'Incomparable' $50 mln pink diamond smashes record at Geneva auction
GENEVA – Agence France-Presse
An exceptionally rare pink diamond of nearly 19 carats fetched 50.3 million Swiss francs ($50 million, 44 million euros) at auction in Geneva on Nov. 13, Christie's said, setting a new per-carat record for a stone of its kind.
The Pink Legacy, which once belonged to the Oppenheimer family who for decades ran the De Beers diamond-mining company, was snapped up by American luxury brand Harry Winston, part of the Swiss Swatch group.
"This stone is for me the Leonardo da Vinci of diamonds."
The stone was immediately rechristened the "Winston Pink Legacy" by its buyers.
Christie's international head of jewellery, Rahul Kadakia, described it as "one of the world's greatest diamonds".
The rectangular-cut stone has been graded "fancy vivid" - the highest possible grade of colour intensity - as it has no trace of another hue like purple, orange or brown.
Most pink diamonds weigh less than one carat and those in the top color category with more than 10 carats are virtually unheard of at auction houses.
The Pink Legacy is classed as Type IIa, meaning it is extremely chemically pure, a category only two percent of diamonds fall into.
"These are stones that have little if any trace of nitrogen," said Kadakia, adding that this often gives Type IIa diamonds "exceptional transparency and brilliance".
"Imagine a domino that you have cut the corners off of," Jean-Marc Lunel, an international jewelry specialist at Christie's, recently told AFP, describing the stone's unusual shape.
He pointed out that the diamond has a "classical so-called emerald cut" - standing out from the typical cuts used today, which are more rounded and multi-faceted.
The classic rectangular cut is traditionally used for white stones, but is rare for pink diamonds.
"It is probably the most beautiful (specimen) ever presented at public auction," Lunel said.
One of them, the nearly 15-carat Pink Promise, was sold last November at a Christie's auction in Hong Kong for $32.5 million.
The Pink Legacy's record-smashing price accounted for nearly half the takings at the auction, which saw total sales of more than $110 million, according to Christie's spokeswoman Alexandra Kindermann.
While 86 percent of the lots found a buyer, a big heart-shaped white diamond of 53 carats, expected to fetch around $3 to 5 million, went unsold.
Another Geneva auction is set cause a buzz on Nov. 14 when Marie Antoinette's diamonds and pearls go under the hammer at Sotheby's.
The dazzling treasures, which have not been seen in public for two centuries, are part of a 100-piece collection held by the Italian royal House of Bourbon-Parma.