Flawless rare diamond sells for £13.5m


Dennis Van Tine/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

A diamond the size of a strawberry sold at Chritie's auction house in Geneva last night for a record 20.35m Swiss francs (£13.5m).

The flawless, colourless stone, which once belonged to the Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1872-1962), fetched more than double the price paid for it at auction almost two decades ago.

Known as the Archduke Joseph Diamond, the stone is a 76.02 carat cushion shaped diamond with internally flawless clarity. It's impressive size, quality and historical significance make it one of the world's most famous and desirable diamonds to appear at auction.

"It is a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond," François Curiel, director of the international jewellery department at Christie's, said.

Vague history
According to Christie's, little is known about the exact history of the diamond but it is believed that Archduke Joseph August passed the diamond on to his son, Archduke Joseph Francis (1895-1957). Records show that the diamond was deposited in the vault of the Hungarian General Credit Bank on 1st June 1933 in the presence of a State Counselor.

Three years later it was sold to an anonymous buyer who deposited it in a safe during the Second World War. The diamond re-appeared on 22 June 1961 at auction in London, and subsequently in November 1993 at Christie's Geneva where it sold for $6,480,000.

Fit for a Queen
Alfredo J. Molina, the diamond's former owner and CEO of America's Black, Starr & Frost jewellers said: "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 is literally 'Fit for a Queen.'

"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 wish the Archduke Joseph Diamond Godspeed... and I know its new owners will delight in its beauty, charisma and mystery as I have for so many happy years."

Diamond sales
Christie's reports that fine diamonds have experienced a surge in demand at auction in recent years.

Recent notable sales include the spectacular D-color, 33.19 carat Elizabeth Taylor Diamond ring, which fetched US$8.8 million (£5.54 million) at Christie's New York in December 2011. The star wore virtually every day since receiving it as a gift from Richard Burton in 1968. The sale set a new record price-per-carat of $240,000.

In May 2011, Christie's Hong Kong sold a spectacular pair of cushion-shaped Golconda diamond ear pendants for HK$72.3 million (£5.86 million).

In 2008, Christie's London sold The Wittelsbach Diamond, an historic 17th Century cushion-shaped deep grayish blue, VS2 diamond for £16.4 million.

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