163-carat Angolan diamond sells for $34m, still disappoints

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Geneva – A flawless 163-carat clear diamond fetched $34m (approximately R487m) at an auction at Christie’s in Geneva – but not enough to dispel concerns about the health of the market.

The stone, the centrepiece of a gem-studded necklace designed by De Grisogono founder Fawaz Gruosi, was the largest of its kind ever auctioned. It’s 40% bigger than a diamond Sotheby’s sold in 2013 for only $3m less, said Tobias Kormind, head of London-based online jeweller 77Diamonds.com.

“I am disappointed that the Art of De Grisogono didn’t sell for a more dazzling price,” he said in a statement. “This is a worrying sign for the top end of the diamond market.”

A team of 10 specialists in New York cut the jewel from a rough 404-carat stone discovered last year in Angola, the biggest diamond ever found in that country. The necklace is made of 18 diamonds on one side and two rows of pear-shaped emeralds on the other. It took more than 1 700 hours to create.

Christie’s sold 27 lots for more than $1m on Tuesday, though a quarter of the items it offered went unsold. The total sale raised $106m.

The Geneva fall auction season concludes on Wednesday, when Sotheby’s will auction a pink diamond estimated to be worth as much as $30m.

Sotheby’s holds the record for the most expensive diamond ever auctioned, having sold the 59.6-carat Pink Star for $71m to Hong Kong-based jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook.

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