GENEVA — The Sun-Drop Diamond of South Africa, a giant pear-shaped yellow gem weighing 110.3 carats, has sold for more than $10.9 million at auction Tuesday, beating previous records for a jewel of its type.
Including commission the unidentified telephone bidder paid almost $12.4 million for the gem, putting it within the $11 million to $15 million range Sotheby's had estimated before the sale.
"It's a record for a yellow diamond at auction," said David Bennett, the head of Sotheby's jewelry division.
The diamond was sold by New York-based company Cora International, which discovered the jewel in South Africa last year.
Gemologists had rated it as fancy vivid yellow — the highest possible color grading. Yellow diamonds are created by nitrogen impurities being trapped within carbon molecules and hardening over the course of millions of years.
Other lots at the $70 million sale in Geneva's Beau-Rivage hotel included a colorless cushion-shaped diamond weighing 38.88 carats that sold for almost $7 million, including commission.
A 12.01-carat emerald from Colombia's Muzo mine sold for $1.4 million, while a blue diamond ring was snapped up for $4.3 million.
However, several precious jewels — including an elaborate gold and diamond 'peace dove' brooch, a blue diamond ring estimated at over $7.5 million, and a suite of imperial jewels — failed to find a buyer.
The set comprising a necklace, brooch and pair of earrings was given by the Ottoman Empire's Sultan Abdul Hamid II to the wife of the Khedive of Egypt in the late 19th century.
Sotheby's said some of the gems may have been part of a peace offering given by Russian Czar Peter the Great's wife Catherine to Ottoman Sultan Ahmed II in 1711. A bid of $9.3 million wasn't enough.