The diamond – a cushion-cut sparkler that originated from the ancient Golconda mines in south central India – was purchased by an anonymous collector bidding by phone.
The sale price represents a new record for any jewel sold at Christie’s, surpassing the previous house record of $24.3 million set in December 2008 with the sale of the Wittelsbach Diamond.
Among important large diamonds, the Princie possesses all of the most desirable qualities that today’s collectors seek in diamonds: large size; desirable shape and polish; exceptional colour and quality; Golconda origins; and a noble history. It was first recorded in the holdings of the royal family of Hyderabad, rulers of one of the wealthiest provinces of the Mughal Empire.
First offered at auction in 1960 as ‘Property of a Gentleman’ (later revealed to be the Nizam of Hyderabad himself), the diamond was purchased by the London branch of Van Cleef & Arpels for £46,000, which corresponds to £852,346 today, highlighting the tremendous investment opportunities in the world of diamonds. The diamond’s unique name was bestowed at a party at the firm’s Paris store, where it was christened the ‘Princie’ in honour of the 14-year-old Prince of Baroda, who attended the party with his mother Maharani Sita Devi.
Rahul Kadakia, head of jewelry, Christie’s Americas and Switzerland, commented: “A major event took place in the global auction industry with the record-breaking sale of the Princie Diamond. Aside from the Christie’s sale of the legendary collection of Elizabeth Taylor, this was the most successful jewellery auction ever held in the United States, and Christie’s was proud to have orchestrated the sale of such an historic gemstone.”