Epic Diamonds

The Red Cross Diamond Continues to Give Back After 104 Years

This historical diamond was just sold at Christie’s Auction.

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The Red Cross Diamond is a genuinely remarkable gem, even as compared to some of history’s rarest diamond finds. As for its differentiators, the most obvious is its size; at 205.07 carats, the Red Cross Diamond is among the largest cut diamonds on earth. Also, its canary yellow color, graded as “fancy intense yellow,” is almost unheard of in a diamond this size. Then, of course, there’s its cut, an unconventional cushion shape with distinct pavilion faceting that looks like a perfect Maltese cross when viewed from the top. If this all weren’t enough, since the first time the diamond was sold, its proceeds have benefitted the Red Cross, a tradition that extends to its third transaction, more than 100 years later.

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“This is the third time in over 100 years that Christie’s presents this extraordinary canary yellow diamond of 205.07 carats. This is a very special bond and tremendous honor. Part of the proceeds of the sale will benefit the International Committee of the Red Cross, for a cause that is even more poignant in the midst of current events.”, said François Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Europe and Head of the Luxury Department.

red cross diamond auction christie's
Courtesy of Christie’s

The rough diamond from which the stone originates was found in 1901 in the famous Kimberley Mine in South Africa. It is said to have weighed around 375 carats. There was a long and meticulous process to cut the rough stone to the current shape we know today. After being cut, the diamond was presented as a gift at the art sale held by Christie’s London in 1918 to aid the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John, which uses the Maltese cross as its symbol. The entire sale raised £50,000 (approximately over three million pounds today), and The Red Cross Diamond was the highlight of the auction, achieving a staggering £10,000 (about £600,000+ today) from the famous London firm S.J. Phillips.

55 years after its first sale, The Red Cross Diamond appeared again at Christie’s Geneva on November 21, 1973. It was sold into private ownership for more than USD 1.8 Million.

Recently, 104 years after its first sale, the Red Cross Diamond was again auctioned by Christe’s Geneva on May 11, 2022, where it sold for $14.3 million USD. To honor this famous diamond’s long-time history of benefiting the Red Cross, part of the sale revenue will again be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross.