Rare blue diamond sold for record $79.3 million
THE Oppenheimer Blue, a large and rare diamond, sold for 56.837 million Swiss francs (S$79.3 million) at auction on Wednesday, setting a world record for any gem after a dramatic bidding process, Christie's in Geneva said.
"It's the most expensive jewel ever sold at auction," Christie's spokesman Alexandra Kindermann said.
The previous record was held by the Blue Moon Diamond, sold at rival Sotheby's for US$48.6 million (S$67 million) last November.
The new Hong Kong owner renamed that stone the Blue Moon Josephine.
The Oppenheimer, the largest fancy vivid blue diamond ever offered at auction, is a rectangular diamond weighing 14.62 carats. It previously belonged to Sir Philip Oppenheimer who controlled the Diamond Syndicate in London.
It had a pre-sale estimate of US$38 million to US$45 million.
The Geneva saleroom broke into applause as the hammer was struck after two phone bidders ended a 20-minute battle.
The buyer's identity was not immediately known.
Bidding opened at 30 million Swiss francs for the blue diamond, the top lot at the half-yearly sale.
As head of the London-based Central Selling Organisation for 45 years and serving as chairman for the Diamond Trading Company branch, Sir Philip oversaw a diamond sales cartel set up by De Beers to keep strict control over the diamond supply worldwide, the Christie's catalogue said.
Oriental Sunrise, a pair of orange-yellow diamond drop earrings sold for 11.36 million Swiss francs, a spokesman said.