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DIAMONDS AT AUCTION

“The Rock,” the largest white diamond to be auctioned, sold at Christie’s in Geneva on May 11 for $21.9 million. (Photo courtesy of Christie’s)

228.3-CARAT WHITE STONE AUCTIONED FOR $21.9 MILLION,
WELL SHORT OF THE HIGH END OF THE PRE-SALE ESTIMATE

 

While it fell short of the predicted high estimate, “The Rock,”which is the largest white diamond to ever come up for auction, sold at Christie’s in Geneva on May 11 for $21.9 million, or 21.7 million Swiss francs.

Pear-shaped and weighing 228.31-carats, about the size of an elongated golf ball, The Rock was cut from rough mined in South Africa, and was previously worn as a lavish Cartier necklace. Its new owner will also receive a round diamond and platinum pendant mounting from the French luxury brand.

Another member of the exclusive club, the 203.04-carat pear shaped Millennium Star, part of De Beers’ Millennium Collection that was unveiled in 1999.

The stone has been described by the Gemological Institute of America as G color, VS1 clarity, and was accompanied by a letter from GIA that stated categorically that it is the largest existing D-Z color pear-shaped diamond ever graded by the laboratory.

The bidding, which had started at 14 million francs, slowed to a halt after two minutes when it reached 18.6 million. The high price includes taxes and the buyer’s premium.

While it beat the lower pre-sales estimate of 19 million Swiss francs, the auction house had hoped that the diamond would bring in at least $30.2 million, or 30 million Swiss francs.

 

ENTERING AN EXCLUSIVE CLUB

In terms of total price paid, although not price per carat, this would have put it in the ballpark of the price paid for what has been previously held the record for the largest white diamond to be sold at auction, which was a 163.41-carat stone that sold for $33.7 million at Christie’s Geneva in November 2017.

Still, the Rock will take its place in the top ten largest white diamonds to exist, sharing that honor with the largest cut white diamond that exists, The Cullinan I, which sits on the Queen’s scepter in the British crown jewels. It weighs a mere 530 carats, and is the counterpart is set in  the royal crown, but that weighs a  considerably more modest 105 carats.

Among the other diamonds in that exclusive club are the 302.37-carat emerald cut Graff Lesedi, which is a largest diamond ever graded by GIA as being of highest color, D, and “highest clarity.” Another is the a 203.04-carat pear shaped Millennium Star, also graded as a flawless D  color, which was unveiled as part of De Beers’ Millennium Collection in 1999.

BENEFITING THE RED CROSS

The final lot in the Christies sale on May 11 was a diamond that was also larger than 200 carats, but of a different color.

Called the “The Red Cross Diamond,” the 205.07-carat fancy colored diamond had first sold at Christie’s over a century ago to help the British Red Cross during World War I. Estimated to sell for between $7 million and $10 million, it beat expectations, going for $14.3 million.

With a canary yellow color, graded as “fancy intense yellow,” the Red Cross Diamond was almost cut is an unconventional cushion shape with distinct pavilion faceting that looks like a perfect Maltese cross when viewed from the table.

The stone was originally mined in 1901 at the Kimberley mine in South Africa, and was said to have weighed as rough around 375 carats. After being cut, the diamond was presented as a gift at the art sale held by Christie’s London in 1918 to aid the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, which uses the Maltese cross as its symbol.

Fifty-five years after its first sale, it went on the block again at  in Geneva on November 21, 1973, and sold to a private owner for more than $1.8 million.

Now,104 years after its first sale, it was sold to benefit the Red Cross once again. To honor the original mission, part of the sale revenue will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The 205.07 Red Cross Diamond. (Photo courtesy of Christie’s)