Ruby sets record, pink diamond and pearls shine at Sotheby's sale

Wed May 13, 2015 3:20pm EDT
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By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - A Burmese ruby weighing 25.59 carats sold for a world record 28.25 million Swiss francs ($30.42 million) at Tuesday's auction that saw strong demand for colored stones and exceptional natural pearls, Sotheby's said.

"The Sunrise Ruby", which has the rare grading of 'pigeon's blood' color, was hotly disputed by two private collectors bidding by telephone, it said, declining to name the anonymous buyer. From a private collection of Cartier jewels, it had been estimated at 11.7 million to 17.5 million Swiss francs.

"A new record price for a ruby," David Bennett, the chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry division who conducted the auction, said as he brought down the hammer to applause.

Bennett later told reporters: "It becomes the most expensive colored gemstone that is not a diamond.

"It completely mesmerized me, in a sense for me it is the stone of my (40-year) career, it's just a magical stone".

A historic pink diamond fetched 14.8 million Swiss francs ($15.94 million). Graded fancy vivid pink, it is believed to have been part of the incredible jewelry collection of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte, niece of France's Emperor Napoleon I, according to the auction house.

"The exquisite 8.72 carat stone only recently resurfaced, having been kept in a bank vault since the 1940s," Sotheby's said. Neither the seller nor the buyer, a man bidding in the center of the room, were identified.

"The market for colored diamonds and precious gemstones has never been stronger, and pink diamonds rank among the rarest of all," Sotheby's said in a statement.   Continued...

A model wears the "Sunrise Ruby", a Burmese ruby weighing 25.59 carats, a Cartier tiara, made in the 1930s and a diamond necklace, weighing 190 carats during an auction preview at Sotheby's auction house in Geneva, Switzerland, May 6, 2015. 
 REUTERS/Denis Balibouse