Flawless 100-carat diamond sells for $30 million at New York auction

NEW YORK (AFP/REUTERS) - A "perfect" 100-carat diamond originally mined in South Africa sold for US$22.1 million (S$29.8 million) in New York on Tuesday in three minutes of bidding, Sotheby's said.

The auction house had valued the jewel, which weighs 100.20 carats, at US$19-25 million, calling it "the largest perfect diamond with a classic emerald cut ever to be offered at auction."

Discovered in the De Beers mines of South Africa then cut, polished and perfected for more than a year, it was the highlight in 370 lots at a Sotheby's jewellery auction.

The winning bidder took part by telephone but wanted to remain anonymous, Sotheby's said.

The auction house had showcased the jewel twice in the Middle East - in Doha and Dubai - as well as Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and New York in a bid to attract interest ahead of the sale.

Gary Schuler, head of Sotheby's jewellery department in New York, called the stone "the definition of perfection."

"The colour is whiter than white, it is free of any internal imperfections, and so transparent that I can only compare it to a pool of icy water," he said before the sale.

A flawless pink diamond, dubbed the "Pink Star," set a world record price for a gemstone at auction when it sold for US$83.02 million in Geneva in 2013.

The highest price for a white diamond is US$30.6 million paid for a 118.28 carat stone in Hong Kong in 2013.

Schuler said the distinguishing characteristic of the huge diamond being auctioned on Tuesday is its size and beautiful shape.

Originally weighing over 200 carats, its owner spent more than a year perfecting its cut and polish.

Sotheby's said that from 1990 to 2013 the price per carat for a 100-carat perfect diamond had risen from US$125,000 to US$260,000.

The US$19 million low end of the pre-sale estimate for the diamond being offered put the per-carat price at US$190,000.

The diamond led the sale of more than 350 jewels that were expected to sell for a total of more than US$50 million.

Other highlights included a pear-shaped purplish pink diamond weighing 6.24 carats that had a pre-sale estimate of up to US$3.5 million as well as a blue diamond and coloured diamond ring weighing 6.06 carats that were set to bring in as much as US$4.5 million.

Two Cartier Art Deco jewels, a rare platinum, emerald, sapphire, lapis lazuli and diamond pendant necklace as well as a ruby, emerald and diamond bracelet, were also due to be auctioned.

The Baron de Rothschild necklace was expected to sell for up to US$2.2 million and the bracelet had a pre-sale estimate of up to US$1.8 million.

Two Kashmir sapphire and diamond rings were each set to bring in US$1 million or more, according to Sotheby's.

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