Valued as symbols of wealth, power, and status for centuries, here are the most expensive gemstones ever sold at auction.
Gemstones have been highly coveted in societies throughout history, as they are often seen as a symbol of one’s status. Being associated with luxury, these precious stones can fetch extremely high prices at auction.
Some of the factors that contribute to a gem’s value are rarity and quality (color, clarity, and cut). Many are keen on collecting and investing in them because their value is also relatively stable.
At auctions, the jewels that made record-breaking sales were mostly diamonds. Here are just some of the most valuable diamonds ever sold.
Lesedi La Rona
The Lesedi La Rona is the world’s largest gem-quality rough diamond, coming in at 1,109 carats. Before cutting and polishing, it was almost the size of a tennis ball.
Graff Diamonds acquired the gemstone in 2017 for $53 million. According to the jeweler, it is the “largest highest color, highest clarity diamond ever certified by the GIA [Gemological Institute of America].”
After 18 months of meticulous cutting and polishing, the precious stone is now a square, emerald cut diamond at 302.37 carats.
The Constellation was sold in 2016 for $63 million. It set a record for the highest price ever achieved for a rough diamond.
The 813 carat diamond went to a Dubai-based firm. It was originally discovered in Lucara Diamond’s Karowe mine in Botswana, the same place where they found the Lesedi La Rona just a day before.
The rare pink diamond fetched $50 million at auction which set the record price per carat. Weighing just under 19 carats, American jeweler Harry Winston purchased the gemstone at an auction in Geneva after only five minutes of bidding.
“The saturation, the intensity of this stone, is as good as it gets in a colored diamond,” said Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s international head of jewelry. “To find a diamond of this size with this color is pretty much unreal. You may see this color in a pink diamond of less than one carat. But this is almost 19 carats and it’s as pink as can be. It’s unbelievable,” he continued.
Previously owned by the Oppenheimer family, its new owners promptly renamed it The Winston Pink Legacy.
When the Oppenheimer Blue was sold in 2016, it was the most expensive jewel ever auctioned. The 14.62 carat diamond was acquired for $57.5 million.
The diamond, also previously owned by the Oppenheimer family, is the largest Fancy Vivid Blue diamond to ever come to auction. The rectangular-shaped gem is set in a platinum ring.
Bidding for the Oppenheimer Blue went by slowly, lasting approximately 30 minutes. There was also incremental bidding at 200,000 Swiss francs, but Kadakia was happy to receive all bids saying, “once in a lifetime we have a stone like this.”
In 2017, the 59.60 carat pink diamond sold for a record $71.2 million in Hong Kong. Acquired by local jewelers Chow Tai Fook, the bidding war lasted only five minutes.
According to Sotheby’s, the diamond is the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever graded by the GIA. Now considered one of the world’s great natural treasures, Steinmetz Diamonds spent nearly two years cutting and polishing the rough stone into perfection.
Banner image via Twitter @ChristiesInc.