Pink diamond sets new world record

A New York diamond cutter was the buyer of a 59.60-carat pink diamond that sold for a record $89 million in Geneva last night.

The cutter, Isaac Wolf, renamed the oval-cut stone the ‘‘Pink Dream,’’ Sotheby’s auction house said. Mr Wolf competed against three others for the gem in bidding that lasted about five minutes before the strike of the gavel, followed by cheers and applause.

The stone, a huge flawless pink diamond, sold for 76.3 million Swiss francs ($89.2 million) including commission fees in Geneva yesterday, a world record price for any  gemstone at auction.

The oval-shaped diamond, mounted on a ring, weighed in at 59.60 carats. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, 68 million (Swiss francs) is the world record bid for a diamond ever bid and it's right here," Sotheby's auctioneer David Bennett said as he brought down the hammer in the Geneva salesroom.

Sotheby's said the final sale price included the "buyer's premium", or commission fees.

Bennett, noting that its pre-sale estimate was $65 million, told reporters: "It surpassed our estimate. It's a large amount of money in itself but I don't think this stone has a price."

The previous record was held by the "Graff Pink", a 24.78 carat fancy intense pink diamond bought by Laurence Graff, the London-based jeweller known as "The King of Diamonds", in 2010 for 45.44 million Swiss francs.

The Pink Star was cut and polished from a 132.5 carat rough diamond mined by De Beers somewhere in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby's, which said it had no information on the exact geographic origin.

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Michael Neuman, the general manager of Sydney-based Mondial Pink Diamond Atelier, says the result reinforces the exclusivity of coloured diamonds.

"They are an incredibly rare natural product and unlike a house, for example, cannot be recreated," he says.

Coloured diamonds have until recent decades been almost exclusively held by royalty and collectors. They were among the few luxury items to continue appreciating in value during the 2008 global financial crisis.

Diamonds with red (pink), green or blue hues can command up to 100 times the price of non-coloured stones of similar size and quality, Neuman says, while more common yellow diamonds may be 10-20 times the price.

Their desirability is further enhanced by a trend for wealthy celebrities to purchase them for wedding rings.

Despite the massive premium over regular stones, Neuman says coloured diamonds are not out of the reach of ordinary Australians.

"You'll be looking at a much, much smaller stone for the same price, but we have coloured diamonds from $1500 all the way up to $1 million," he says.

One such diamond currently offered for sale by Mondial Pink Diamond Atelier is the "Charisse", which is a 0.89 carat "Vivid Purple Pink" stone set into a ring that retails for "close to $1 million".

As well as gaining in popular appear, coloured diamonds are also being sought out as a recession-proof investment. "People consider them a very safe repository of money," Neuman says.

Reuters, New York Times, with Steve Colquhoun