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Rare pink diamond fetches record price

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The international head of jewellery at Christie’s, Rahul Kadakia, said that the 18.96-carat fancy vivid pink diamond was “as good as it gets”

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A “ONE-of-a-kind”, South African-mined,18.96-carat pink diamond has sold for $50 million (about R720 million) – setting a new world record price per carat for a pink diamond.

The “Pink Legacy”, a diamond weighing just under 19 carats, fetched a record 50.375 million Swiss francs ($50 million) when it was purchased by US-based luxury jeweller Harry Winston during an auction at Christie’s in Geneva, Switzerland, this week.

Harry Winston promptly renamed it “The Winston Pink Legacy”, adding it to its collection of rare jewels, the auction house said.

Once owned by the Oppenheimer Family, who built De Beers into the world’s biggest diamond trader, the diamond had a pre-sale estimate of $30 to $50 million.

The international head of jewellery at Christie’s, Rahul Kadakia, said that the 18.96-carat fancy vivid pink diamond was “as good as it gets”.

“The saturation, the intensity of the stone is as good as it gets in a coloured diamond. To find a diamond of this size with this colour is pretty much unreal. You may see this colour 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,” Kadakia said.

Scientists classify diamonds into two main “types” – Type I and Type II. In the latter, the diamond has a particularly rare, almost homogeneous colour.

“Pink diamonds fall under the rare Type IIA category of diamonds. These are stones that have little if any trace of nitrogen and make up less than two percent 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 colour modifier like purple, orange, brown or grey, the Pink Legacy shows no trace of a secondary colour. Its even colour distribution, combined with a balanced saturation, tone and straight pink hue, qualify the 18.96 carat diamond for the coveted ‘fancy vivid’ colour grading from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Only one in 100 000 diamonds possess a colour deep enough to qualify as ‘fancy vivid’, and the Winston Legacy set a new record price per carat for a pink diamond,” Kadakia said.

He added that in the fancy vivid pink range, diamonds of more than five or six carats were rarely encountered.

“Fewer than 10 percent of pink diamonds weigh more than one-fifth of a carat. In the saleroom, fancy vivid pink diamonds over 10 carats are virtually unheard of – in over 250 years of auction history at Christie’s, only four such stones have ever appeared for sale.”

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 – $2 1 million per carat. The sale of Pink Legacy has surpassed that, at $2.6 million (R37.4 million) per carat.

“$2.6 million per carat. That is a world record per carat for a pink diamond,” said Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s.

Curiel added that the rectangular-cut Pink Legacy stone was found in a South African mine around 100 years ago and has likely not been altered since it was first cut in 1920.