There are jewels—and then there are jewels. The Hope Diamond. The Star of India. The CTF Pink? If the third gem doesn’t ring a bell, it will now that it’s the most expensive jewel ever sold. As Kelvin Chan reports for the Associated Press, the 59.6-carat pink sparkler was just bought for $71.2 million at an auction in Hong Kong.
The astonishing price sets a new world record, writes Chan—but for its buyer, the gem was worth the cost. It sold after five minutes of heated bidding at a jewelry auction at Sotheby’s to Chow Tai Fook, a Hong Kong-based jewelry company that is one of the world’s largest publicly traded jewelers.
Until it was purchased, the diamond has been known as the Steinmetz Pink, the Pink Dream and the Pink Star. Chalk the confusing change of names up to its various owners. Mined in South Africa in 1999, it took jeweler Steinmetz 20 months to cut it, and it was unveiled in 2003. That year, reported Forbes' Anthony DeMarco, it was sold for what was then a world-record price of $83 million.
The only problem: Its buyer couldn’t pay up. Isaac Wolf, a diamond cutter who claimed he represented an international group in the purchase, defaulted on the stone and Sotheby’s acquired it for the guaranteed price of $60 million. Over the course of that confusing history, its name changed, and in the most recent auction, Sotheby’s sold it under the name of the Pink Star. (Chan reports that all buyers were vetted this time, so there should be no more failure-to-pay snafus.)
Now, the auction house says in a press release, the name will change again. The name CTF Pink is in memory of Chow Tai Fook’s founder. But more striking than its new name is the stone’s almost mesmerizing facets. The flawless stone is the product of a process that’s still a scientific mystery.
As Jane O’Brien reports for the BBC, other colored diamonds look colorful because of chemical impurities that absorb different parts of the visible light spectrum. But pink diamonds are different: Scientists can’t find any impurities in the stones, leaving their origin unclear. Both rare and pleasing to the eye, they’re among the most desirable of the precious stones.
Now that the diamond has a new moniker, it will join other rare stones in Chow Tai Fook’s collection. Perhaps one day it will change hands or even set another world record. A pink diamond by any other name is, after all, just as rare—and this particular rock is ravishing enough to catch the world’s attention without any words at all.