GENEVA — Geneva's jewelry auctions, held in five-star hotels along its elegant lakefront, can seem a continent if not a world away from the grim austerity gripping much of Europe. Two out-of-this-world diamonds are being auctioned off this week, joining a long list of other fabulous jewels, watches and other luxury goods sold in Geneva. Here's a look at the city's most eye-popping diamonds:
On Tuesday, Christie's auctions off the Archduke Joseph Diamond, which is expected to fetch more than $15 million. The 76.02 carat diamond, with perfect color and internally flawless clarity, came from the ancient Golconda mines in India. Its value just keeps on rising: In 1993, Christie's sold the same diamond here for $6.5 million. Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry for Christie's Americas and Switzerland, called it "one of the world's most famous and desirable diamonds to appear at auction."
FANCY DEEP BLUE
Sotheby's on Wednesday will auction what it calls an exceptionally rare fancy deep blue briolette diamond of 10.48 carats expected to get up to $4.5 million. Also on the block — a conch pearl, enamel and diamond Cartier bracelet that formerly belonged to Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain that's expected to sell for up to $1.4 million.
In May 2012, Sotheby's sold the 34.98 carat Beau Sancy diamond to an anonymous bidder for $9.7 million. Marie de Medici had worn it at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henry IV in France in 1610. Then the diamond passed among the royal families in France, England, the Netherlands and Prussia. It was sold by the Royal House of Prussia.
Sotheby's also sold for $3.87 million the Murat Tiara, a pearl-and-diamond tiara created for the marriage of a prince whose ancestors included the husband of Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. Christie's auctioned off a 32.08-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring that sold for $6.7 million, a world record price for a ruby sold at auction.
In November 2011, the Sun-Drop Diamond of South Africa, a giant pear-shaped yellow gem weighing 110.3 carats, sold for more than $10.9 million at auction, beating previous records for a jewel of its type. Including commission, the unidentified telephone bidder paid almost $12.4 million for the gem. Other lots at the $70 million sale included a white cushion-shaped diamond weighing 38.88 carats that sold for almost $7 million, including commission.
In May 2011, Christie's fetched $10.9 million for a 56-carat heart-shaped diamond that was internally flawless and $7.1 million for a 130-carat Burmese sapphire. Sotheby's got $12.7 million for a rare emerald-and-diamond tiara that a fabulously wealthy German prince, Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, commissioned for his second, Russian-born wife around 1900. An intensely pink 11-carat diamond from the mines of India sold for $10.8 million.
In November 2010, a rare pink diamond smashed the world record for a jewel at auction, selling for more than $46 million to well-known London jeweler Laurence Graff. Four bidders competed for the pink diamond, which was last sold 60 years earlier by New York jeweler Harry Winston. The seller chose to remain anonymous. The 24.78-carat "fancy intense pink" diamond immediately became known as "The Graff Pink."