Pink Star Diamond Sets Record With $71.2 Million Sotheby’s Sale—But Still Falls Short

This is one big Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink.

A model shows the 59.60 carat Pink Star diamond ring at Sotheby's Hong Kong. Courtesy of studioEAST/Getty Images.
A model shows the 59.60 carat Pink Star diamond ring at Sotheby's Hong Kong. Courtesy of studioEAST/Getty Images.

Breaking the auction record both for gemstones and for a single lot sold in Asia, the Pink Star Diamond sold for HK$553 million ($71.2 million) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 4. As massive as that number is, it still falls short of $83 million, the winning bid placed on the same diamond at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2013. The buyer eventually defaulted on the sale.

The stone is the largest Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America, weighing in at 59.6 carats. Its sale eclipses the $57.5 million price tag achieved in May 2016 by the 14.62 carat Oppenheimer Blue at Christie’s Geneva.

“The price has more than doubled the record for a fancy vivid pink diamond that we set just last year in Geneva,” pointed out Sotheby’s worldwide jewelry chairman David Bennett in a statement, referring to the 15.38-carat Unique Pink. That pear-shaped stone fetched $31.56 million in May 2016. Among all pink diamonds, the record had previously belonged to the Graff Pink, which sold for $45.8 million in 2010, also at Sotheby’s Geneva

A model shows the 59.60 carat Pink Star diamond ring at Sotheby's Hong Kong. Courtesy of Jayne Russell/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

A model shows the 59.60 carat Pink Star diamond ring at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Courtesy of Jayne Russell/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook took home the Pink Star at the “Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite” sale. Following a three-person bidding war, company chairman Henry Cheng Kar-Shun placed the winning bid by phone with a hammer price of $63 million, not including the buyer’s premium. He has renamed the rock the CTF Pink, after the company’s initials, in honor of his father and company founder Cheng Yu-Tung.

Chow Tai Fook’s diamond holdings also include the Aurora Green, the world’s most expensive vivid green diamond, a 5.03-carat specimen purchased for $16.8 million last year. The company also spent $35.3 million on the Cullian Heritage, a 507-carat rough cut diamond, in 2010. After three years of work, Chow Tai Fook unveiled a cut and polished version, dubbed “A Heritage in Bloom.”

Sotheby's staff gather for a group photo following the sale of a 59.60-carat giant diamond named the "Pink Star", breaking the world record for a gemstone sold at auction, fetching $71.2 million. Courtesy of Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images.

Sotheby’s staff gather for a group photo following the sale of a 59.60-carat giant diamond named the “Pink Star”, breaking the world record for a gemstone sold at auction, fetching $71.2 million. Courtesy of Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images.

“It is fitting that the owner of the most prestigious jeweler in Greater China should today break the record for the most valuable item ever sold in Asia as well as the most valuable diamond ever sold at auction,” said Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith in a statement. Following shortly after Art Basel in Hong Kong, the auction underscores Hong Kong’s position as an important center for the world’s wealthiest citizens.

Unearthed by De Beers in South Africa in 1999, the diamond was originally named the Steinmetz Pink, after its owner, the Steinmetz Group of Companies. Under that name, it was displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, in the 2003 exhibition “The Splendor of Diamonds.”

Following the aborted 2013 sale, would-be buyer Isaac Wolf, a New York-based diamond cutter, announced that he was renaming the stone the Pink Dream. When Wolf couldn’t come up with the money, Sotheby’s was forced to buy the stone itself, thanks to a guaranteed sale price of $60 million.

The Pink Star Diamond. Courtesy of Sotheby's Geneva.

The Pink Star Diamond. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Geneva.

Stuck with the massive gemstone, Sotheby’s partnered with diamond dealer Diacore and jewelers Mellen Inc. to arrange a successful sale for the Pink Star.

In a statement, Mellen congratulated the buyer “on purchasing one of Earth’s most magnificent natural treasures.”

This time around, Sotheby’s is confident the deal will pan out. “We’re very, very confident that all three bidders had the financial capability, and of course the buyer definitely had the financial capability,” Sotheby’s Asia chairwoman Patti Wong told CNBC.


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