Sotheby’s Hawks a $60 Million Pink Star Diamond Ring—Will It Set a Record?

A 2013 sale set a world record at $83 million, but the buyer later defaulted.

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

After a headline-grabbing, record-setting sale fell through, the largest Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America, the Pink Star Diamond, is heading back to the auction block, with an estimated price in excess of $60 million.

The oval mixed-cut stone weighs in at a hefty 59.6 carats, and is set in a platinum band. The stone will be the highlight at the April 4 “Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite” sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, which is billing it as “one of the world’s great natural treasures.”

The diamond came up for auction at Sotheby’s Geneva in November 2013, when New York-based diamond cutter Isaac Wolf placed a winning bid of 76.3 million Swiss francs ($83 million). In celebration of the world record price, which surpassed the $45.8 million 2010 sale of the Graff Pink, also at Sotheby’s Geneva, the house played the Pink Panther theme song.

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

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

“The pink diamond, I have no hesitation in saying, is a truly amazing royal stone, fit for any royal collection, fit for any museum collection,” said auctioneer David Bennett at the time. “There is no stone of that size and color known, no other stone.”

But the excitement over the world record proved premature: Wolf, who claimed to be representing a group of investors, defaulted on the sale, and Sotheby’s, which had guaranteed a purchase price of at least $60 million, had to buy the stone itself. The house estimates its value at $72 million and owns the diamond in partnership with diamond dealer Diacore and jewelers Mellen Inc., as reported by Forbes.

When unearthed as a rough diamond by De Beers in South Africa in 1999, the Pink Star Diamond was 132.5 carats. A design team spent two years determining how the stone could best be cut and polished, casting it in epoxy over 50 times while experimenting with different treatments.

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

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

The rock was unveiled in Monaco in 2003, and first went on public view that year at the the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, in the exhibition “The Splendor of Diamonds.” Half a million people saw the show over its first two months, before the museum extended its run. It was originally dubbed the Steinmetz Pink, as it was owned by the Steinmetz Group of Companies (which was the principal sponsor of the Smithsonian show).

Currently, the world’s most expensive diamond at auction is the 14.62 carat Oppenheimer Blue, which fetched $57.5 million at Christie’s Geneva in May 2016.


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