The Archduke Joseph diamond surpassed its pre-sale estimate of £9 million and tripled its previous sale price of £4 million in 1993, selling to an anonymous bidder via the Christie’s auction house in Geneva for £13 million.
The diamond has been described as being internally flawless, and was sourced at the ancient Golconda mines, from which the famous Koh-i-Noor and Blue Hope Diamond also originated.
Named after Archduke Joseph August of Austria, a prince of the Hungarian line of the Habsburgs, who reportedly deposited it in a bank vault in 1933, the diamond evaded capture during World War Two, when a European banker had locked it away in France, before it surfaced decades later in 1961 at an auction, and then again in 1993.
The record sum was achieved despite surrounding conditions, as Francois Curiel, director of the international jewellery department at Christie’s, explained: “The market is not on the best form at the moment. The sale tonight was almost flabbergasting.”