'Fabulous' pink diamond sells for $47m

A rare pink diamond has smashed the world record for a jewel at auction, selling for more than $US46 million ($A47.2 million) to a well-known gem dealer.

London jeweller Laurence Graff paid $US46,158,674, for the 24.78-carat "fancy intense pink" diamond, which he immediately named "The Graff Pink."

"It is the most fabulous diamond I've seen in the history of my career and I'm delighted to have bought it," Graff said in a statement released by auction house Sotheby's, which offered the diamond at its Geneva sale.

The sale price was almost double the $US24.3 million ($A24.93 million) achieved by the blue 35.56-carat Wittelsbach-Graff diamond in 2008. That was also bought by Graff.

"This is the highest price ever bid for a jewel at auction," said David Bennett, the head of Sotheby's jewellery division, as the auction room in Geneva's luxury Beau Rivage hotel erupted into applause.

Graff raised eyebrows when he had the blue diamond recut after purchase, to the displeasure of purists who considered it an act of vandalism against a unique object. It wasn't immediately known whether he planned to alter the pink diamond, which Sotheby's says has a flaw unnoticeable to the naked eye but may be graded as internally flawless after re-polishing.

Sotheby's said it sold jewels worth $US105.1 million ($A107.84 million) on Tuesday, also a world record for a single sale. The auction included items once belonging to Christina Onassis, the daughter of the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and Cristina Ford, the second wife of Henry Ford's grandson Henry Ford II.

"I think this tells you a bit about the health of the market," Bennett told reporters after the sale.