Pink diamond sells for $49m at Christie's auction

NEW YORK (AFP) - A 34.64-carat pink diamond has sold at auction in New York for nearly US$40 million (S$49.4 million), setting a new record for Christie's auction house.

Dubbed the "Princie Diamond," the gem is "one of the largest and finest pink diamonds in the world," with a "fabulous provenance," Christie's jewelry chief Francois Curiel said ahead of the sale.

An anonymous telephone bidder paid US$39,323,750, or more than US$1 million per carat, for the stone from ancient diamond mines in southern India, the auction house said in a statement on Tuesday.

The pink gem was once owned by the royal family of Hyderabad and since 1960, by the London branch of Van Cleef & Arpels.

The exclusive jewelry firm originally paid £46,000 (S$86,900) for it, equivalent to US$1.3 million today, Christie's said, indicating a hefty profit after Tuesday's sale.

All told, bidders paid more than US$80 million for the jewels at the New York auction, including just under US$4.5 million for a 30.32 carat rectangular cut D color diamond and US$3.3 million for a Harry Winston diamond ring.

Previously, the most paid at Christie's for a diamond was US$24.3 million, for the 31-carat Wittelsbach diamond in 2008.