A white diamond the size of a small egg sold for $30.6 million at a Hong Kong auction today, as two phone bidders competed for the 118-carat white diamond from Africa in six minutes of measured bidding in the Sotheby's jewelry auction. The "flawless" white oval diamond, mined and cut two years ago, was hammered down for $27.3 million, just under the low end of the $28 million to $35 million estimate range set by Sotheby's. Total price including commission came to $30.6 million. That was more than the previous record of $26.7 million for a white diamond set in May at Christie's in Geneva.
The stone, which weighed 299 carats when it was found in the rough in 2011, is the largest and most significant such diamond graded by the Gemological Institute of America. Sotheby's says it was discovered in southern Africa but won't name the country because the seller wishes to remain anonymous. The auction's other highlight, a 7.6-carat flawless, round, vivid blue diamond which had an estimate of $19 million, failed to reach its reserve price. The world record price for a jewel at auction was set in 2010, when London jeweler Laurence Graff paid $46 million for a "fancy intense pink" diamond weighing 24.8 carats. That record could be blown away in November, when Sotheby's puts a pink 59.60-carat diamond on the block that's expected to fetch more than $60 million in Geneva. (Read more diamonds stories.)