An exceptionally rare pink diamond of nearly 19 carats fetched $50 million at an auction in Geneva on Tuesday, 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.
“$2.6 million per carat. That is a world record per carat for a pink diamond,” said Francois Curiel, head of Christie’s in Europe, of the price that included all fees and commissions.
“This stone is for me the Leonardo da Vinci of diamonds.”
The 18.96-carat diamond was discovered in a South African mine around a century ago, Christie’s said. It was probably cut in the 1920s and has not been altered since.
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 colour 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 2% 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”.
The Pink Legacy’s record-smashing price accounted for nearly half the takings at Tuesday’s auction, which saw total sales of more than $110 million, according to Christie’s spokesperson Alexandra Kindermann.
While 86% of the lots found a buyer, a big heart-shaped white diamond of 53 carats, expected to fetch around $3 million to $5 million, went unsold.
Another Geneva auction is set cause a buzz on Wednesday 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