A huge, internally flawless diamond from India’s fabled Golconda mines was sold at auction in Geneva on Tuesday night for a record 20.355 million Swiss francs ($21.48 million), Christie’s said.
The rare, colourless stone weighing 76.02 carats and roughly the size of a large strawberry, once belonged to Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1872-1962), a prince of the Hungarian line of the Habsburgs.
Its pre-sale estimate was 15-to-25 million Swiss francs and it fetched more than double the price paid for it at auction two decades ago.
“It is a world record for a Golconda diamond and a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond,” Francois Curiel, director of international jewellery at Christie’s, told reporters.
“The market is not on the best form at the moment. The sale tonight was almost flabbergasting,” Curiel said.
The price which the 76 carat jewel fetched at the Christie’s sale is a record for the auction of a clear, colourless diamond.
It is also the highest auction price per carat for such a gem and the record for a Golconda diamond, the same mines which produced the Koh-i-Noor which adorns the British Queen’s crown.
“It’s a cushion-shaped diamond, weighing 76.02 carats, of D colour,” said Christie’s jewellery expert Jean-Marc Lunel.
The diamond, which was bought by an anonymous bidder, once belonged to the Habsburgs, former rulers of the Austrian empire. It was sold in 1936 to a still-anonymous buyer and, hidden in a safe, escaped the attentions of the Nazis during the Second World War.
It reappeared on the international scene at a sale in London in 1961. In the 1990s, it was sold again, in Geneva, for $6.5 million.