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What’s the price of black diamonds? Sotheby’s ‘gem from space’ raises bar

Yasmine Leung January 18, 2022
Unveiling of 'The Enigma' - The Largest Known Cut Black Diamond in the World
Photo by Neville Hopwood/Getty Images for Sotheby's Dubai

Sotheby’s Dubai is set to debut its outer space black “Enigma” diamond in February 2022, so what’s the price of these gems normally?

An extremely rare black diamond, dubbed “The Enigma”, will hit the market in February.

Unveiled by auction house Sotheby’s Dubai, the natural 555.55-carat stone is believed to have extraterrestrial origins, which CNN reports to have been “created from a meteoric impact or a from a diamond-bearing asteroid that collided with Earth”.

Featuring 55 facets, the number five is an ongoing theme throughout the gem – the shape of the diamond is reportedly based on Islamic symbol Hamsa, an icon of protection. The term also means ‘five’ in Arabic.

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Black diamonds price explored

It is estimated The Enigma could sell for as much as $6.8 million USD (£5 million), while the auction house revealed faceted black diamonds have previously sold for more than $13,600 (£10,000) per carat.

Most black diamonds on the market are treated black diamonds, which means they have undergone a process – pressure, heat and irradiation treatments – to create a black hue.

Sotheby’s gem, however, is an untreated stone, making it a rarer commodity.

In 2001, the 33.74-carat Amsterdam Diamond was reportedly auctioned at Christie’s for $344,837, implying one carat was valued at $10,220.

There you have it – a one-carat black diamond is estimated to cost at least $10,000 USD.

What do they mean by it’s from ‘outer space’?

When it comes to Sotheby’s Enigma stone, rumours of an outer space origin is the most intriguing detail.

Common black diamonds are usually colourless diamonds that have many inclusions and fractures to often give a dull grey colour. After treatment, they become the ideal opaque black.

Sotheby’s gem, however, is speculated to be a carbonado diamond, which means it’s a natural diamond that got its dark colour through the creation process.

According to the Gemological Institute of America, carbonado stones contain large quantities of “graphite, pyrite and hematite”. The crystals are theorised to have been deposited on Earth via an asteroid, implying The Enigma is from outer space.

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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.