The top jewelry lot was a pair of marquise-shaped D-color flawless diamond earrings, weighing 16.58 carats in total, which fetched HK$13 million. Diamonds graded D are considered colorless; a carat is one-fifth of a gram.
Sotheby’s said mainland Chinese clients were among the top buyers. Of the 10 priciest watches sold, four went to Chinese bidders, said Vanessa Herrera, head of the watch department.
“We saw a number of new buyers from mainland China, many of whom were transacting at levels that we have not seen,” Quek Chin Yeow, Sotheby’s head of jewelry department and the deputy chairman for Asia, said in a statement.
Diamonds outshone jadeite, which doesn’t have an established resale market. Competition was especially fierce for diamonds of 5 carats or larger with few flaws.
The sale continues today with the auction of Chinese ceramics and other artifacts, including an 8th-century tortoiseshell vanity box given to Japan’s Emperor Shomu that’s expected by Sotheby’s to fetch more than HK$40 million.
Sotheby’s buyer’s commission is 25 percent of the hammer price for the first HK$400,000, 20 percent for between HK$400,001 and HK$8 million, and 12 percent above that.