A new world record has been set for the top price for a gem, as a Hong Kong-based jeweler purchased a pink diamond for approximately $71 million. Nicknamed the Pink Star, this 59.6 carat diamond was bid upon by three main parties over the course of five tense minutes. The previous record holder was the Oppenheimer Blue, a blue diamond sold last year for $58 million, while the most expensive pink diamond prior to today was the Graff Pink, sold for $46.2 in 2010. Sotheby’s, the auction house in charge of this sale, only expected the pink gem to sell for $60 million.
The Pink Star is the largest flawless diamond ever found, and its color is the highest grade in existence. It was mined by De Beers in Botswana and cut by Steinmetz Diamonds, an Israeli jeweler. It was first made known to the public when model Helena Christensen wore it at a Monaco event in 2003. It was then exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., at one point sitting side-by-side with the historic blue Hope Diamond. It also made an appearance at London’s natural history museum. The Pink Star was initially set to sell for $83 million in 2013, but the buyer never provided the auction house with the funds, so the diamond went back into the auction market.
Chow Tai Fook, the Hong Kong jewelry chain that purchased the diamond, is actually the world’s largest jeweler, with more than 2,000 stores in China. The last time Chow Tai Fook made this big of a splash was when it purchased a diamond from Cullinan for $35 million. While only a quarter of the company’s revenue comes from gems (their specialty is in gold products), they have been recently expanding their gem market into the United States. For example, they purchased the American diamond jeweler for $150 million in 2014.