The biggest white diamond ever to be sold at auction – dubbed “The Rock” – sold for a hammer price of 18.6 million Swiss francs (€17.9 million) – far short of the record for such a jewel.
The 228.31-carat stone, which is bigger than a golf ball, was sold in Geneva by Christie's auction house.
The Rock was extracted from a mine in South Africa in the early 2000s and had been shown in Dubai, Taipei and New York ahead of the sale in Geneva.
There were high expectations that its sale would smash the all-time record for a white diamond – $33.7 million (€32.3 million) in 2017, for a 163.41-carat gem.
But the bidding, which started at 14 million Swiss francs, came to a halt after two minutes at the 18.6 million mark, although the price will increase once taxes and the buyer's premium are added.
The Red Cross gem exceeds estimates
Bidders also competed for the Red Cross Diamond, a cushion-shaped, 205.07-carat canary yellow jewel, which had a price estimate of seven to 10 million Swiss francs (€6.7-9.5 million).
The diamond ended up selling for an eye-watering CHF 14,181,250 (€13.6 million) at the auction.
A large chunk of the proceeds will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is headquartered in Geneva.
The original rough stone was found in 1901 in a De Beers company mine in South Africa. As well as ranking among the largest diamonds in the world, a striking feature is its pavilion, which naturally bears the shape of a Maltese cross.
The stone was first put up for sale in 1918 at Christie’s in London. It was offered by the Diamond Syndicate in aid of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John.
The Red Cross Diamond fetched £10,000, approximately £600,000 (€700,000) in today’s money, bought by the London jewellers S.J. Phillips.
It was sold again by Christie’s in Geneva in 1973, fetching 1.8 million Swiss francs, and is now being offered by the auction house for a third time.
“For nearly half a century, our family has had the privilege of safeguarding the Red Cross Diamond,” the gem’s anonymous private owner said in a statement.
Check out the video above for a closer look at the diamonds on sale in Geneva