The Rock
Photo credit: Christie's

The ‘Red Cross’ rocks. ‘The Rock’ does not.

After a heated 11 minutes of bidding, the 205 carat Red Cross Diamond “rocked” Christie’s Geneva last Wednesday by selling for $14 million dollars, a whopping 40% over its high pre-sale estimate.

The famous Fancy Intense Yellow diamond, originally unearthed in 1901,  was fashioned with a pavilion distinctively crafted in the shape of a Maltese cross.

The Red Cross Diamond
Photo credit: Christie’s

Third Time’s a Charm

The diamond was first auctioned by Christie’s in 1918, selling for a record £10,000, which would be equivalent to £600,000 ($770,000) today. Proceeds from that inaugural sale benefitted the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, which used the Maltese cross as a symbol. The Red Cross Diamond next appeared at auction in 1973, some 55 years later, sold by Christie’s Geneva in 1973 for CHF 1.8 million, equivalent to $4.3 million today.

This time a portion of the funds will again go to benefit the humanitarian efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), an organization which invests 93.5% of dollars they spend on people in need.

The Red Cross Diamond
Photo credit: Christie’s

Watch For Falling Rocks

At the same the Red Cross Diamond was setting records, the largest white diamond ever to appear at auction was gaveled near the low end of expectations. The Rock, a 228.31-carat white diamond believed to be the largest white diamond to appear at auction, sold for a highly respectable $21.8 million, but it had been forecast to sell for up to $30 million.

The Rock

A Bargain?

Finishing as a pear shape with G color and very slightly included (VS1) clarity, the buyer of this 228 carat “rock” may have scored a tremendous bargain.  The largest white diamond previously sold by Christie’s weighed 163.41 carats and brought in nearly $34 million. Given its extremely rare size, Christie’s international head of jewelry, Rahul Kadakia predicted last month that “no price” paid would be too high.

Honestly, the stone has no price… Let’s say you have five collectors trying to buy the stone, and the day after the sale and one of those clients that didn’t buy it comes back and says, ‘Look, buyer’s remorse. Can you find me another stone?’ It took us 256 years to find one. Where is the other stone? I don’t know. That’s what’s rare about it.

Rahul Kadakia, Christie's
Rahul Kadakia, Christie’s

About The Red Cross Movement

In 1859 Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman wrote “Un souvenir de Solférino,” a book which advances the concept that a wounded soldier ceases to be an enemy and should be considered as any equal human being in need of help. This created momentum for Dunant and four companions to found the Red Cross Movement in 1863, in Geneva.

Today known as the International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent, the movement comprises the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose main mission has been to protect and assist victims of armed conflict, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) founded in 1919, which mainly coordinate peacetime humanitarian relief efforts around the world, along with some 190 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

ICRC
Photo credit: The Red Cross

Angi Butler

Angi's first career was in diamond, gemstone and fashion jewelry sales. Now a corporate executive, she shares her advice and opinions on these pages.

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