Geneva auction sells huge diamond for $26.7M
FILE - This is Tuesday, May 7, 2013 file photo of a model holds a yellow 74.53 carat diamond from the late 19th century during an auction preview at Sotheby's in Geneva, Switzerland. The auction house sold off the 74.53-carat fancy yellow diamond that once belonged to Ahmad Shah Qajar, the shah of Persia from 1909 to 1925 and the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty. Its sale for nearly $3 million set both an auction record and a record price per carat _ an eye-popping $40,061 per carat _ for a fancy yellow diamond. (AP Photo/Keystone/Jean-Christophe Bott, File)
GENEVA (AP) — A huge diamond unearthed in Botswana commanded an unearthly price of $26.7 million from Christie's auction house Wednesday amid the spring ritual of well-heeled bidders flocking or phoning in to Geneva's luxury sales.
The pear-shaped gem accounted for more than a quarter of the $102 million in sales rung up by Christie's Wednesday night, a night after Sotheby's had $78 million in sales.
"A perfect diamond commands a perfect price," Christie's trumpeted on Twitter of the record sale price for the largest D-color flawless diamond ever offered at auction — a whopping 101.73 carats that took 21 months to polish.
FILE - This is a Tuesday, May 7, 2013 file photo of the Royal Oak Chronograph Leo Messi No. 10 by Audemas Piguet, is pictured with the jersey of the national soccer team of Argentina during an auction preview at Sotheby's in Geneva, Switzerland. Barcelona star Lionel Messi’s Audemars Piguet No. 10 Royal Oak Chronograph wristwatch, was sold for $81,850 to raise money for the four-time FIFA player of the year’s foundation. (AP Photo/Keystone/Jean-Christophe Bott, File)
Jewelry, watches and other luxury items are sold every spring by the big auction houses at Geneva's elegant lakefront hotels — seemingly a world away from some European countries whose economies are shrinking as their governments enact often tough budget austerity measures to get a handle on their debts.
Sotheby's auction featured a diamond jewelry collection belonging to Italian screen actress Gina Lollobrigida that fetched $4.9 million, some of which she plans to donate to stem cell research.
The auction house said eight bidders fought for Lollobrigida's pair of diamond and natural pearl earrings, which finally sold for more than $2.3 million and set a new auction record for such an item.