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Blue moon

A tycoon bought this €45 million rare diamond for his 7-year-old daughter

The sale is a record price for any jewel at auction.

AN EXCEPTIONALLY LARGE  blue diamond sold yesterday for 48.6 million Swiss francs (€45.12 million) — a record price for any jewel at auction, Sotheby’s said, culminating two Geneva auctions in which a convicted Hong Kong tycoon bought rare coloured diamonds for his daughter.

The 12.03-carat ‘Blue Moon’ diamond, set in a ring, was said to be among the largest known fancy vivid blue diamonds and was the showpiece gem at the Sotheby’s jewelry auction.

A packed room broke into applause after the hammer came down at a price of 43.2 million Swiss francs (€40 million) excluding fees.

The Blue Moon — so-called in reference to its rarity, playing off the expression “once in a blue moon” — topped the previous record of €43 million set five years ago by the Graff Pink, Sotheby’s said. The diamond also set a new record of more than $4 million (€3.72 million) per carat, capping the daylong high-end jewelry sale that reaped roughly $140 million (€130 million).

Britain Blue Moon Diamond The Blue Moon diamond. Associated Press Associated Press

On its Twitter account, Sotheby’s said the jewel was purchased by a Hong Kong private collector. The auction house didn’t identify the buyer but in both cases it was Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau, his office said today.

“Yes, the two diamonds are bought by Joseph Lau,” said a spokeswoman, who hung up without identifying herself.

At a Sotheby’s Geneva auction in 2009, Lau bought another blue diamond, paying a then-record $9.5 million (€8.84 million) for the 7.03 carat “Star of Josephine”. The gem was reportedly named after his 7-year-old daughter, the youngest of his five children.

Lau is a property developer with a fortune estimated by Forbes at $9.8 billion. Last year he was convicted in a Macau court on corruption charges and sentenced to more than five years in prison. But Lau, who didn’t attend the trial, has remained free by avoiding travel to the former Portuguese colony, which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with nearby Hong Kong. Both cities are specially administered Chinese regions.

The diamond

The polished blue gem was cut from a 29.6-carat diamond discovered last year in South Africa’s Cullinan mine, which also yielded the 530-carat Star of Africa blue diamond that is part of the British crown jewels, and the Smithsonian Institution’s “Blue Heart” discovered in 1908.

Sotheby’s says experts took five months for an “intense study” of the original Blue Moon diamond, and a master cutter took another three months to craft, cut and polish the stone.

The auction house said in a video that the Cullinan mine was the “only reliable source in the world for blue diamonds,” and only a tiny percentage of those found in it contain even a trace of blue.

Blue diamonds are formed when boron is mixed with carbon when the gem is created.

Read: 85-year-old jewel thief arrested – 10 years after swearing she’d retired

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Associated Foreign Press
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