‘Pink Star’ diamond auctioned for record $83 million

AFP-JIJI

A plum-size diamond known as the “Pink Star” was auctioned Wednesday for $83 million, a world record for a gemstone.

David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s jewelry division in Europe and the Middle East, brought down the hammer in a Geneva hotel after an intense five-minute bidding race among four contenders.

The winner, a bearded man apparently in his 60s sporting a Jewish skullcap, ended up pitted in a one-on-one duel with a telephone competitor with whom Patty Wong, the chairwoman of Sotheby’s in Asia, spoke in Mandarin from the auction room.

The bearded man declined to identify himself but confirmed that he was representing another individual.

Sotheby’s later said the buyer was Isaac Wolf, a New York diamond cutter, who is going to rename the stone “The Pink Dream.”

The diamond was the star of a high-end jewelry auction in the upscale Beau Rivage Hotel on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The Pink Star was the penultimate lot, and there were gasps of awe as a model stood next to Bennett on the auction podium wearing the diamond, which is mounted on a ring.

The auction was conducted in Swiss francs, starting at 48 million and working its way upwards million by million. The final price, including Sotheby’s premium, was 76.32 million — the equivalent of $83.2 million.

Three years ago, Sotheby’s set an auction record of $46.2 million for a diamond when it sold the “Graff Pink” gemstone.

The 59.60-carat Pink Star is the largest in its class ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America, with the second-biggest less than half its size.

The sparkling oval-cut rock measures 26.9 by 20.6 mm and weighs 11.92 grams.

In addition to its top color and clarity ratings, it falls into a rare subgroup with the purest diamond crystals and extraordinary optical transparency, comprising less than 2 percent of all gem diamonds, according to the gemological institute.

“The pink diamond, I have no hesitation in saying, is a truly amazing, royal stone. There is no stone of that size and color known,” Bennett said.

The Pink Star was 132.5 carats in the rough when it was mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby’s, which has not said which country it came from. It was cut and polished over two years and unveiled to the public in 2003.