$50 million Pink Legacy diamond sets new record at Geneva auction

Christie’s jewelry department head Rahul Kadakia holds the hammer during the sale of The Pink Legacy on Tuesday, November 13, in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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$50 million Pink Legacy diamond sets new record at Geneva auction

  • ‘This stone is for me the Leonardo da Vinci of diamonds’
  • Christie’s said only four vivid pink diamonds of over 10 carats have ever been offered at auction

GENEVA: An exceptionally rare pink diamond of nearly 19 carats fetched 50.3 million Swiss francs ($50 million) at auction in Geneva Tuesday, Christie’s said, setting a new per-carat record for a stone of its kind.
The Pink Legacy, which once belonged to the Oppenheimer family who for decades ran the De Beers diamond-mining company, was snapped up by American luxury brand Harry Winston, part of the Swiss Swatch group.
“$2.6 million per carat. That is a world record per carat for a pink diamond,” said Francois Curiel, head of Christie’s in Europe, of the price that included all fees and commissions.
“This stone is for me the Leonardo da Vinci of diamonds.”
The 18.96-carat diamond was discovered in a South African mine around a century ago, Christie’s said. It was probably cut in the 1920s and has not been altered since.
The stone was immediately rechristened the “Winston Pink Legacy” by its buyers.
Christie’s international head of jewelry, Rahul Kadakia, described it as “one of the world’s greatest diamonds.”
The rectangular-cut stone has been graded “fancy vivid” — the highest possible grade of color intensity — as it has no trace of another hue like purple, orange or brown.
Most pink diamonds weigh less than one carat and those in the top color category with more than 10 carats are virtually unheard of at auction houses.
The Pink Legacy is classed as Type IIa, meaning it is extremely chemically pure, a category only two percent of diamonds fall into.
“These are stones that have little if any trace of nitrogen,” said Kadakia, adding that this often gives Type IIa diamonds “exceptional transparency and brilliance.”
“Imagine a domino that you have cut the corners off of,” Jean-Marc Lunel, an international jewelry specialist at Christie’s, recently said, describing the stone’s unusual shape.
He pointed out that the diamond has a “classical so-called emerald cut” — standing out from the typical cuts used today, which are more rounded and multi-faceted.
The classic rectangular cut is traditionally used for white stones, but is rare for pink diamonds.
Christie’s said the Pink Legacy is “the largest and finest Fancy Vivid Pink diamond ever offered at auction by the company,” calling the stone “incomparable.”
“It is probably the most beautiful (specimen) ever presented at public auction,” Lunel said.
Christie’s said only four vivid pink diamonds of over 10 carats have ever been offered at auction.
One of them, the nearly 15-carat Pink Promise, was sold last November at a Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for $32.5 million.
That amounts to $2.176 million per carat, which was previously the world auction record price per carat for any pink diamond.
The Pink Legacy’s record-smashing price accounted for nearly half the takings at Tuesday’s auction, which saw total sales of more than $110 million, according to Christie’s spokeswoman Alexandra Kindermann.
While 86 percent of the lots found a buyer, a big heart-shaped white diamond of 53 carats, expected to fetch around $3 to 5 million, went unsold.
Another Geneva auction is set cause a buzz on Wednesday when Marie Antoinette’s diamonds and pearls go under the hammer at Sotheby’s.
The dazzling treasures, which have not been seen in public for two centuries, are part of a 100-piece collection held by the Italian royal House of Bourbon-Parma.


Philippines’ Duterte pestered again as gecko stalls speech

Updated 20 September 2019

Philippines’ Duterte pestered again as gecko stalls speech

  • In a previous speech lambasting the Catholic clergy, a fly kept buzzing around him and landed on his forehead
  • While attacking the political opposiion during an election campaign, a big cockroach crawled up his shoulder and down his shirt

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte just keeps getting bugged during his public speeches.
A noisy gecko was the latest wildlife contributor to an address by Duterte, interrupting the leader on Thursday evening just as he launched another tirade at human rights groups critical of his bloody war on drugs.
The reptile’s persistence caused laugher in the crowd of mostly soldiers, causing Duterte stop mid-sentence, turn to his left and pause for a while to see what the off-camera commotion was.
“You brought a gecko here?” he asked an official sitting behind him, drawing laughs.
Geckos are common across Southeast Asia. The small lizard-like reptiles are known for their ability to produce various loud sounds, from barks to chirps, to communicate or when threatened.
While activists accuse Duterte of cowing his opponents into silence, reptiles and insects have no qualms about pestering him during his often hours-long, televised addresses.
A big cockroach crawled up his shoulder and down his shirt during a speech in May when he was lambasting an opposition party ahead of a national election. He joked the cockroach was its supporter.
Two months later, a fly kept buzzing around him and landing on his forehead, just as he was berating his rivals in the Catholic clergy. He said in jest that the fly was acting on their orders.