An exceptionally rare "FANCY VIVID" pink diamond of nearly 19 carats fetched 50.3 million Swiss francs ($50 million, 44 million euros) at auction in Geneva Tuesday, Christie's said, setting a new per-carat record for a stone of its kind.
The Pink Legacy, which once belonged to the Oppenheimer family who for decades ran the De Beers diamond-mining company, was snapped up by American luxury brand Harry Winston, part of the Swiss Swatch group.
"$2.6 million per carat. That is a world record per carat for a pink diamond," said Francois Curiel, head of Christie's in Europe, of the price that included all fees and commissions.
The 18.96-carat diamond was discovered in a South African mine around a century ago, Christie's said. It was probably cut in the 1920s and has not been altered since.
The stone was immediately rechristened the "Winston Pink Legacy" by its buyers.
Christie's international head of jewelry, Rahul Kadakia, described it as "one of the world's greatest diamonds".
The rectangular-cut stone has been graded "fancy vivid"—the highest possible grade of color intensity—as it has no trace of another hue like purple, orange or brown.
Most pink diamonds weigh less than one carat and those in the top color category with more than 10 carats are virtually unheard of at auction houses.
The Pink Legacy is classed as Type IIa, meaning it is extremely chemically pure, a category only two percent of diamonds fall into.
"These are stones that have little if any trace of nitrogen," said Kadakia, adding that this often gives Type IIa diamonds "exceptional transparency and brilliance".
Why is this as good as it gets?
According to Christies Rahul Kadakia:
‘The saturation, the intensity of this stone is as good as it gets in a colored diamond,’ states Rahul Kadakia, International Head of Jewellery, of the Pink Legacy, an extraordinary 18.96-carat Fancy Vivid Pink diamond that sold for CHF50,375,000 in the Magnificent Jewels auction on 13 November at Christie’s in Geneva, and was promptly renamed The Winston Pink Legacy by its new owners, Harry Winston.
‘To find a diamond of this size with this color is pretty much unreal,’ he continues. ‘You may see this color in a pink diamond of less than one carat. But this is almost 19 carats and it’s as pink as can be. It’s unbelievable.’
Scientists classify diamonds into two main ‘types’ — Type I and Type II. In the latter, the diamond has a particularly rare, almost homogeneous color. ‘Pink diamonds fall under the rare Type IIa category of diamonds,’ explains the specialist. ‘These are stones that have little if any trace of nitrogen, and make up less than two per cent of all gem diamonds. Type IIa stones are some of the most chemically pure diamonds often with exceptional transparency and brilliance.’
While most pink diamonds exhibit a color modifier like purple, orange, brown or grey, the Pink Legacy shows no trace of a secondary color. Its even color distribution, combined with a balanced saturation, tone and straight pink hue, qualify the 18.96 carat diamond for the coveted ‘Fancy Vivid’ color grading from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Only one in 1,000,000 diamonds possess a color deep enough to qualify as ‘Fancy Vivid’, and the Winston Legacy set a new record price per carat for a pink diamond.
Driven by collector demand and an increasingly limited supply, prices for top-quality large pink diamonds has increased exponentially over the years. This booming market reached an historic level in Hong Kong in November 2017 when Christie’s sold ‘The Pink Promise’, an oval-shaped Fancy Vivid Pink diamond of just under 15 carats, for $32,480,500 — a whopping $2,175,519 per carat. The figure remains the world auction record price per carat for any pink diamond.
This incomparable pink diamond has descended from the Oppenheimer Family and its sale was a major moment in auction history.