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GENEVA (Reuters) - A huge and rare pink diamond could fetch more than $60 million at auction in November as collectors chase exceptional pieces in a strong international jewelry market, Sotheby's said on Wednesday.
The "Pink Star", which weighs 59.60 carats, is the most valuable diamond offered at auction, it said, showing the oval stone with the top grading of vivid pink amid tight security at a luxury hotel.
"It is full of fire and light. If it sells it will be a record price for any gemstone so far at auction," David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewelry division in Europe and the Middle East, told Reuters in Geneva, where it will be the star lot of the November 13 sale.
"The top end in all categories in auction prices are very, very strong. People are seeking the very rare, the exceptional, the outstanding. This stone is," he said.
The current record is held by the "Graff Pink", a 24.78 carat fancy intense pink diamond bought by Laurence Graff, the London-based jeweler known as "The King of Diamonds", at a 2010 auction for 45.44 million Swiss francs ($45.75 million then).
The "Pink Star" was cut and polished from a 132.5 carat rough diamond mined by De Beers somewhere in Africa in 1999, according to Sotheby's, which said it had no information on the exact geographic origin.
The stone, mounted on a ring, was first sold in 2007 and the current owner remains anonymous, a Sotheby's spokeswoman said.
Eric Valdieu, a former Christie's jewel expert now of Valdieu Fine Arts, recalls seeing the "Pink Star" displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 2003.
"The buyers of a stone like this are very few, international fortunes in Latin America, Asia or the Middle East," he said.
Rival Christie's is offering three jewels from the collection of Bolivian tycoon Simon Itturi Patino among the pieces going under the hammer at its Geneva sale on November 12.
The pieces, including a 1930s emerald and diamond necklace by French jeweler Cartier estimated at $7-$10 million, feature rare gems and embody the taste of "The King of Tin" who founded the family dynasty, the private auction house owned by French billionaire Francois Pinault said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The Patino family had extraordinary things, objects which dealers and private collectors will go after with gusto," Valdieu said.
Editing by Alison Williams