity. The side diamonds weighing 0.51 and 0.46 carat, are Fancy Deep Grayish Blue, Natural Colour, VS2 and SI1 Clarity.

Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond Ring

5. Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink Diamond Ring $6.4 million

The fifth most expensive diamond ring sold for $6.4 million in 2023 at Sotheby's. The diamond ring is set with a round-cornered rectangular modified brilliant-cut fancy vivid purplish pink diamond weighing 5.01 carats. The seamless mount set with fancy-shaped diamonds, further enhanced with brilliant-cut diamonds. The center diamond is Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink, Natural Colour, VS2 Clarity. The remaining diamonds stated to weigh a total of approximately 2.90 carats, on average D-F colour, VVS-VS clarity.

Buying or Selling Diamond Rings

While all of these incredible diamonds rings are no longer available, Sotheby's has exceptional diamonds rings available at auction and buy now marketplace. Sotheby's Specialists are always sourcing and consigning additional diamonds rings so make sure to check back for additional styles. You can also contact a Jewelry Specialist if you would like to sell a diamond ring in our next auction or buy now marketplace. Sotheby's has a range of diamond rings, including engagement, wedding/eternity bands and diamond cocktail rings. We have specialists ready to help source a spectacular engagement ring in a fancy colored diamond or rare flawless and colorless stone ring.

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