The Top 10 Most Expensive Diamonds Ever Sold at an Auction
July 15, 2019
Since time immemorial, the diamond has continued to be one of the most sought-after mining products in the world of gemstones. Its rarity, beauty and even its rich ancient history has seen old price records shattered and new records set in all big auctions around the world. A brief look at history shows that diamonds were a preserve of the high and mighty even before modern civilisation. For instance, the Chinese believed diamonds could ward off evil, and consequently, the kings, royals and wealthy individuals of those days wore them for protection. Ancient Greeks wore diamonds to denote devotion to Zeus – the Greek god of the sky and thunder – who created them to be sacred.
Fast forward to the present world and diamonds are still one of the most valuable stones in the world. Owning one is considered to be the ultimate mark of wealth. The stone reigns supreme in all momentous, once-in-lifetime occasions celebrated around the world. A diamond ring or present is used to signify one’s undying enduring love in weddings, birthdays or engagements, and the biggest pawn shops know how good an investment it is since they command very high prices and are always appreciated.
To help us understand how expensive they can be, consider the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which means “Mountain of the light” in Persia. The British Crown owns it, and its exact worth remains unknown because it is “too expensive to have a price tag.” It is, however, estimated to be worth way over a billion Euros.
Since Koh-i-Noor is astronomically priced, we’ll exclude it from our list and focus on the 10 most expensive diamonds ever sold at auction.
1. The Pink Star
The Pink Star, formerly known as the Steinmetz Pink, currently holds the record from the Gemological Institute of America for being the largest flawless Vivid Pink diamond ever sold. The Pink Star fetched a staggering $71.2 million (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/jewellery/pink-star-valuable-cut-diamond-ever-offered-auction-sold-sothebys/) in under five minutes of bidding at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong. The diamond, which has since been renamed CTF PINK STAR, was bought by famed Jeweller, Chow Tai Fook, and weighs 59.6 carats. It traces its roots to South Africa, where De Beers mined it in the year 1999. In its rough form, it weighed 132.5 carats. The Benny Steinmetz Group then intricately cut the diamond over 20 months to its present weight of 59.6 carats.
2. Oppenheimer Blue Diamond
This extremely rare Blue Diamond (http://fortune.com/2016/05/19/blue-diamond-auction-oppenheimer/) weighing 14.62 carats is the world’s largest fancy vivid blue diamond to ever sell at an auction house. In May 2016, the amazing diamond sold for a record $57.5 million, which included fees and commission at the Christie’s auction in Geneva. The rectangular shaped diamond bears a unique hue with an astounding proportion. First owned by the Oppenheimer, the diamond originated from South Africa where the family had diamond mines. The family owning diamond mines also meant that they also owned some of the world’s amazing and rarest diamonds.
3. The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
The Wittelsbach-Graff diamond (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittelsbach-Graff_Diamond#History), formerly only known as the Der Blaue Wittelsbach, weighs 31.06 carats and has a colour of Fancy Deep Blue. The diamond’s history dates back to the 1600s when it was discovered in the mines of Kollur, which is in Andhra Pradesh, India. Billionaire Laurence Graff bought the stone in the 2008 Christie’s auction for a then world record of $24.3 million. Back then, it had a colour of fancy greyish blue and weighed 35.56 carats. The new owner thought a diamond over 360 years old needed some retouches, to achieve a “perfect” clarity and brilliance. Though it lost 4.52 carats during the process, it enabled it to attain a higher grade as per the Gemological Institute of America. It now dons the coveted colour of “fancy deep blue” as opposed to its original colour of fancy deep greyish blue. Moreover, it is now rated Internally flawless (IF) which holds more weight than its initial rating of VS1 clarity. After the recut, Laurence Graff renamed the diamond The Wittelsbach-Graff.
4. The Graff Pink
After setting a world record with the purchase of The Wittelsbach-Graff, Laurence Graff would shatter it two years later with the acquisition of “The Graff Pink” diamond at Sotheby’s auction, for a jaw-dropping price of $46.15 million (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1330404/British-billionaire-Laurence-Graff-pays-record-29m-rare-pink-diamond.html). It is emerald cut, has the colour of Fancy Intense pink and weighs 24.78 carats. The Gemological Institute of America has classified it as Diamond Type IIa, which puts it in the coveted ranks of the top 2% of the world’s diamonds. As with The Wittelsbach-Graff, the billionaire identified 25 natural flaws to be removed, to elevate its status to internally flawless.
His efforts were not in vain; though the Graff Pink now weighs 23.88 carats, its colour has been heightened from fancy vivid pink to vivid pink, and the clarity rose to internally flawless. It held onto the record of the most expensive pink diamond ever sold till 2017 when the Pink Star dethroned it.
5. The Princie Pink Diamond
The Princie Diamond (https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2013/04/16/34-carat-pink-diamond-fetches-nearly-40-million/#7c038e9166eb), which got its name from a 14-year-old son of Sita Davi, the Maharani of Baroda, is another rare and unique stone. The diamond, which traces its origins from India, is among the largest pink diamonds in the world. When it first hit the auction, the 34.6-carat stone sold for $24.3 million. In 2013, the diamond sold for a staggering $40 million at Christie’s in New York, making it one of the most expensive pink diamonds ever sold. Though controversy still surrounds its ownership, it remains one of the most exquisite and rarest stones ever sold.
6. The Orange
Pink and blue diamonds are some of the most treasured and appreciated gems. Adding the Orange Diamond to the list of the most beautiful coloured diamonds was worth everything because this stone is in a class of its own. The rare gem weighing 14.82 carats was first estimated to sell for $21 million at the auction. However, “The Orange” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2013/11/12/14-82-carat-orange-diamond-sells-for-a-world-record-35-5-million/#4bee73681657) exceeded expectations by selling at a record $35.5 million in 2013 at Christie’s Geneva auction. The stone also set a new record of the highest per carat price for any coloured diamond ever sold. What makes this diamond extra-special is its colour of pure-orange, which is very rare. The majority of orange diamonds have other secondary colours.
7. Blue Moon of Josephine
Hong Kong billionaire, Joseph Lau, paid a whopping $48.4 million for the Blue Moon at the 2015 Sotheby’s auction in Geneva. It weighs 12.03 carat and is considered the largest cushion-shaped cut diamond to ever appear at an auction. It has the colour of Fancy Vivid Blue. Discovered in South Africa in January 2014, it’s worth noting that this was not the first record-breaking diamond to be bought by the mogul. He reportedly paid $28.5 million for a cushion-shaped, 16.08 carat diamond at Christie’s auction, the day before Sotheby’s auction where he splashed over $48 million for the “Blue Moon”. Joseph Lau has since renamed it “Sweet Josephine”( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Josephine), perhaps as a sign of affection for his eleven-year-old daughter. Similarly, “The Blue Moon” was renamed “The Blue Moon of Josephine”, again to denote his love for her daughter, Josephine.
8. The 101
The Harry Winston (https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2013/05/16/harry-winston-buys-101-ct-perfect-diamond-for-record-setting-26-7m-at-christies-geneva-auction/#2fd7143634a5) firm joined the ranks of other diamond lovers by purchasing this flawless and rare stone from Christie’s auction in Geneva in 2013. It traces its roots to Botswana where it was named 101, deriving its name from its near-perfect weight of 101.73 carats. It is among the largest colourless diamonds known to exist, with its pear-shaped structure being likened to the size of a little egg. It is classified as flawless, and fetched $26.7 million, making it join the ranks of the most expensive diamonds to ever sell at an auction house. It has been christened the “Perfect Diamond” and sold for a record $254,000 per carat, which is a colourless diamond world record. The Gemological Institute of America has classified it as “the most perfect” D-colour, type IIA flawless stone.
9. The Winston Blue Diamond
The Winston blue (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Winston_Blue) weighs 13.22 carats and is one of the largest flawless blue diamonds ever sold. The diamond, whose country of origin is South Africa holds the record for the highest price per carat (approximately $1.8 million) ever paid for a blue diamond. It is the largest, flawless Vivid Pink diamond in the world and was sold for a record $23.8 million (https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonydemarco/2014/05/15/harry-winston-renames-worlds-largest-flawless-vivid-blue-diamond-the-winston-blue/#6da1bbb85715) at Christie’s auction in Geneva Magnificent Jewels. It was initially known as “The Blue” but was renamed “The Winston Blue” by Nayla Hayek, the CEO of Harry Winston Inc.
10. The Perfect Pink
Not all diamonds are made equal; pink diamonds, in particular, hold the record for the most expensive diamonds in the world. Their rarity notwithstanding, the fascination with pink diamonds dates back to the Elizabethan Era, where they were held as a symbol of happiness. Today, the colour pink is thought to symbolise love and tenderness, which is as rare as the pink diamond.
The Perfect Pink (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/hongkong/8170240/Perfect-Pink-diamond-sells-for-23-million.html) is a rectangular cut, type IIA diamond with a weight of 14.23 carats. It sold for an astounding $23.3 million at Christie’s 2010 auction in Hong Kong, setting a record as the most expensive jewel ever sold in Asia.
Generally speaking, diamonds, irrespective of colour classification, will continue to hold their value and fetch astronomical prices in the market. Their incredible beauty and scarcity have made it join the list of the worlds’ most sought after collectables and consequently, their prices keep appreciating.
Those who have a penchant for the finer things in life understand that diamonds denote luxury, class, wealth or the priceless feelings we yearn for or wish to express that money can’t buy.