The priciest-ever online sale of a single diamond was completed last month — and the buyer believes he got a bargain on the gem.

A 59-year-old businessman from the Midwest bought a massive diamond online for $2.5 million in early October — breaking the previous online record set by a $2.1 million auction at Christies in 2020, according to experts.

The gem is so large – about the size of a quarter – that the buyer’s fiancee said it looked like a “ring pop.” Nevertheless, the 21-carat stone is a “rare,” “flawless” and “brilliant” round diamond, according to an appraisal by master gemologist Donald Palmieri, who examined it on behalf of the groom.

Palmieri examined the stone twice before it was placed in its platinum setting and after it was set for a final inspection. He gave it a $2.6 million valuation for insurance purposes, but said it might have sold for nearly $1 million more at a high-end jewelry brand.

The diamond ring next to a quarter.
Since the pandemic, more consumers feel comfortable purchasing expensive jewelry online.
Rare Carat

“This is an enormous sale that would normally take place in person,” Palmieri told The Post.

For his part, the buyer — a consumer-products executive who asked to be identified only by his first name, Mark — estimates that he saved at least $700,000 by buying the ring from an online seller called Rare Carat.

“I’m a guy who likes to find out that I bought something at a value and didn’t leave a bunch of money on the table,” he told The Post. 

Rare Carat handles fulfillment for some 150 wholesalers that are looking to become consumer brands, which removes a layer of markup, says its owner Ajay Anand. The six-year-old, New York-based firm doesn’t own inventory and is willing to take a lower profit margin than other retailers, Anand adds.

The diamond ring up close in a jewelry box.
The ring was delivered to the purchaser by an armed guard.
Rare Carat

Mark says he looked at one other competing online retailer and talked to several brick-and-mortar jewelry stores before settling on Rare Carat. He said he also spoke “many times” with Anand before he forked over the $2.5 million. He also had a friend in Manhattan inspect the ring in person at a jeweler in the Diamond District.

His friend weighed the rock and “looked at it through a microscope and satisfied my curiosity enough,” Mark said.

He and his bride were on a weekend getaway at a mountain retreat in Montana when the ring arrived at their hotel. An armed security guard drove there in an unmarked car and met him in a conference room to inspect the ring before he proposed.

The official appraisal.
A gemologist valued the stone at $2.6 million for insurance purposes.
Rare Carat

“After that, I knew I’d found the best value,” he said.

Six year-old Rare Carat has seen its average transaction rise to $4,508 this year from $3,520 in 2020, with revenues on track to reach $100 million this year, up from $40 million last year, according to Anand.

Online sales of jewelry have soared over the past several years, accounting for 25% of US sales last year versus 14% in 2015, with 54% of online purchases by first-time diamond buyers, according to new data from the De Beers Group, the world’s largest diamond company. 

Signet – owner of Zales and Kay Jewelers – said online sales accounted for 20% of its revenues in 2021, up from 8% in 2018. After physical stores closed during COVID, consumers became more comfortable buying expensive items online, experts say.

Mark said his fiancee will wear the ring on “special occasions.” When it’s not on her finger, it will be kept in a safety deposit box at his bank.

The diamond ring in a Rare Carat box.
Rare Carat is an online jewelry retailer that offers wholesale prices.
Rare Carat

“It’s almost obnoxious to wear a 21-carat stone,” he said. “It’s such a big ring, it’s almost like, ‘Are you kidding?’”

Mark, who says he works for a company that makes extracts from animal tissues that are used in consumer products, also sees the ring as an investment.

“Investment-grade diamonds have not gone down in value like the stock market,” he said. “It’s like our insurance policy.” 


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