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White Diamond Sells for $16.2 Million at Sotheby's in Geneva

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Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- A rare flawless diamond, billed as the largest of its kind to come up for auction, sold for $16.2 million, after the buyer's premium, at a Sotheby's sale in Geneva, Switzerland.

The white, brilliant-cut diamond, weighing 84.37 carats, was the second-most expensive jewel ever auctioned and at $191,980 a carat, fetched the highest price per carat ever paid for a white diamond at auction, Sotheby's said. The buyer was Georges Marciano, the founder of clothing company Guess? Inc., who named the stone the Chloe Diamond after his 12-year-old daughter. The seller was Ron Cohen of U.S.-based Clean Diamonds Inc.

``It has the highest possible grading you can get from the Gemological Institute of America, coupled with the fact that a brilliant-cut diamond is the most difficult of all cuts to achieve from a rough diamond,'' David Bennett, head of Sotheby's jewelry department in Europe and the Middle East, said before the sale.

The diamond exceeded its high estimate of $16 million. The auction record for any jewel was set in 1995 when Sotheby's sold a 100.1-carat stone called the Star of the Season for $16.5 million, including commission. Prices of quality diamonds have doubled during the past three years as bonuses in financial centers have risen and new collectors from surging economies such as Russia and India have entered the market. `Triple X'

The diamond auctioned tonight has the top D-color grade, meaning the stone is of the finest white. It also has the ``triple X'' designation from the Gemological Institute of America for the excellence of its cut, polish and symmetry. A recent discovery from Africa, the stone has never come up at auction before.

``It's a very rare diamond,'' said Ziad Al-Ahmadi, a rough- diamond dealer and co-founder of Matrix Diamond Technology in Antwerp, Belgium. ``The only other stone of around that size and quality I know of was a 90.97-carat stone cut a few years ago and it could well be that there are only two or three round-shaped polished diamonds of this size and quality in existence.''

Among the other items that sold tonight was a fancy vivid blue diamond, weighing 4.16 carats, mounted on a ring. The piece was bought for $4.7 million after the buyer's premium. The stone had a pre-commission high estimate of $4.3 million. A diamond- and-ruby parure made by Asprey sold for $2.1 million, compared with its top estimate of $1.8 million. An emerald-and-diamond bracelet once owned by the Duchess of Windsor fetched $1 million.

Buoyant Market

There are no indications that turbulence on global stock markets is taking its toll on the jewelry market, Bennett said.

The auction result ``shows the jewelry market internationally is very buoyant,'' he said following the sale.

Christie's International tomorrow will hold its Magnificent Jewels sale, which will include the largest polished red diamond to appear at auction. The 2.26 carat fancy purplish red diamond set in a ring has a high estimate of $1.5 million.

Among the other items up for sale is an emerald-and-diamond necklace from the collection of Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck, the wife of Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, a 19th- century aristocrat. The piece has a high estimate of $1.3 million.

Sotheby's, incorporated in Delaware, and Christie's International, based in London and owned by the French billionaire Francois Pinault, hold biannual jewelry auctions in Geneva.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dermot Doherty in Geneva at Ddoherty9@bloomberg.net


Last Updated: November 14, 2007 17:45 EST

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