Jewelry

The Five Most Expensive Pink Diamonds

By Catherine Kim

A model displays The CTF Pink Star , a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut pink diamond. Photo by studioEAST/Getty Images.  

History of Pink Diamonds


Pink diamonds were first discovered in India during the early 17th century, in the Kollur mine within the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, which was part of the legendary Golconda kingdom. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French merchant and adventurer, first made a reference to pink diamonds around this time. In his travel book, Tavernier mentioned a very large pink rough diamond weighing over 200 carats, shown to him by Moghuls in the Kingdom of Golconda in 1642. This diamond, named ‘The Grand Table’ was valued at 600,000 rupees at the time, and is still considered to have been the largest pink diamond recorded to date.

Since their discovery in the early 17th century, pink diamonds have also been mined in Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, Canada, Australia and, of course, Russia. It is thought that around 80% of the world’s pink diamonds now originate from the Argyle mine in Kimberley, Western Australia. Out of the mine’s 20 million carat annual output, only 0.1% are classified as pink diamonds, attesting to their rarity. In 2018, the GIA selected a sample of 1,000 pink diamonds graded between 2008 and 2016 and found that 83% weighed less than one carat.

THE “NIJINSKY”, 27.85-CARAT CLEAR PINK ROUGH DIAMOND
THE “NIJINSKY”, 27.85-CARAT CLEAR PINK ROUGH DIAMOND

Why Pink Diamonds are Rare

Unlike white diamonds, colored and pink diamonds obtain their hues from chemical disturbances in the earth during their formation process. The varied colors originate from trace elements that interfere with the carbon crystal formation within the diamond. For example, the presence of nitrogen creates yellow diamonds, and boron forms blue diamonds. Curiously, there are no trace elements found in pink diamonds. Instead, the cause of the pink hue is thought to be caused by a distortion in the diamond’s crystal lattice, created by intense heat and great pressure after the stone’s formation in the earth. This distortion displaces many carbon atoms from their normal positions and alters the qualities of light reflected by the diamond – resulting in us observing the stone as pink.

As with other colored diamonds, pink diamonds are graded on their color by the Gemological Institute of America using the classing: Faint, Very Light, Light, Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Intense, Fancy Vivid. Similarly, to other colored diamonds, Fancy Vivid is are the most sought-after color. In a GIA study conducted in 2022, it was determined that only 2% of pink Type IIa diamonds were graded as Fancy Vivid Pink. Given their rarity, it is unsurprising that the value of pink diamonds has increased considerably over the centuries.

The current record for a pink diamond sold at auction is held by the CTF Pink Star, a 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Pink, Internally Flawless diamond which was auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April 2017 for $71.2 million USD.

What Makes a Pink Diamond?

This is actually an impossible question to answer, as there is no impurity that causes its color, only the evidence that these diamonds have a mutation within their crystal lattice that alters the stone’s molecular structure. With enough of these “defect centers,” the diamond may take on different properties. For example, the diamond could absorb a certain wavelength of green light, resulting in a pink appearance. Other colors, such as green, purple and orange, occur from natural radiation and other common elements within the earth.

Pink Star

Most Expensive Pink Diamond: CTF Pink Star


A 59.60-carat oval mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Pink internally flawless diamond, the CTF Pink Star sold for an astounding HK$553 million ($71.2 million). Besides being the largest Internally Flawless Fancy Vivid Pink diamond that the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has ever graded, the CTF Pink Star also received the highest color and clarity grades from the GIA for pink diamonds. Mined by De Beers in Africa in 1999, the 132.5-carat rough diamond was meticulously cut and polished over a period of two years and transformed into a stunning gemstone, thanks to Diacore.

Fancy Pink Diamond
Williamson Pink Star Diamond

Williamson Pink Star

The second most expensive Fancy Vivid Pink Diamond sold by Sotheby's is the Williamson Pink Star. The cushion-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 11.15 carats, flanked by trapeze-cut diamonds, embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds of pink tint, mounted in 18 karat pink and white gold sold for $58.9 million in October 2022 in Hong Kong. The GIA report states that the diamond is Fancy Vivid Pink, Natural Colour, Internally Flawless; further accompanied by a diamond type classification report stating that the diamond is determined to be a Type IIa diamond. Type IIa diamonds are the most chemically pure type of diamond and often have exceptional optical transparency. The Williamson Pink Star diamond, is among the rarest of all gemstones...It is extremely rare to encounter large pink diamonds with an unmodified color in any shape, particularly with saturation. In addition to its exceptional color, the clarity is Internally Flawless - a special combination. Examples such as this are some of the rarest gems ever discovered.'

Graff Pink

The Graff Pink

The Graff Pink, a superb 24.76 carat Fancy Intense Pink diamond sold at Sotheby’s in November 2010 for US$46.16 million. The Fancy Intense Pink stones was once owned by American celebrity jeweler Harry Winston. The GIA report stated the diamond may be Potentionally Flawless after repolishing and is a Type IIa pink diamond. The diamond was purchased by Laurence Graff and renamed the Graff Pink after it was polished and cut. The Graff Pink is now 23.88 carats, a Natural Fancy Vivid Pink Internally Flawless Type IIa diamond

Eternal Pink Diamond

Eternal Pink

The Eternal Pink sold for $34.8 million in June 2023. The cushion mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond weighing 10.57 carats set as a ring, flanked by trapezoid-shaped diamonds. The GIA report states that the center diamond is Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink, Natural color, Internally Flawless clarity. Together with a letter from the GIA stating that the diamond has been determined to be Type IIa, a special letter from the GIA attesting to the rarity and intense degree of saturation of the diamond and a GIA monograph detailing the mining, cutting and grading of the diamond and describing it as "a stunning specimen; one of nature's great wonders transformed through artistry and ingenuity." The diamond was discovered in 2020 at the Damtshaa mine in Botswana. The rough weighed 23.78 carats and was carefully cut in Diacore’s New York City facility over a period of six months. The resulting shape, an elegant mixed cushion-cut, optimizes the stone’s astonishing color and gives it a remarkable brilliance.

Spirit of the Rose

Spirit of the Rose

Sotheby's sold the exceptionally rare "The Spirit of the Rose" for about $27 million in November 2020. The a 14.83 carat Fancy Vivid Purple-Pink, Internally Flawless, Type IIa diamond, an unparalleled gem for its quality and size in November 2020. This purple - pink diamond, unhearted in Russia by ALROSA only a couple of months after the Pink Star made its grand entrance into the book of records. The rough diamond, from which the 'Spirit of the Rose' was cut, was named 'Nijinsky' upon its discovery in July 2017 in Yakutia, in the northeast of Russia. A legendary name befitting for a wonder of nature, a stunning 27.85 carat pink rough diamond. The name of the faceted diamond itself, 'The Spirit of the Rose', is the title of the most famous ballet performed by the Ballets Russes and for which Nijinsky is universally known and recognised. It was written by Jean-Louis Vaudoyer who based the story on a verse by the 19th century French poet Theophile Gautier. Le Spectre de la Rose (the French title for The Spirit of the Rose) was one of the most loved productions of the Ballets Russes and Europe and America discovered Russian folklore through the representations of the Ballets. They drove the imagination and inspiration of fashion and jewellery designers. Coco Chanel was one of the costume designers of the Ballets Russes. The Ballets Russes illustrated the links between the arts, history, jewellery, beauty and fashion. The Spirit of the Rose is the ideal name for a stone which reflects beauty and mystery; a diamond for which the magnificence and the grandeur of Russia were fully unveiled by the cutter who brought out its inner and magical beauty. Mined, cut and polished in Russia, 'The Spirit of the Rose' will now be presented to the world and enter jewellery history. The discovery of the rough in 2017 was already an historic event and the auction of such a marvel of nature is without a doubt another thrilling moment.

Pink Diamond In Bloom Ring from Maggi Simpkins

How to Buy or Selling Pink Diamonds

Sotheby's sells fancy pink diamonds at auction, private sale and Buy Now marketplace. The assortment changes with each sale and prices range from several million dollars to tens of thousands. While these incredible Vivid Fancy Pink Diamonds are no longer available for sale, Sotheby's is always sourcing fancy pink diamond jewelry. Contact a Sotheby's Jewelry Specialist if you would like to buy or sell a fancy pink diamond.

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