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Sotheby's to offer the most valuable earrings ever to appear at auction
The Apollo and Artemis Diamonds. Photo: Sotheby's.

GENEVA.- Sotheby’s spring sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels at Mandarin Oriental, Geneva will be led by the ‘Apollo and Artemis Diamonds’. Individually, these captivating diamonds – one Fancy Vivid Blue, one Fancy Intense Pink – are truly exceptional stones and when considered as a pair, they enter a class of their own: the most important earrings ever to appear at auction. Offered separately as individual lots, ‘The Apollo Blue’ will be presented with an estimate of $38 – 50 million (CHF 38.1 – 50.2m) and ‘The Artemis Pink’ is estimated between $12.5 – 18 million (CHF 12.5 – 18.1m).

Speaking ahead of the sale, David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division, said, “’The Apollo and Artemis Diamonds’ will be the stars of our May sale in Geneva – by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction. These exquisite coloured diamonds are enormously rare and each is a wonderful stone in its own right. Together, as a pair of earrings, they are breathtaking. We have named them after Apollo and Artemis, a twin brother and sister of great power and beauty who were among the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. These are diamonds of great distinction, with extraordinary presence, and we are honoured that Sotheby’s has been chosen to bring them to auction in May.”

The Apollo blue
Graded Fancy Vivid Blue by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and weighing an impressive 14.54 carats, the ‘Apollo Blue’ is the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Blue diamond ever to be offered at auction. It has been cut and polished into a beautiful unmodified pear-shape which flatters its exquisite and truly outstanding colour. The GIA has also determined that the ‘Apollo Blue’ is a Type IIb diamond – a group which contains less than one half of one per cent of all diamonds. The stone has had an auspicious start to its world tour, having already received many accolades on its exhibition in Hong Kong.

In recent times, the only mine to produce blue diamonds with any regularity is the Cullinan mine in South Africa. When in full production, less than 0.1% of diamonds sourced showed any evidence of blue colour, according to the GIA. An infinitesimally small percentage of those is graded Fancy Vivid Blue.

The ‘Apollo Blue’ will be offered as a single lot on 16 May with an estimate of $38 – 50 million (CHF38.1 – 50.2m).

The Artemis pink
The ‘Artemis Pink’ stands as an exquisite and rare treasure in its own right, displaying an elegant and delicate Fancy Intense Pink hue. Weighing 16 carats, the stone has been carefully cut into a captivating pear shape, matching the Apollo Blue, which perfectly showcases the stone’s colour and clarity. The GIA has declared the ‘Artemis Pink’ to be a ‘Type IIa’ diamond, describing this category as ‘the most chemically pure type’ of diamonds, which ‘often have exceptional optical transparency’.

The occurrence of pink diamonds remains exceedingly rare: according to the GIA, of all diamonds submitted to their specialists each year, ‘no more than 3% are classified as coloured diamonds; less than 5% of those coloured diamonds are predominantly pink’. Thus, a Fancy Intense Pink stone of such rich colour and impressive size can only be described as phenomenally rare.

The ‘Artemis Pink’ will be offered as a single lot on 16 May with an estimate of $12.5 – 18 million (CHF12.5 – 18.1m).

The myth of Apollo and Artemis
In Greek mythology, Leto (Latona in Latin), daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe, had a liaison with Zeus and became pregnant with twins. When Hera, wife of Zeus, discovered this, she forbade Leto from giving birth on terra firma, the mainland, any island or any place under the sun. Leto eventually found the barren floating island of Asterios, later named Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island, and gave birth there, promising the island wealth from the worshippers who would flock to the obscure birthplace of the splendid god who was to come. Leto gave birth to Artemis, the elder twin, without difficulty, but she laboured for nine nights and nine days with Apollo, according to Homer. In Greek and Roman mythology, diamonds were believed to be the tears of the gods.

Artemis, Diana for the Romans, became one of the most venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. She was the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls. Also referred to as the goddess of the moon, she was often depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrow, and deer and cypress were sacred to her.

Apollo is one of the most important of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros, he has been recognised as the god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, and poetry. In Hellenistic times, as Apollo Helios, he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon.

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