The largest white diamond to ever come up for auction has been sold for 21,681,000 CHF ($21.9 million) at Christie’s in Geneva.
The 228.31-carat, pear-shaped gemstone — dubbed “The Rock” — originated from South Africa, where some of the largest diamonds in the world have been found, including the pear-shaped “Star of Africa” and rose cushion cut “Golden Jubilee.”
“The Rock” is about the size of a golf ball and was previously worn as a lavish Cartier necklace by its former owner. Along with the pear-shaped stone, the new owner will also receive a round diamond and platinum pendant mounting from the French luxury brand.
Ahead of the sale, the head of Christie’s jewelry department in Geneva, Max Fawcett, explained why “The Rock” is a particularly unique stone.
A 228.31 carat white diamond called “The Rock.” Credit: Denis Balibouse/Reuters
Despite its grandeur, the hammer price of “The Rock” fell short of its low estimate during the quick bidding period Wednesday. The auction house had given the diamond a 30,000,000 CHF ($30.2 million) high estimate. In 2017, an intricate emerald and diamond necklace from Swiss luxury jeweler de Grisogono, which featured a central 163.41-carat rectangular sparkler, set the record for a white diamond sale at 33,500,000 CHF ($33.8 million USD).
But other lots in the “Magnificent Jewels” sale smashed expectations, including a 1940s pink sapphire, ruby and diamond brooch mounted by Cartier, which sold for 579,600 CHF ($585,000) — over 11 times its high estimate — and a 19th-century diamond and pearl tiara, which sold for more than triple its high estimate at 2,394,000 CHF ($2.4 million).
The final lot was a diamond that is nearly as large as “The Rock” — the 205.07-carat, yellow cushion-shaped stone named “The Red Cross Diamond.” That gem sold for 14,181,250 CHF ($14.3 million), a portion of which will be donated to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). First sold at Christie’s over a century ago to help the British Red Cross during World War I, the diamond was estimated to sell for between $7 million and $10 million, according to Fawcett.