The Pink Star Diamond shattered every price record when Sotheby’s sold it for a staggering $71.2 million in April 2017 at a Hong Kong auction. It’s the single most expensive diamond or jewel sold at auction.
At 59.60 carats (about the size of a strawberry), the fancy vivid pink internally flawless diamond has none comparable in size and quality. So how can you assess a price for something that is essentially priceless?
Industry experts say it commands top dollar because we won’t see another like it in quality and size—or even close. “A vivid pink diamond this size is a total freak of nature,” declared Tom Moses, executive vice president of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). “There are very few important pink diamonds over 20 carats. It is less likely that we will see more important sizable pinks. As the mines age, the deeper the hole, historically the yield seems to be lower and lower.”
How Rare are Vivid Pink Diamonds?
Consider the statistics: For the past 30 years, the Argyle mine in Western Australia was the world’s main source of pink diamonds (supplying about 80 percent of pink diamonds), and out of the mine’s 20 million carat annual output, only 0.1% are classified as pink diamonds. What’s more, only a handful of those stones were over a few carats in size. That mine was depleted and closed in 2020. Now the supply of pink diamonds is even more sporadic and rare.
The history of the CTF Pink Star
The Pink Star was uncovered by De Beers in Africa in 1999. Over a two-year period, the original 132.5 carat rough diamond was meticulously cut and polished and transformed into a flawless vivid pink diamond, type IIa. That means it’s essentially perfect.
It was originally named the Steinmetz Pink after the diamond company that purchased it. Such a rare and beautiful jewel, it was on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.
Like many historic, named diamonds, the Pink Star also has an interesting—and volatile history. When Steinmetz offered the diamond at a Sotheby’s Geneva sale in 2013, it sold for $83 million. The buyer, New York diamond cutter Isaac Wolf, defaulted on the payment. Since Sotheby’s had a guarantee of $60 million on the diamond, it was forced to acquire the pricey pink diamond. Lucky for the auction house, the stone’s rare beauty and size made it famous—and desirable.
When Sotheby’s offered it in April 2017, there was a bidding war among three players. The victor: Hong Kong jeweler Chow Tai Fook, who named it the CTF Pink after the company’s initials and founder.
Tracking Pink Diamonds Since the Mid-17th Century
The allure of pink diamonds has captured people’s attention for centuries. They were first documented by the French merchant and adventurer Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, who, in the 1640s recorded seeing a very large pink rough diamond weighing over 200 carats while traveling in India’s Kingdom of Golconda. That region was known for discovering the world’s most exceptional and famous diamonds.
Over the subsequent centuries, pink diamonds remained scarce. They were occasionally uncovered in South Africa and Brazil, and in modern times came largely from the Argyle mine. Pink diamonds get their color from intense heat and pressure during the stone’s formation in the earth which distorts the crystal lattice and results in the pink hue.
Record Breaking Pink Diamonds at Auction
The Pink Star broke every record in terms of size, quality and price. The closest top-quality pink diamonds sold at auction don’t even come near it. The Winston Pink Legacy, an 18.96 carat vivid pink, sold for $50.7 million at Christie’s in November 2018. Until that sale, the Graff Pink held the record as the most expensive pink at auction: Laurence Graff dropped a record breaking $46.1 million for the 24.78 carat fancy intense pink diamond at Sotheby’s in November 2010.
The other top-priced pinks include the Princie Diamond, a 34.65 carat fancy intense pink diamond (note, it is not rated as vivid), which Christie’s sold for $39.3 million in April 2013. The Pink Promise, a 14.93 carat fancy vivid pink diamond, fetched $32.5 million at Christie’s Hong Kong in November 2017.
Auction prices are based on the market supply and demand. Over the past decade, we have seen the price of pink diamonds (all colored diamond) skyrocket for a few reasons. First off, more people know about fancy-colored diamonds and understand the rarity of these stones. Secondly, there is more wealth in the world—and more people who are seeking unique luxury goods and diversified investments.
The CTF Pink Star is a diamond that will go down in the history books, not just because of its record price, but it’s mesmerizingly beautiful.