- An unmounted cushion-shaped Golconda diamond, weighing 76.02 carats.
A dazzling diamond of Indian origin that belonged a member of a European royal family sold for $21.5 million at a Christie’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday.
The white stone, named after Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1972-1962) stands out for its size, its clarity and its historical importance. The price it attracted at the auction was a world record for a colorless diamond. Christie’s had expected the diamond, which weighs a whopping 76.02 carats, to sell for between $15 million and $25 million.
It didn’t disclose the name of the buyer.
“It’s the size of a quail’s egg,” says Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s head of jewellery in Switzerland and America. Colorless and internally flawless, the stone stands out for its purity.
It’s rare for a gem of this kind to be on public sale. Mr. Kadakia places it in a similar league to the legendary Koh-i-Noor, which is now part of Great Britain’s crown jewels.
What makes the Archduke Joseph Diamond so valuable is also its history. It originates from the mines of Golconda, in what is today India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. This is where many of the world’s most precious and famous diamonds come from, including the Koh-i-Noor and the Hope Diamond.
A favorite of India’s Mughal rulers, Golconda was one of the earliest known diamond mines in the world. Stones sourced there, in the damp soil, near the banks of a river, are known for their purity.
It’s unclear when or how, exactly, Archduke Joseph got hold of the diamond. The archduke, who belonged to the House of Hapsburg, passed it on to his son in the 1930s before it was sold to an unknown buyer.
After going missing for a few decades, it resurfaced at an auction in the early 1960s and again in 1993, when it went under the hammer at a Christie’s auction for $6.5 million. It was sold privately for an unknown sum to a diamond collector 12 years ago.
“People always ask: are diamond a good investment? Here is the answer,” says Mr. Kadakia.