A five-minute telephonic tussle on April 4, 2017, which included three bidders calling into the auction room at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, ended when Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook bought a 59.6-carat pink diamond, fittingly called the Pink Star, for about $71 million. It was the highest price ever paid for any gemstone on public sale.
So ended an unusual saga, which had begun at Sotheby’s in Geneva in 2013, when the same diamond sold to a New York dealer for $83 million. It not only broke a world record, or so it was believed, but it was the third most expensive item sold anywhere at auction that year. But the buyer failed to come up with the cash, and Sotheby’s, which had guaranteed the sale, was forced to pay the owner and put the stone in its vault for safekeeping.
Today, the Pink Star, which incidentally was the largest internally flawless fancy vivid pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America, has been renamed the CTF Pink, and it is being used commemorate Chow Tai Fook’s 88th anniversary. The stone, which was mined by De Beers in Botswana, and initially named the Steinmetz Pink after the company that took two years to cut it, was first worn in public at the 2003 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix by Danish model Helena Christensen.
The 59.6-carat CTF Pink, which when it was bought as the Pink Star at Sotheby’s in April 2017 for $71 million, became the highest priced gem ever sold.
There are probably no gemstones that more effectively capture the public imagination than pink fancy colored diamonds, and they have done so for centuries. The Daria-i-Noor, for instance, a pale pink stone, is one of the most renowned. It weighs about 182 carats, and used to be part of the Iranian Crown Jewels before the Islamic Revolution in 1979. It is now believed to be held in of Central Bank of Iran in Tehran. Like the legendary Koh-i-Noor, it was mined at the Paritala-Kollur Mine in Andhra Pradesh, India.
In 1965, a Canadian team conducting research on the Iranian Crown Jewels came to the conclusion that that the Daria-i-Noor possibly had been part of an even larger large pink diamond described in a 1642 document by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. They surmised that stone it had been cut into two pieces, with the larger part becoming the Daria-i-Noor; and the smaller part, a 60-carat stone, which was cut into the Noor-ul-Ain diamond, which was the centerpiece of a tiara, also among the Iranian Crown Jewels.
The fourth largest pink diamond ever cut is reputed to be the 34.65-carat Princie Diamond, which was first discovered about 300 years ago in the Golconda mines in India. Christie’s auctioned it on April 16, 2013, and it fetched a when a price of $39.3 million.
Before the Pink Star took the title, the most expensive colored diamond ever sold was the Graff Pink, a 24.78-carat stone once owned by Harry Winston. The diamond, which was mounted in a ring, was sold by Sotheby’s auctioneers in Geneva, Switzerland on November 16, 2010, to diamond dealer Laurence Graff for $46 million. It was classified by the Gemological Institute of America as “fancy intense pink.”
The 24.78-carat Graff Pink, which sold at Sotheby’s in November 2010 for $46 million.
The 34.65-carat Princie Diamond, believed to the fourth largest pink diamond ever cut.
Pink diamonds come in a variety of different hues, generally which are a result of a secondary color. Pure pinks, in which there are no secondary color, are considered more valuable, but the range of hues that are seen include purples, browns, grays and orange. Intensities include Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid, Fancy Deep and Fancy Dark.
Unlike most fancy colored diamonds, where the color is result of the presence of additional elements in the molecular structure, such as nitrogen, boron or hydrogen, pink diamonds get their specific hue from a rare compression of the crystal’s internal structure, known as “plastic deformation.”
Fancy colored diamonds from the Argyle Mine’s 2014 pink diamond tender.
Argyle accounts for about 90 percent of the world’s pink diamond supply, of which only 20,000 carats are produced annually, less than 0.01 percent of global diamond production. An entire year’s worth of Argyle pink diamonds over half a carat could fit in the palm of one person’s hand.
MID House of Diamonds is of the world’s preeminent suppliers of loose fancy-colored diamonds, with a large and varied stock that includes pink stones. Because it is a world of which many diamond buyers are less familiar, with different pricing patterns and grading standards, MID invites you to speak with one of the fancy color experts on its team.