The largest white diamond in the world, “The Rock”, and the famous “Red Cross Diamond”, which was sold for the first time for charity 104 years ago, are the two great stars of the auction organized next week by the British house Christie’s in Geneva, and which has generated great expectations.
“It is the first time that we have presented two diamonds of more than 200 carats in the same auction, and it is probably something that we will not see again,” the head of Christie’s jewelry department in Geneva, Max Fawcett, confessed to Efe on the day. of presentation of the articles to auction for the press and the collectors.
“The Rock”, extracted from a South African mine at the beginning of this century, is going up for sale for the second time since its discovery, and the 300-year-old London house, which mediated the 2006 transaction, expects it to fetch between 20 and 30 million Swiss francs (19-28 million euros) in the auction on the 11th.
This 228.31-carat teardrop-shaped diamond capable of occupying almost the entire palm of the hand was initially sold to a private collector in the United States, who set it in a Cartier necklace, although Christie’s is putting it back up for sale. bare gem, in its splendor and without additions.
a charity diamond
The auction house expects the auction’s other big star to be the 205-carat “Red Cross Diamond,” which Christie’s expects will fetch between 7 and 10 million Swiss francs (6.7 to €9.6 million).
For Christie’s, this diamond, cut in such a way that a Maltese cross can be seen on its crown, is a jewel especially linked to the history of the house, since this is the third time that it has put it up for sale, after the first one a few years ago. a century and the second in 1973.
In 1918 it was sold in the last of a series of auctions held during the First World War to raise humanitarian funds for the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Order of Saint John, and then achieved a price of 10,000 pounds, equivalent to 736,000 euros. current.
“In 1973 it reappeared here in Geneva, being sold for 1.8 million francs (1.7 million euros) to a private collector, and has remained in his family for more than 30 years,” Fawcett told Efe. As in 1918, the sale of this diamond will help finance the humanitarian work of the Red Cross, although in this case it will be an unspecified part of the proceeds, not all of it as it was 104 years ago.
Diamond demand returns with momentum
With the auction in Geneva, Christie’s hopes to maintain the good health of the world market for higher-end jewelry, recovered after a sharp drop in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic. “It was a difficult year for everyone, and we experienced low levels in the jewelry market, but we have experienced an exceptional recovery and now the numbers are the best in the last 10 years,” Fawcett analyzed.
Jewelry, however, has also been affected by the war in Ukraine, given that under normal conditions 40% of diamonds are extracted from mines in Russia, a country affected by multiple trade sanctions. “Without that source available, there has been a huge increase in prices, in the face of high demand from collectors and private buyers,” said the Christie’s expert.
Luxury and great fortunes next to the Mont Blanc bridge
The auction will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva, an exclusive establishment on the shores of Lake Geneva, and although the eyes of many will be on the price that the two great diamonds can reach, there will be another 60 lots to bid on.
Christie’s expects, for example, that a high price will also be achieved for the Fürstenberg tiara, a jewel set with pearls and diamonds made by the famous Austrian designer Gustav Flach and which has been in the hands of the same family for more than a century.
On the presentation day, interested collectors can study their most coveted gems and jewels: although guarded by security personnel, Christie’s staff have no problem removing them from their display cases and showing them up close, on black velvet trays, to the potential buyers.