On Wednesday, November 11, Sotheby’s Geneva will offer the largest vivid purple pink diamond ever to appear at auction. It has estimated this precious 14.83 carat modified brilliant-cut fancy vivid oval stone, The Spirit of the Rose, will sell for between $23 million and $38 million.
Named after a 20th century Russian ballet, the stone was cut from a 27.85-carat clear pink rough, the largest pink rough diamond ever mined in Russia. The stone was unearthed in 2017 in the Ebelyakh mine in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in northeast Russia. All three stones in the Spectacle collection have been named in honor of the Russian Ballet. The other stones making up this collection include a yellow diamond sold to Graff in December 2019 and a third currently being manufactured by Alrosa.
“This is an extraordinary and incredibly desirable stone and the purple adds to the rarity of its hue – it’s the icing on the cake,” says Tobias Kormind, managing director of Europe’s largest online seller of diamond jewelry 77 Diamonds. “The stone is a Russian national treasure and I expect the sale will garner lively interest from wealthy Russians, who wouldn’t want to see it go to outsiders. Sotheby’s estimate of between $23 million and $38 million is remarkably wide. On the one hand, there have been quite a number of record-breaking diamond auctions during the pandemic, but there is also an atmosphere of uncertainty and unpredictability, not least because of the U.S. elections.”
Pink diamonds were first discovered in India during the early 17th century. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French merchant and adventurer, first made a reference to pink diamonds around this time. In his travel book, Tavernier mentioned a very large pink rough diamond weighing over 200 carats, shown to him by Moghuls in the Kingdom of Golconda in 1642. This diamond, named ‘The Grand Table’ was valued at 600,000 rupees at the time, and is still considered to have been the largest pink diamond recorded to date.
Since their discovery in the early 17th century, pink diamonds have also been mined in Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, Canada, Australia and, of course, Russia. It is thought that around 80% of the world’s pink diamonds now originate from the Argyle mine in Kimberley, Western Australia. Out of the mine’s 20 million carat annual output, only 0.1% are classified as pink diamonds, attesting to their rarity.
The current record for the most expensive pink diamond sold at auction is the 59.60 carat Chow Tai Fook Pink Star, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2017 for $71.2 million.
“When you consider that the most expensive diamond ever sold was the CTF Pink Star in 2017 and that The Spirit Of The Rose is around a quarter of that size, then a $38 million estimate seems high and suggests the color of this diamond is truly exceptional,” said Kormind. “The auction of this stone demonstrates that not all the world’s important pink diamonds originate from Australia’s famous Argyle mine, which on Tuesday, November 3, closed after 37 years. There are other sources for top pink diamonds.”
Unlike white diamonds, colored diamonds obtain their hues from chemical disturbances in the earth during their formation process. The varied colors originate from trace elements that interfere with the carbon crystal formation within the diamond. For example, the presence of nitrogen creates yellow diamonds, and boron forms blue diamonds. Curiously, there are no trace elements found in pink diamonds. Instead, the cause of the pink hue is thought to be caused by a distortion in the diamond’s crystal lattice, created by intense heat and great pressure after the stone’s formation in the earth. This distortion displaces many carbon atoms from their normal positions and alters the qualities of light reflected by the diamond – resulting in us observing the stone as pink. As with other colored diamonds, pink diamonds are graded on their color by the Gemological Institute of America using the classing: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense and Fancy Vivid. Similarly, to other colored diamonds, Fancy Vivid is are the most sought-after color.
Prior to the sale, The Spirit of the Rose was exhibited in Hong Kong, Taipei and Geneva.