Ruby, Sapphire & Spinel Auction Records • Under the Hammer • Lotus Gemology

by Richard W. Hughes
Under the Hammer  |  Ruby & Sapphire Auction Records

World auction records for ruby, sapphire and spinel.

In the world of precious stones, it is common to reference auction prices. Not because they represent the highest prices paid, for they don’t; the finest gems generally trade hands in private sales at prices above the auction market. We reference them because the auction scene is an open reflection of the world gem market. 

Unlike real estate, gems can and do travel, and therefore have a worldwide value. While auction prices do not always accurately reflect the market (due to bidding wars, etc.), they are public, and thus useful for those wishing to better understand prices. But they are not the only tool. Prospective buyers should not just visit auctions, but also the offices of dealers and jewelers. Dip your spoons into as many bowls as possible. In this way readers will begin to develop a taste for pricing.

What follows is a listing of auction price records for ruby and sapphire. We started tracking this data in the mid-1990's while working on Ruby & Sapphire (1997) and have continued to maintain it at Ruby-Sapphire.com, including information with our latest book Ruby & Sapphire: A Collector's Guide (2014). Unless stated otherwise, all prices are US dollars.

 

ruby and sapphire auction records

Per carat auction records for ruby and sapphire as of October 2015. Click on the diagram for a larger image.

Ruby ring

In 2012, this 32.08 ct Burmese ruby ring by Chaumet sold for a spectacular US$6,736,750, or $209,998/ct, then a total price world ruby auction record. Image © Christie’s

Ruby ring

This 8.62 ct Burmese ruby ring by Graff sold for US$8.57 million ($994,040/ct) at Sotheby's Geneva on 12 November, 2014, then a total price world ruby auction record. Image © Sotheby's

Sunrise ruby

The Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59 ct Burmese ruby ring by Cartier sold for US$32.42 million ($1,266,901/ct) at Sotheby's Geneva on 12 May, 2015, a per carat and total price world ruby auction record. It currently holds the title as the most expensive colored gemstone in the world. Image © Sotheby's

Ruby Auction Records (in US$)

Name, weight & description Sale Location Price realized Origin Reference
Sunrise Ruby
25.59 ct; faceted, cushion shape; Cartier ring.
Auction record per carat and total price for a single ruby
Sotheby's Geneva (Lot 502)
12 May 2015
$32,420,000 total
$1,266,901/ct
Burma Sotheby's, 2015
Unnamed
19.53 ct; oval star ruby cabochon; Etcetera ring.
Auction record per carat and total price for a single star ruby
Christie's Hong Kong (Lot 1791)
27 Nov 2012.
$1,247,412 total
$63,871/ct
Burma Christie’s, 2012

 

Auction records (per ct) for ruby from 1979 through May 2015.

 

Rockefeller Sapphire

At 62.02 ct, the Rockefeller Sapphire hails from Myanmar's Mogok Stone Tract. It sold at Christie's NYC 11 April, 2001 sale for $3,031,000 ($48,871/ct), at the time both a per carat and total auction record for sapphire. Image © Christie's

Imperial Sapphire

The "Jewel of Kashmir," a magnificent 27.68 ct sapphire set a new per carat auction record for sapphire on 7 October 2015, when it sold for $6,745,688 ($243,703/ct) at Sotheby's Hong Kong. Image © Sotheby's

 

Weighing in at a massive 392.52 ct, the Blue Belle of Asia set a new auction record total price for sapphire, being hammered down at US$17,295,796 at Christie's Geneva's 11 November 2014 sale.  Image © Christie's

Sapphire Auction Records

Name, weight & description Sale Location Price Realized Origin Reference
Blue Belle of Asia
392.52 ct; faceted, cushion shape; necklace.
Auction record total price for sapphire of any origin and total price record for a single Ceylon sapphire
Christie's Geneva (Lot 348)
11 Nov. 2014
$17,295,796 total
$44,063/ct
Ceylon Christie's, 2014
Unnamed
35.09 ct; faceted, cushion shape; ring.
Auction record total price for a single Kashmir sapphire
Christie's Geneva (Lot 351) 13 May 2015 $7,398,522 total
$209,689/ct
Kashmir Christie's, 2015
Jewel of Kashmir
27.68 ct; faceted, octagonal shape; ring.
Auction record per carat price for a single sapphire of any origin and per carat price for Kashmir sapphire
Sotheby's Hong Kong (Lot 1860) 7 Oct. 2015 $6,745,688 total
$243,703/ct
Kashmir Sotheby's, 2015
Unnamed
130.50 ct; faceted, cushion shape; brooch.
Auction record total price and per carat price for a single Burmese sapphire
Christie's Geneva (Lot 321)
18 May 2011
$7,127,453 total
$54,616/ct
Burma Christie's, 2011
Unnamed
25.87 ct; sugarloaf cabochon; cushion shape; ring. 
Auction record per carat price for a single cabochon sapphire
Sotheby's New York (Lot 488)
9 Dec. 2015
$5,122,000 total
$197,990/ct
Kashmir Sotheby's, 2015

Sapphire auction records from 1979 through 2015.

Sapphire auction records from 1979 through 2015.

 

Padparadscha ring

In 2005, this 20.84-carat padparadscha sapphire fetched US$18,000 per carat at auction. Image © 2005 Christie’s 

Padparadscha Sapphire Auction Records

Name, weight & description Sale Location Price realized Origin Reference
Unnamed
14.65 ct; faceted; cushion shape; Etcetera ring.
Auction record per carat price for a single padparadscha sapphire.
 
Christie's Hong Kong (Lot 2720)
29 Nov. 2011
$775,951 total
$52,966/ct
Sri Lanka Christie's, 2011

Spinel Auction Records

Sadly there is not a lot of information on spinel auction records, since so few of these gems end up at auction. Thus what follows should be regarded as a work-in-progress.

Name, weight & description Sale Location Price Realized Origin Reference
Hope Spinel
50.13 ct; set in a brooch/pendant.
Auction record per carat price for spinel.
Bonham's London (Lot 146)
24 Sept 2015

£962,500 ($1,464,661) total
$29,217/ct

Tajikistan Bonhams,2015
Unnamed
11 polished and drilled beads weighing 1,131.59 ct total; three pieces engraved; set in a gold necklace.
Auction record total price for spinel jewelry.
Christie's Hong Kong
(Lot 306)
18 May 2015
$5,214,348 total Tajikistan Christie's, 2011

On 24 September 2015, the Hope Spinel sold for $1,464,661 ($29,217/ct), a new auction per carat record for spinel.

On 24 September 2015, the Hope Spinel sold for $1,464,661 ($29,217/ct), a new auction per carat record for spinel. Image © Bonhams. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Mughal spinel necklace

The highest total price ever paid for spinel jewelry was for this Imperial Mughal necklace, which sold in 2011 for a princely US$5,214,348. Image © Christie’s

 

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