He had to make sparks. But 'The Rock', a 228.31-carat white diamond, the largest ever sold at auction, is far from reaching a record amount in its category, despite a final price of nearly 21 million. euros.
The Red Cross diamond stole the show, no doubt carried by the fact that part of the proceeds from the sale will go to the International Committee of the Red Cross, at a time when the war in Ukraine is once again bloodying the Old continent.
Multiple bidders fiercely fought over this canary yellow diamond for ten long minutes, the sale ending in a duel in increments of 50,000 Swiss francs. It was sold for 13.5 million euros (CHF 14.1 million), exceeding expectations.
Auctioneer Rahul Kadakia, international director of the jewelry department of Christie's, in charge of the sale of "The Rock", lowered his hammer to 18.6 million CHF (17.8 million euros) after a few minutes only auctions, to applause despite everything, in a packed hall of a Geneva palace.
It was estimated between 20 and 30 million dollars (between 19 and 28.4 million euros). Its final price, including the buyer's premium (commission), amounts to 20.7 million euros.
But Mr Kadakia told AFP he was not disappointed as “The Rock” had set “a new record price per carat for a G color diamond”, the color grading scale for diamonds. a white diamond from D to Z.
The precious stone, whose seller is from North America but who remains anonymous, had everything to seduce collectors and investors.
"It is a truly exceptional pear-shaped diamond" and "it is perfectly symmetrical," Max Fawcett, head of the jewelry department at Christie's in Geneva, told AFP before the sale.
According to the expert, there is only a "handful" of diamonds of this ilk.
The latest record for a similar white diamond (163.41 carats) brought the stone to $33.7 million (price including buyer's premium) - or $206,236 per carat, at a sale in November 2017 in Geneva. According to Christies, this was a record for all auction houses combined.
“The Rock” measures 3.1 cm wide by 5.4 cm long, is taller than a golf ball, and also weighs, at 61.3 grams, more than a tennis ball. Extracted from a mine in South Africa in the early 2000s, it was then sold by Christie's as part of an over-the-counter sale to a private collector.
The Red Cross Diamond
“The Red Cross Diamond,” a 205.07-carat cushion-shaped canary yellow diamond, caused a stir.
The original gem was mined in 1901 at a De Beers South African mine and is said to have weighed around 375 carats, according to Christie's. As well as ranking among the largest diamonds in the world, a striking feature of the stone is its pavilion, which is naturally faceted in the shape of a Maltese cross.
On April 10, 1918, the stone was first offered for sale at Christie's in London by the Diamond Syndicate, to benefit the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. of Malta).
At the time, the diamond was sold for 10,000 pounds (about 600,000 pounds today, or more than 700,000 euros). It had been bought by the famous London jeweler SJ Phillips.
On November 21, 1973, it was put up for sale again at Christie's in Geneva, for 1.8 million francs.
“We are very pleased to have been able to place it in another private collection and that the consignees of the Red Cross Diamond will make a seven-figure donation to the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Kadakia said.
The seller wished to remain anonymous but released this statement: “For nearly half a century, our family has had the privilege of keeping the Red Cross Diamond. (...) At this auspicious moment in history, we honor the call that others have made before us”.