The World's Most Famous Pink Diamonds
Natural pink diamonds are among the most valuable and rare of Earth’s treasures. Top, vivid-colored stones can bring more than $2 million per carat at major auctions. Such prices come from their rarity as much as their beauty – out of the 20 million carats of diamonds mined each year, only 0.1 percent are pink, and only one in 1,000,000 diamonds possess a color deep enough to qualify as fancy vivid.
The color of 99.5% of pink diamonds comes from distortion in their crystal structure, not from trace elements, such as nitrogen, which causes yellow color in diamonds or boron, which causes blue. In pink diamonds containing nitrogen, the color is generally concentrated within parallel narrow bands called glide planes, lamellae, or pink/brown graining, depending upon the color. These lines are visible under a microscope and cutters orient them perpendicular to the table to maximize body color.
“We know that plastic deformation is associated with the vast majority of diamonds with these colors, but we still do not know the actual atomic structure of the defect causing the color,” says Dr. Christopher M. Breeding, senior research scientist with the GIA, who notes that the nanometers pink color is caused by a broad absorption band centered at 550 nanometer (nm) in spectroscopic analysis. Spectroscopic analysis is an important gemological tool to measure the impurities and other defects within a diamond (and other gemstones) that give rise to specific absorption peaks or bands in the visible spectrum. The researchers said that there is no known method of replicating plastic deformation with the 550 nm absorption band by a laboratory treatment or growth process.
Color distribution of 90,000+ pink, purple, brown, orangy pink, and red diamonds graded at GIA between 2008 and 2016.
Left: Unmodified pink and purplish-pink diamonds dominated within this color range, while diamonds with a brown color description were submitted in lower quantities.
Right: Saturation distribution of unmodified and modified pink diamonds. A majority of the unmodified pink samples (54%) are in the Faint to Light color range.
The World’s Most Famous Pink Diamonds
Graff Pink Diamond
The Graff Pink Diamond is a rare 23.88 carat internally flawless vivid pink that has been described as one of the greatest diamonds ever discovered. The origins of the brilliant gem are unknown, but somewhere along the line, it ended up in renowned jeweler Harry Winston’s collection in the 1950s. The jewel was never seen in public again until 2010 when it went up for auction by Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Sale in Geneva.
Initial auction predictions estimated the diamond would fetch between $27 million and $38 million. After all was said and done, diamond dealer Laurence Graff was the lucky bidder of the stone at $46 million making this gem among the most expensive single jewels to have ever been publicly sold at a public auction.
Once acquired, Graff saw that the diamond still had massive potential, and decided to have the diamond re-cut and re-polished, which could have considerably reduced the stone's value. Thankfully, by shaving the diamond from 24.78 carats to 23.88, Graff managed to bring out the diamond's maximum potential, transforming it into a truly breathtaking, rectangular cut, Internally Flawless, Vivid Pink gem.
The Perfect Pink
Flanked on each side by two clear diamonds mounted in an 18k rose gold and white gold setting, the Perfect Pink is a fancy intense 14.23 carat VVS2 diamond that sold for $23,165,968 at Christie's Hong Kong. At the time of this stone’s sale in 2010, it was one of only 18 pink diamonds weighing more than 10 carats to have ever appeared at auction. Of those 18 diamonds, it is the only one that had ever been graded as Fancy Intense Pink.
Apollo is one of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been recognized as a god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the Sun and light, and poetry.
Artemis, in Greek religion, is the goddess of wild animals, the hunt and vegetation, and chastity and childbirth. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and the daughter of Zeus and Leto. Among the rural populace, Artemis was the favorite goddess.
Perfectly matched in size, cut, and tonality, the Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink are among the rarest of natural-colored diamonds. On the color scale, the rarest diamonds are red, followed by blue, then pink. The stones were mounted as a set of earrings and sold together for $57.4 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction in 2017. David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewelry Division, called the set “by far the most important pair of earrings ever offered at auction.”
Winston Pink Legacy
This dazzling Pink Legacy is an 18.96 carat fancy vivid diamond. It was discovered in South Africa around 1918 and became a prized possession of the Oppenheimer family, who operated De Beers. Fancy vivid diamonds are the most vivid and saturated color grade possible for a gem. Christie’s put the stone up for auction in 2018 and sold at a jaw-dropping $50.66 million to Harry Winston, Inc. Only one in 1,000,000 diamonds possess a color deep enough to qualify as fancy vivid, and those exceeding 10 carats are virtually unheard of. Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s international head of Jewellery said of the diamond, “You may see this color in a pink diamond of less than one carat. But this is almost 19 carats and it’s as pink as can be. It’s unbelievable.”
Argyle Pink Jubilee
The Pink Jubilee is the most famous pink diamond produced by the Rio Tinto Argyle operation. It is the biggest rough pink diamond ever found in Australia. It weighed a whopping 12.76 carats in its rough state when it was discovered in 2011.
The gem had undergone a painstaking process to achieve 8.01 carats, but an issue prevented the Argyle Pink Jubilee from making the grade for the 2012 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender. During the diamond’s cutting process in Perth, there was found to be a major internal fault line which made it impossible to overcome. This affected the stone’s clarity grade and its value.
The owners made the decision to preserve its uniqueness and donate the diamond to the Melbourne Museum. The managing director of Rio Tinto at the time, David Peever, stated that “The journey of the Argyle Pink Jubilee is a remarkable story of buried treasure, global excitement and the mysterious geology of the most concentrated form of wealth on earth. Over 1.8 billion years in the making, the Argyle Pink Jubilee diamond is truly a priceless gem, which will become a permanent record of an important part of Australian mining history.”
The Sweet Josephine
The Sweet Josephine is a 16.08 carat fancy vivid pink diamond that was sold at a Christie's auction in Geneva in November 2015 for $28.5 million, a record price for a jewel of its kind. Mounted in a diamond twin-surround and with a diamond-set hoop, this cushion-shaped ring set a new world-record price for any pink diamond when it sold at Christie’s in Geneva in 2015. Owned by an American family for 15 years prior to the sale, it was named ‘The Sweet Josephine’ by the winning bidder in honor of his seven-year-old daughter.
The Sakura, a purplish-pink fancy vivid, Internally Flawless diamond weighing in at 15.81 carats sold at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for $29.3 million. It’s named after the Japanese word for Cherry Blossom because the color is so well-balanced and strongly saturated. The size is significant because, in the increasingly rarefied world of pink diamonds, large rough stones are almost impossible to find and exceedingly difficult to cut. Fewer than 10% of pink diamonds weigh more than 0.2 carats. Its fancy vivid classification has only been achieved by 4% of pink diamonds.
Spirit of the Rose
The Spirit of the Rose is an ultra-rare purple-pink diamond, which sold for $26.6 million at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva. The 14.83-carat stone took its name from the 1911 Russian ballet "Le Spectre de la rose" and was cut from an even larger rough diamond unearthed by the mining company Alrosa in 2017. Then weighing 27.85 carats, the initial find was believed to be the largest pink crystal ever discovered in the country. It took a year to cut and polish the oval-shaped stone, which went on display in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei before heading to auction.
The diamond contains little to no nitrogen. Benoit Repellin, head of the Geneva auction, said in a press release that the sale was a “testament to the growing appreciation, and awareness of the great scarcity of pink diamonds around the world."
Linneys Argyle Pink Diamond Tiara
The Linneys Argyle Pink Diamond Tiara is a highly feted piece originally designed by the famous royal jewelers ‘Asprey of London’ in 2010. It is comprised of 178 pink stones from the Argyle mine. The design is whimsical, royal, rare, and elegantly modern in a uniquely Euro-Australian way. The 20 carat tiara features a Fancy Vivid pear cut pink diamond at the center, which can be removed and worn as a ring. The tiara is considered to be a conspicuous ambassador of Australian culture and heritage and is valued at over $3 million.
It is regarded as one of the most important items of jewelry in the world which showcases pink diamonds. The tiara was exhibited at Kensington Palace for the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Only 11 international jewelers had the honor of being invited to the exclusive event, with Linneys of Perth being extremely proud to represent Australia, along with 2 others.
The Daria-i-Noor, also spelled Darya-ye Noor, is known as the largest cut diamond in the world, weighing a jaw-dropping 186 carats. Its name means “Sea of Light” has its origins at the Golconda mines in India. This table-cut pale pink diamond is one of the rarest colors to be found in diamonds. This diamond has an intriguing past, to say the least, with various dynasties claiming ownership through invasions and being passed down through bloodlines. Canadian research teams believed that the diamond was cut from the Great Table Diamond, a long-lost magnificent pink diamond. This magnificent jewel is now featured as part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, showcased at the Central Bank of Iran, in Tehran.
The Noor-ul-Ain, also known as “light of the eye,” is a 60-carat oval brilliant-cut pink diamond that is believed to be cut from The Great Table Diamond, which is the same diamond The Daria-i-Noor is believed to be created from. The Noor-ul-Ain Diamond, a 60-carat gem, was given to Empress Farah Diba in the form of a tiara when she married Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last shah of Iran, that was worn on her wedding day in 1958. The centerpiece of the tiara is the famous pink diamond, surrounded by a total of 324 diamonds. The dazzling tiara is featured as part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, showcased at the Central Bank of Iran, in Tehran.
The CTF Pink Star
The CTF Pink Star, formerly the Pink Star, is a 59.6 carat Fancy Vivid Pink diamond. It was first known as the Steinmetz Pink, as the previous owner was The Steinmetz Group, who cut the stone into a mixed cut featuring an oval shape with a brilliant-cut pavilion. It was cut and polished from a 132.5 carat rough diamond, mined from South Africa circa 1999. It took almost two years to complete. In May of 2003, the impressive gemstone was displayed to the public for the first time at a ceremony in Monaco.
In 2014, diamond cutter Isaac Wolf seized the winning bid at the Sotheby’s auction with an offer of about $83.2 million and nearly renamed the diamond The Pink Dream, but Wolf defaulted on payment of the diamond. Sotheby’s had to buy back the diamond for $60 million, having guaranteed that amount to The Steinmetz Group. In 2017, the Pink Star resurfaced at auction and sold for $71.2 million, paid by renowned Hong Kong Jewelry Retailer Chow Tai Fook, who renamed the diamond The CTF Pink Star.
The CTF Pink Star diamond currently holds many impressive records, such as being the biggest pink fancy vivid diamond ever discovered, the most valuable pink diamond in the world, and the most expensive colored diamond to have ever been sold at a public auction, dethroning both the Graff Pink and Oppenheimer Blue Diamond respectively. It is also famous for being extraordinary in size and exceptionally rich in color, surpassing all others known to exist in government, royal, or private collections. It has been described by the Financial Times as “the rarest, finest, most precious stone the world has ever seen.”
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