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Alien Bling: Black 555-carat Space Diamond Latest Big Rock at Auction

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Jan. 18 2022, Updated 2:01 p.m. ET

If the concept of owning a giant black diamond is alien to you, we may have the exact oddly specific rock that’s right up your alley. Sotheby’s Dubai has recently unveiled a rock that could be considered out of this world – and it’s going up for sale soon. A rare gem dubbed “The Enigma” by Sotheby’s has captivated the world, and we take a look at the upcoming sale as well as other big bling that has made it to auction over the years. 

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A 555.55-carat Space Diamond?

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The Enigma is a 555.55-carat black diamond that is believed to have come from outer space. The extraterrestrial object may have been created from a meteor impact or have been carried to Earth on a “diamond bearing” asteroid. It’s an extremely rare gem because of its size, and Sotheby’s predicts that it may fetch just shy of $7 million at auction.

CNN reports, “Black diamonds, also known as Carbonado diamonds, can be dated to between 2.6 to 3.8 billion years ago and have trace amounts of nitrogen and hydrogen — elements found in interstellar space. They also contain osbornite, a mineral present in meteorites.

Nikita Binani, a jewelry specialist at Sotheby’s in London, called the diamond ‘a true natural phenomenon.’

‘Its sale represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the rarest, billion-year-old cosmic wonders known to humankind,’ she said in press release Monday.”

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The shape of the gem was chosen as an homage to a Middle eastern palm symbol called a Hamsa, which is a sign of protection meaning “five.” Sotheby’s explains that the theme of five runs throughout the gem; both in its size of 555.55-carats as well as the fact that it has 55 facets. 

Bidding opens February 3 through 9, and they will be accepting cryptocurrency as part of the auction house’s new shift into the digital realm. 

History of Huge Diamond Sales

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Although The Enigma may be one of the flashiest and most captivating large rocks to go to auction in a long time, it’s neither the largest nor the most famous. Here’s a look back at the recent history for some of the biggest diamonds:

  • The Wynn Diamond: This one is a bit of a mystery. The 581-carat Wynn diamond is an alluvial diamond that was discovered in the Amazon basin in Brazil, back in 2002. The breathtaking gem is of superior quality with H colour, VS1 clarity and a 230-carat pear shape. Steve Wynn purchased it in 2007, Wynn of course being the mind behind some of the greatest properties in Los Vegas including Wynn Las Vegas. The gem was set into a stunning Cartier’s necklace, but that’s where the trail runs cold. Rumor has it that the diamond sold at auction in 2011 – but there’s no concrete proof, so it’s all speculation until the next time it surfaces.
  • The Peace Diamond: Named for the hope it brought to the community that sold it, the Peace diamond was a once-in-several-lifetimes discovery in Sierra Leone. Katerina Perez writes, “Many locals in Sierra Leone search for diamonds as a way to earn a meagre living and, in 2017, a team of artisanal diggers, hired by Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, struck gold in Koryardu, a village with no running water or electricity. Sifting through the grit and sand in a muddy mining pool, one of the miners happened upon a diamond that was so large no-one believed it could possibly be genuine. Measuring 2.5 inches wide by 1 inch deep, when it was confirmed that the yellow 709-carat diamond was indeed real, the pastor ignored offers to smuggle the stone out of Sierra Leone and instead took it straight to the government.” The government sold the massive stone to jeweler Lawrence Graff for $6.5M in 2017. 
  • Lesotho Legend Diamond: This 910-carat beauty came from the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, a Southern African country. This diamond’s owner is a mystery, as it was sold to an unnamed buyer for $40 million shortly after discovery in 2018. 
  • Sewelô Diamond: This beast is the second largest diamond in history, clocking in at 1,758-carat majesty. It was discovered in Botswana in 2019, and sold to Louis Vuitton in 2020 for an undisclosed “millions.” 
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A great debate rages about the ethics of diamond mining. It often occurs in places where workers are staggeringly poor and scrape for pennies while the corporations that claim the mines rake in millions for each significant find. The history of diamond mining in Africa is a long sad tale of exploitation and slave labor, but when countries like Sierra Leone use the proceeds to benefit the community that makes these important gem discoveries – it’s possible to turn the painful past into a hopeful future. 

Luckily for The Enigma, because it came from outer space – it’s relatively ethically sourced. Unless of course there’s an alien out there wondering where his favorite earring gem went. 

Sotheby’s In the News

Diamond

Sotheby’s is doing more than selling diamonds these days though. Recently the world-leading auction house has been making strides in going digital, starting to accept cryptocurrency and sell NFTs. This is itself a controversial move, given the divided opinion about NFTs and their place in art world. But Sotheby’s seems undeterred by detractors and is moving ahead with speed – as proven by their promise to accept cryptocurrency for the sale of The Enigma if the purchaser so chooses.

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Other big auctions are hitting the floor soon for Sotheby’s too, including the collection of legendary Couple François and Betty Catroux. François was a world-renowned designer and decorator, and Betty was a supermodel for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. The collection spans the 20th and 21st century contemporary artists from Asia and Africa, reflecting the tastes of the Catrouxs. 

Barron’s writes, “‘Here, works by great contemporary artists and cutting-edge designers mingled with timeless antiques that the decorator had treasured for his entire life,’ Florent Jeanniard, European head and vice president of Sotheby’s France, said in a news release.

Artists represented include 20th-century artists such as Luis Tomasello, Lucio Fontana, Tom Wesselman, Zoran Music, Victor Vasarely, Xavier Veilhan, Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau ; and contemporary designers such as Ron Arad, Ingo Maurer, Martin Szekely, Serge Manzon and Ettore Sottsass.”

The auction will take place February 24, with more details forthcoming. 

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