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In an unprecedented move, Sotheby's will be accepting cryptocurrency as payment for the 101.38-carat, pear-shaped, D-flawless diamond that will be hitting its auction block in Hong Kong on July 9.
The rare gem — dubbed "The Key 10138" — carries a pre-sale high estimate of $15 million and is only the second pear-shaped D-flawless diamond of more than 100 carats to ever appear at auction.
It will be offered in a single-lot live sale, with bidding available online starting June 25. While traditional payment methods will be available, the winning bidder will also have the option to use Ether or Bitcoin, facilitated through Coinbase Commerce, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
"This is a truly symbolic moment," noted Wenhao Yu, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Jewellery in Asia. "The most ancient and emblematic denominator of value can now, for the first time, be purchased using humanity’s newest universal currency. Never was there a better moment to bring a world-class diamond such as this to the market."
Sotheby's called the July 9 auction a "landmark event" not only because of the cryptocurrency option, but due to the extreme rarity of 100-plus-carat D-flawless diamonds being offered at auction. The number is fewer than 10, according to the auction house.
The gem's unusual name was chosen by Sotheby's to capture the past, present and future.
“Diamonds are keys to understanding the history of the Earth, reminding us of our human condition and the transcendental power of beauty," said Yu. "With the name ‘The Key 10138,’ we wanted to celebrate this enlightening virtue, while also alluding to the crucial function of digital keys in the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and cryptocurrency.”
The single-lot sale is part of Sotheby's cross-category Luxury Series in Hong Kong. Featured products will range from jewels and watches to handbags and rare sneakers.
"Over the past year we’ve seen a voracious appetite for jewels and other luxury items from collectors across the globe," said Josh Pullan, managing director of Sotheby's Global Luxury Division. "Increasingly that demand is coming from a younger, digitally native generation, many of whom are in Asia. We’re thrilled to present this exceptional diamond as the highlight of our cross-category Luxury Edit series in Hong Kong and to continue our commitment to innovation by accepting payment in cryptocurrency for this landmark item."
The 101.38-carat gem will be on display at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery from July 3 to 8.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.