A flawless diamond of “incomparable significance” has sold at auction for a staggering £13.5 million – a record for a colourless gem.
The 76-carat Archduke Joseph diamond, from India’s Golconda mines, is regarded as one of the most famous diamonds in the world
It comfortably exceeded its £9 million estimate, with an anonymous buyer paying £13.5m ($21m) at the Christie’s auction in Geneva.
Francois Curiel, director of the international jewellery department at Christie’s, described the price as “almost flabbergasting”.
She said: “It is a world record for a Golconda diamond and a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond.
“The market is not on the best form at the moment. The sale tonight was almost flabbergasting.”
The gem, which previously sold for $6.5m in November 1993, was described as a “spectacular diamond” and an “incomparable jewel of historical and gemological significance”.
Around the size of a domino, it was named after Archduke Joseph August of Austria, Palatine who lived from 1872-1962.
The Archduke later passed the gem onto his son, the Archduke Joseph Francis, and records show it was deposited in the vault of the Hungarian General Credit Bank on 1 June 1933.
It escaped the clutches of the Nazis during World War II with current owner Alfredo J. Molina, chairman of California-based jeweler Black, Starr & Frost, selling it through Christie’s on Tuesday.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Molina said £13.5 million was a “great price for a stone of this quality”.
He added: “I am thrilled but not surprised that the Archduke Joseph Diamond should have fetched such a high price.
It is considered the finest and largest perfect Golconda diamond ever to appear at auction, with a noble lineage and royal provenance which literally ‘fit for a Queen’.
“It’s one of a kind, so it’s like saying ‘Are you pleased when you sell the Mona Lisa?’ Or ‘Are you pleased when you sell the Hope Diamond?’
“I was blessed to be the Archduke’s guardian and champion for the past 13 years, and indeed it has become part of my very identity.
“I know its new owners will delight in its beauty, charisma and mystery as I have for
so many happy years.”
In total, £53.5 million changed hands at Christie’s Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels with 84 per cent of lots selling.
Over the seven hour long sale a total of 19 lots sold above $1 million (£620,000) with 147 buyers coming from 28 countries.
Rahul Kadakia, head of jewellery, Christie’s Americas and Switzerland, said: “The Archduke Joseph Diamond is the finest and largest perfect Golconda diamond ever to appear at auction.
“It is comparable in its noble lineage and superb quality to the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond that forms part of the crown jewels of Great Britain.
“It is particularly fortuitous to bring this historic gem back to market in the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.”