At Diamond Lighthouse, we’ve spent over 20 years becoming experts at selling diamonds. We’re fascinated by the sale of these precious stones and are constantly blown away by the astronomical prices they sometimes go for. We’ve put together this list of the 10 most expensive diamonds ever sold at auction.
*** Update: this past April, a 100 ct “Perfect” Emerald Cut sold at Sotheby’s for $22 million – which would bump #7 down to #8! ***
10. The Cora Sun-Drop Diamond
Found in a South African kimberlite pipe in 2010, the Cora Sun-Drop is the largest known yellow pear-shaped diamond in the world. This 110.3-carat rock was kept in the vault of the London Natural History Museum for six months before being sold at an auction in Geneva by luxury broker Sotheby’s for $10.9 million.
9. The Clark Pink Diamond
This 9-carat cushion-cut fancy vivid pink diamond was part of the estate of the late heiress and philanthropist Huguette Clarke and auctioned off at Christie’s in New York in 2012. Originally, Christie’s thought they’d get $6 to $8 million for the diamond, but that estimate turned out to be a bit low. Because of Clarke’s reclusive life, with her jewels having been kept in a vault since the 1940s, the auction drew some unexpected attention. The diamond ended up selling for $15.7 million. Christie’s said at the time it was the most valuable pink diamond ever sold.
8. The Chloe Diamond
At 87.3 carats, the Chloe Diamond is the largest round brilliant cut ever sold at auction. It was first purchased by Clean Diamonds Inc., from The Endiama Group, a state-run diamond mining organization in Angola that makes sure only conflict-free Angolan diamonds enter the market. Clean Diamonds, Inc., consigned the diamond with Sotheby’s in Geneva where it was purchased by Georges Marciano of Guess? Jeans. Marciano paid $16.2 million for the diamond and named it after his daughter.
7. The Archduke Joseph Diamond
This 76.45-carat cushion-shaped brilliant diamond was given a D color grade by the Gemological Institute of America. That’s the highest grade a diamond can receive and means the diamond is completely colorless. It also received the GIA’s second highest clarity grade, an IF (for Internally Flawless.) That makes the Archduke Joseph the largest DIF diamond ever graded by the GIA. Found in the same mine as the Koh-I-Noor, and the Hope Diamond, the Archduke Joseph was named after its first recorded owner, Archduke Joseph August of Austria. He had it until 1936 when it was sold to an anonymous buyer. Over the next 60 years, the diamond appeared at multiple auctions but wasn’t actually sold until 2012. An anonymous bidder at Christie’s auction house purchased the diamond for around $21.5 million.
6. The Perfect Pink Diamond
Sold by Christie’s Hong Kong auction house, this fancy intense pink rectangular-cut diamond weighed 14.23 carats when it was sold in 2010. At the time, Christie’s had sold only 18 pink diamonds larger than 10 carats in their 244 years of holding auctions. After an intense bidding war, the diamond was sold to an anonymous buyer for $23.2 million. At the time, it was the most expensive jewel ever sold in Asia.
5. The Wittelsbach Diamond
Originally, this diamond weighed 35.56 carats and was graded by the GIA as a fancy, deep grayish-blue diamond (the same color as the famous Hope Diamond) with VS2 clarity. The diamond’s history goes back as far as 1722 with its first recorded mention being when Maria Amalia of Austria, whose family owned the gem, married Charles of Bavaria, a member of the Wittelsbach family. From 1806 until 1918, the jewel was mounted on the Bavarian royal crown. During the Great Depression, the Wittelsbach family tried to sell the diamond, but didn’t succeed until 1951. It stayed in a private collection until 2008 when London jeweler Laurence Graff purchased it at auction for a record price of $23.4 million. Graff had the stone recut to remove damage and enhance the color. Though the recut led to a better GIA grade, experts in the diamond industry criticized the move for removing over 350 years of history. Graff sold the diamond to Sheikh Hamad bin Chalifa of Qatar in 2011.
4. The Winston Legacy Diamond
A relatively new diamond, this massive 101-carat pear-shaped gem is named for its first and only recorded buyer, Harry Winston. The Winston Legacy was cut from a 236-carat rough that came out of De Beers’ Jwaneng mine in Botswana. Not only is this giant jewel completely flawless, the GIA grading report certifies it as a type IIa, a super-rare diamond type that makes up only 2 percent of the world’s supply. Harry Winston purchased the diamond at Christie’s auction house in Geneva for $26.7 million in their first big move after being acquired by luxury watchmaker Swatch.
3. The Magnificent Oval Diamond
This 118.28-carat oval-cut diamond is about the size of a chicken egg and broke a world record when it sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction house in October of last year. It remains the largest D-color flawless white diamond ever sold at auction. The Magnificent Oval was cut from a 299 carat rough diamond that was discovered in an undisclosed African mine in 2011. An anonymous buyer purchased the gem over the phone for a staggering $30.6 million.
2. The Princie Diamond
Another diamond with history behind it, the Princie was discovered about 300 years ago in the Golconda mines. It first belonged to the royal family of Hyderabad who held onto it until 1960 when the then Nizam of Hyderabad sold it at auction to the jewelers Van Cleef and Arpels. It was sent to their Paris store where it was given the name “Princie” for the son the Maharani of Baroda. It then wasn’t seen by the public again until a 2013 auction at Christie’s in New York. Though Christie’s expected the Princie to fetch $45 million, it was purchased by an anonymous collector for a mere $39.3 million. It was still a record-breaking price, so we imagine Christie’s didn’t lose too much sleep over it.
1. The Graff Pink Diamond
The Graff Pink Diamond is the most expensive single jewel ever sold at auction. The GIA classifies it as an ultra-rare fancy intense pink IIa. Not much in known about the history of the Graff Pink. It was sold to an anonymous collector by jeweler Harry Winston sometime in the 1950s and wasn’t seen again until its most recent auction in 2010. It was expected to sell for $27-38 million, but beat all estimates when Laurence Graff purchased it for $46 million, and gave it a name for the first time in history.
Honorable Mention: The Pink Star Diamond
Formerly known as the Steinmetz Pink, this 59.6-carat fancy vivid pink was first mined by De Beers in South Africa in 1999. It’s the largest known vivid pink diamond in the world and took 20 months to cut. The Pink Star was auctioned by Sotheby’s in Geneva last November and with its record $83.02 million sale price, it should have easily claimed the top spot on this list. Why didn’t it? The buyer couldn’t come up with the money and defaulted on the purchase. Sotheby’s has since acquired the diamond into their inventory with a listed value of about $72 million.
After seeing all these astounding diamonds selling for astronomical prices, no one would blame you for wanting something a little fancier to call your own. If you think your diamond jewelry could use an upgrade, call Diamond Lighthouse at (212) 776-0003, or visit our website. With our expertise and over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry, we’ve built an exclusive network of expert diamond buyers and dealers who want to buy your diamond jewelry. Since we always push our buyers for the best prices, Diamond Lighthouse is the only way to guarantee you get the best value for your diamonds. Even if you don’t have a record-breaking diamond in your jewelry box, Diamond Lighthouse could help you break a few personal records of your own.