Swatch's Harry Winston buys $33.2m diamond at auction

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) - Prestigious jeweller Harry Winston, which was acquired earlier this year by Swatch Group, bought a new colourless, flawless 101.73-carat diamond for a record US$26.7 million (S$33.2 million) at an auction in Geneva on Wednesday, auction house Christie's said.

Christie's representative Raul Kadakia told reporters after the sale that Harry Winston was the buyer of the diamond that Wednesday evening smashed the previous auction-price record for a diamond in its category by more than US$10 million.

As the first ever buyer of the new diamond, Harry Winston had the priviledge of naming it and decided to call it "Harry Legacy," Mr Kadakia said.

The American Institute of Gemology has handed the gemstone the top colourless grade "D" and the best clarity grade, "flawless", which is characterised by its "absolute symmetry", according to Christies.

In the rough, the diamond was 236 carats when it was extracted from the Jwaneng mine in Botswana, before it was meticulously sculpted for 21 months, Christie's said.

Wednesday's sale marked the highest price ever paid for a flawless colourless diamond at auction, although Christie's had hoped the new diamond - the largest of its kind to ever go under the hammer - would rake in US$30 million.

The previous auction-price record-holder in the category was the 84.37-carat Chloe round diamond, snapped up at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva in 2007 by Guess Jeans founder Georges Marciano for US$16.2 million.