November 14, 2007 / 10:43 PM / 11 years ago

Diamond goes for $16.21 mln to Guess Jeans founder

GENEVA (Reuters) - A huge flawless white diamond was sold on Wednesday for nearly 18.2 million Swiss francs ($16.21 million) to Guess Jeans founder Georges Marciano, who named it the “Chloe Diamond” after his daughter, Sotheby’s said.

The brilliant-cut diamond, which weighs 84.37 carats, is the second most expensive stone ever sold at auction, eclipsed by the 100.10 carat “Star of the Season” diamond, which went for $16.5 million in May 1995, it said.

“It is just a whisker under the world record,” David Bennett, chairman of jewellery at Sotheby’s Europe and Middle East division, told reporters after conducting the sale.

Bennett, a British expert in the jewellery business for 32 years, said: “This stone had the ability to take my breath away. It really is the paradigm of a diamond — the essence of bling.”

The unmounted diamond is of the highest grade white colour D and purity, according to Sotheby’s which had estimated that the evening’s star lot would fetch 15 to 20 million Swiss francs.

The brilliant-cut is notoriously difficult to obtain from rough crystal. It brought the highest price per carat for a white diamond at auction, $191,980, according to Sotheby’s.

Lisa Hubbard, chairwoman of jewellery at Sotheby’s North and South America who took the winning bid by telephone in Geneva, said: “It was purchased by Georges Marciano, founder of Guess Jeans who lives in Beverly Hills (California).

“He has named it after his daughter Chloe, who is only 12 and has time to grow into it,” she added.

CLEAN DIAMOND

Sotheby’s identified the seller as Ron Cohen, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based company Clean Diamonds.

“The stone was from Angola. It has gone through the Kimberley Process and has all the certificates, it is a clean diamond,” Cohen told Reuters by telephone.

The Kimberley Process is an organisation set up by the diamond industry expressly to police trade in gems and prevent so-called “blood diamonds” used to finance rebel groups and civil wars from coming on the market.

Cohen, an Israeli dealer, said he had bought it from Angola’s state-run diamond company Endiama some two years ago. “I congratulate Georges Marciano for his purchase and wish him all the best with the stone,” he added.

In all, 80 percent of the 385 gems on offer found new owners at the semi-annual sale, for a total of 64 million Swiss francs, according to Sotheby’s. It was its second highest result for a Geneva jewellery sale since 1995.

“It shows the international jewellery market is very buoyant, particularly for diamonds. It is a very positive statement for the industry,” Bennett said.

It came a week after Sotheby’s shares lost more than a third of their value after sales figures from its Impressionist and Modern Art auction in New York painted a lacklustre picture that triggered fears of a slowdown in the art market.

Hubbard, who is based in New York, said that “anything with style or signature” is hot on the gem market.

A fancy vivid blue pear-shaped diamond weighing 4.16 carats, framed by pink diamonds and mounted in a gold ring, went for 5.3 million Swiss francs to Graff Diamonds, beating the top end of its estimate.

An emerald and diamond bracelet given to American-born Wallis Simpson by the Duke of Windsor for Christmas 1935 and engraved with the date and their initials, sold for more than 1.1 Swiss million francs ($ 980,000), exceeding expectations.

The French bracelet was first sold in the legendary auction of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels, held at Sotheby’s in Geneva in April 1987, where it netted $352,000, the company said.

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