April 16, 2008 / 5:42 PM / 11 years ago

No buyer for 72 carat diamond

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Global auction house Sotheby’s failed to hammer off a 72.22-carat, “D” flawless white diamond at its Asian sales last week in a possible sign of weakness in the global diamond trade.

A Pear-shaped D-colour flawless 72.22 carat diamond is shown during a press preview at Sotheby's Auction House in Hong Kong March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Victor Fraile

The large diamond which had a pre-sale estimate of $10-12 million, attracted a final bid of HK$73 million ($9.24million) that fell short of the reserve price and went unsold, said Sotheby’s press officer Rhonda Yung.

The diamond was later sold to a private buyer for an undisclosed sum, Sotheby’s said. Yung added that several international buyers had bid for the stone but “confusion over exchange rates” had caused the auctioneer to retract some bids and may have dampened buyer enthusiasm.

The Sotheby’s stone was the third largest “pear-shaped” diamond ever auctioned globally, and was of exceptional quality given its size, symmetry and esteemed “Type IIA” rating, given only to the most brilliant of white “D” color diamonds.

Rare polished diamonds achieved all-time highs per carat at sales in Geneva late last year, fuelled by high commodity prices and strong demand in emerging economies like China and the Gulf States.

The poor Hong Kong result however suggests the market for top tier gems may be suffering from global economic weakness.

The stone was auctioned in Hong Kong on the back of a growing trend for top gemstones to grace Asian auction rooms from traditional gem hubs such as Geneva.

The next big test could be a massive 101-carat, “near-flawless,” squash-ball sized diamond which will be sold by rival auction Christie’s next month in Hong Kong, in what’s being dubbed the largest diamond ever auctioned in Asia and could fetch $6 million.

Last October, Sotheby’s sold a small and very rare blue diamond in Hong Kong for $8 million, or $1.3 million per carat making it the most expensive gemstone in the world, per carat.

Another magnificent 84-carat diamond was sold by Sotheby’s last November for $16.2 million to Guess Jeans founder Georges Marciano, who named it the “Chloe Diamond” after his daughter.

It just missed out on becoming the most expensive diamond auctioned, a record held for more than a decade by the 100-carat “Star of the Season” that fetched $16.5 million in 1995.

Reporting by James Pomfret. Editing by Peter Blackburn

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