A diamond gemstone from South Africa has set a new world record for the most-expensive diamond piece ever sold at an auction.
The 59.60-carat diamond christened “Pink Star“— the largest in its class ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America — was sold in Hong Kong to a local jewelry chain for R77 million ($71.2 million), according to the AFP.
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The sparkling oval-shaped gemstone measures 2.69 by 2.06 centimeters (1.06 by 0.81 inches) and weighs 11.92 grams (0.026 pounds). It was 132.5 carats in the rough when it was mined by De Beers in South Africa in 1999.
The Pink Star was cut and polished over two years by Steinmetz Diamonds and unveiled to the public in 2003 under the title of the “Steinmetz Pink.”
Tuesday’s auction involved three bidders and opened at around $56 million. The sale lasted about 5 minutes before Chow Tai Fook, a top Hong Kong-based jewelry chain, made a winning bid of $71.2 million via a telephone call-in, prompting cheers and applause from those present.
Chow Tai Fook is chaired by Henry Cheng, whose family is ranked third on Forbes‘ “Hong Kong 50 Richest” list with $17.9 billion. Though relatively unknown in the West, the group has a large network of stores in the Far East, including outlets in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Auctioning house Sotheby said in a statement that it was very proud to have been a part of the historic sale.
An earlier auction of the Pink Star diamond by Sotheby in Geneva in 2013 fetched $83 million, but the firm was forced to take it back after the buyer, a New York-based diamond cutter, defaulted on the payments. The auction house, however, said it was confident about getting its money this time around.
“Of course, the buyer definitely has the financial capability,” Patti Wong, the chairman of Sotheby Asia, told reporters, adding that all three bidders were vetted and had a longstanding relationship with the auction house.
“Today Hong Kong has proven itself to be again the international sale center,” Wong said.
Until now, the world record for the most expensive jewel ever sold at an auction was held by the 14.62 carat “Oppenheimer Blue,” which sold for $57.54-million in May 2016 in Geneva.