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The Pink Legacy sold by Christie's

The famous House of Harry Winston bought a pink diamond for more than $50.4 million at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva, setting a world auction record.

The Pink Legacy (image courtesy of Christie's)

The rectangular-cut, 18.96-carat, fancy-vivid-pink stone went for $50.4 million at the auction Tuesday, becoming the most expensive pink diamond Christie’s has sold, the auction house said. The Pink Legacy isn't the most expensive stone ever sold. That honor is still held by The Pink Star, a 59.60 carat fancy vivid pink diamond that sold in Hong Kong by Sotheby's last year for $71.2 million. It first sold at auction in 2013, when Sotheby's sold it for $83 million to a New York-based diamond cutter. But the buyer defaulted on the deal, so it came back up for auction.

The Pink Legacy (image courtesy of Christie's)

At $2.7 million per carat, it also achieved a world-record average price for a pink diamond at auction, beating the 14.93-carat Pink Promise, which fetched $32.5 million ($2.1 million per carat) at Christie’s Hong Kong in november 2017.

The Pink Legacy (image courtesy of Christie's)

Harry Winston renamed the stone — formerly the Pink Legacy — as the Winston Pink Legacy. It previously belonged to the Oppenheimer family, and had a presale estimate of $30 million to $50 million. Fancy vivid pink diamonds are extremely rare, especially those more than a carat or two. Only four over 10 carats in size have ever come up for auction in 250 years, Christie's said.

The Pink Legacy also has a type IIA classification, meaning it is among the most chemically pure diamonds. Scientists classify diamonds into two main “types” — Type I and Type II. In the latter, the diamond has a particularly rare, almost homogenous colour. “Pink diamonds fall under the rare Type IIa category of diamonds,” Kadakia said. “These are stones that have little if any trace of nitrogen, and make up less than two per cent of all gem diamonds. Type IIa stones are some of the most chemically pure diamonds often with exceptional transparency and brilliance.” It’s rated “vivid”, which is the highest rating for a diamond’s colour, as it displays the optimum hue of the stone. At 18.96 carats, is also the largest fancy vivid pink diamond Christie’s has ever offered.

The gem traces its history to the Oppenheimer family, which adds to its worth. The rectangular-cut stone was found in a South African mine around 100 years ago and has likely not been altered since it was first cut in 1920, Christie's said.

The famed South African diamond dynasty controlled much of the world's trade over three generations. Nicky Oppenheimer sold the family's 40 percent stake in diamond mining company De Beers Group for $5.1 billion to Anglo American in 2011, after taking De Beers private in 2001. The second most expensive diamond ever sold is the Oppenheimer Blue diamond, which had also been in the Oppenheimer family, sold for $57.2 million in 2016.

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