When Hong Kong millionaire Tiffany Chen revealed last month she had paid US$11.15 million for what Christie's auction house calls "the largest and most perfect briolette diamond ever sold at auction", it signaled a trend among the world's ultra net worth (UHNW) individuals: investing in diamonds makes more sense than stocks and gold.
UHNW investors and gem collectors are investing in diamonds as a secure and lucrative asset in the current low-interest, uncertain financial climate, according to Wealth-X, the UHNW business development solution for private banks, luxury brands, educational institutions and non-profits, which has released a list of the world's most avid billionaire collectors based on net worth.
"Based on our data, we expect the UHNW population, particularly in countries such as diamond-hungry China and India, to accelerate," Wealth-X CEO Mykolas D. Rambus said. "This can only mean one thing for diamonds as an investment of choice among UHNW individuals: They have a sparkling future."
Rough diamond prices have increased by nearly a third since 2005 and are likely to rise a further 20 percent between 2013 and 2017, bolstered by demand from China and India.
Hong Kong billionaire Yu Tung Cheng, honorary chairman of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, is the wealthiest billionaire diamond collector with a net worth of US$19.6 billion. In 2010, he paid US$35.3 million for a 507-carat diamond, a record sum for a rough diamond. Since Cheng made his fortune through diamonds and other gems, he has named his racing horses "King of Diamond" and "God of Diamond".
Others in the list include Nicky Oppenheimer, who owns Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa's largest private game reserve. He ranks at number 2 with a net worth of US$6 billion. British billionaire Laurence Graff comes in at 5thplace with a net worth of US$2.1 billion. Graff, who founded high-end jeweller Graff Diamonds in 1960, has seen his business empire expand with at least 32 stores worldwide.
The continuation of the list are the following: