“The Rock” far from a record

He had to make sparks. But “The Rock,” a 228.31-carat white diamond, the largest ever sold at auction, sold for €17.8 million on Thursday, less than its estimate and far from a record in its category .

Auctioneer Rahul Kadakia, international head of Christie’s jewelry, lowered his gavel to CHF 18.6 million ($24.8 million) after just a few minutes of bidding, despite the applause in a sold-out Geneva palace.

The hammer price does not include the buyer’s commission, which Christie’s later disclosed. It was valued at between $20 and $30 million.


At 228.31 carats, the gemstone, whose seller is from North America but remains anonymous, had everything to entice gemstone lovers and investors.

“It’s a really exceptional pear-shaped diamond,” and “it’s perfectly symmetrical,” Max Fawcett, head of jewelry at Christie’s in Geneva, told AFP days before the sale.

According to the expert, there are only a “handful” of such diamonds.

The most recent record for a similar white diamond (163.41 carats) brought the stone to $33.7 million (price including buyer’s premium) – or $206,236 per carat – at a November 2017 sale in Geneva. According to Christies, this was a record for all auction houses combined.

“The Rock” is 3.1 cm wide and 5.4 cm long, taller than a golf ball and also weighs more than a tennis ball at 61.3 grams. It was extracted from a mine in South Africa in the early 2000s and then sold by Christie’s to a private collector in an over-the-counter sale.


“The Rock” is not the only star of these auctions.

Also on sale is The Red Cross Diamond, a 205.07 carat cushion-shaped canary yellow diamond. The sale should be driven by the very special context, at a time when the war in Ukraine is once again bloodying the old continent.

“It is estimated between 7 and 10 million francs. I expect fantastic sales results from him. A majority of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Fawcett said.

The original gemstone was mined in 1901 at a De Beers company’s South African mine and is said to have weighed around 375 carats, according to Christie’s. In addition to being among the largest diamonds in the world, the stone is notable for its pavilion, naturally faceted in the shape of a Maltese cross.

On April 10, 1918, the stone was first offered for sale at Christie’s in London by the Diamond Syndicate in aid of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. of Malta.

At the time, the diamond cost £10,000 (about £600,000 today, or over $956,000). It had been bought by the famous London jeweler SJ Phillips.

On November 21, 1973, it was put up for sale again at Christie’s in Geneva for 1.8 million francs. It is now being offered by Christie’s for the third time.

The seller wished to remain anonymous, but issued the following statement: “For almost half a century, our family has had the privilege of owning the Red Cross diamond. (…) At this opportune moment in history, we honor the reputation made by others before us.”

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