World’s most expensive gemstones –

Gemstone prices at auction are ever on the up, with stones of all kinds attaining astonishingly high rates under the hammer. In May this year, the record-breaking price achieved by the Sunrise Ruby helped Sotheby’s Geneva’s Magnificent and Noble Jewels sale reach £103 million, setting a new record total for a jewellery auction. Coloured stones in particular are attracting attention with rubies and sapphires setting records, while pink diamonds are becoming ever more sought-after as supplies in Austrailia’s Argyle mine dwindle.

The sales success of exceptional gems can also in part be attributed to auction houses embracing the digital age. When Sotheby’s New York partnered with eBay for its Magnificent Jewels sale in April 2015 it achieved an in-house record, and most other major auctioneers now accept virtual bids, giving their base of potential buyers a real boost. But whatever the reason, it’s certainly an exciting time for fine jewellery’s most spectacular stones. We round up the record-breakers.

Named after a poem of the same name, the Sunrise Ruby sold at Sotheby’s in May 2015 for £19.6 million. The stone – a 25.59-carat Burmese ‘pigeon’s blood’ ruby mounted by Cartier – broke the world record, tripling the price of the previous record-holder the Graff Ruby. It also broke the world auction record for price per carat of any ruby and became the most expensive Cartier jewel ever auctioned.

Forming part of a diamond tassel necklace, the 392.52-carat Blue Belle of Asia cushion-shaped Ceylon sapphire surpassed estimations and set records when it sold for £11.52 million at Christie’s in November 2014.

Owned by Elizabeth Taylor and created by Bulgari, the world’s most expensive emerald is a Colombian 23.46-carat emerald which sold for £43 million at Christie’s New York in December 2011. The gem forms part of a brooch, which can be attached to a diamond and emerald necklace. It also set the record for the highest total price for a piece of Bulgari jewellery.

A traditionally lesser-loved stone, the spinel is fast capturing the attention of the contemporary fine jewellery market. The Hope Spinel sold for £962,500 at Bonhams in September 2015; a new world record for a spinel. The stone once belonged to famous gem collector Henry Philip Hope and had not been on sale for 98 years.

Pink diamond
Having taken 20 months to cut, the Pink Star or Pink Dream 59.60-carat Fancy Vivid pink diamond sold for a record £52 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2013, the highest price for any gem ever sold. However, the buyer, Isaac Wolf, defaulted on his payment leaving the stone to be added to Sotheby’s inventory. This means the record-holder for most expensive pink diamond remains the Graff Pink, a 24.78-carat diamond once owned by Harry Winston which sold for £29 million.

Blue diamond
The 9.75-carat Zoe Diamond, a Fancy Vivid blue diamond broke the record for the highest price for a blue diamond when it sold for £21.6 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2014.

Red diamond
The most rare of all coloured diamonds are red diamonds, so it’s no surprise that the heart-shaped 2.09-carat Fancy Red VS2 diamond by Moussaieff sold for a dazzling £3.4 million in November 2014 at Christie’s Hong Kong. This remains a record price for a red diamond both overall and per carat.

Yellow diamond
Graff stones frequently wow at auction and the 100.09-carat Graff Vivid Yellow was no exception. It sold for £10.8 million at Sotheby’s Geneva in May 2013 acquiring the record for the total price for a yellow diamond.

Orange diamond
At least three times larger than any other known stone of its type, The Orange, a 14.82-carat Fancy Vivid orange diamond sold for £23.35 million at Christie’s in November 2013. The diamond also set the record for total price for any orange diamond ever sold.

Perfect emerald-cut diamond
One of only five perfect diamonds to be sold at auction in the past 25 years, the 100-carat ‘Perfect Diamond’ sold for £9.2 million at Sotheby’s New York in April 2015. It is the largest perfect diamond with an emerald-cut to ever be sold at auction and fetched the highest price for any colourless diamond at a New York auction.

White diamond
The D Flawless Type IIa 118.28-carat brilliant-cut diamond holds the record for any white diamond sold at auction and is the biggest diamond ever sold at auction. On sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2013, it fetched £20 million.