RELEASE: The Archduke Joseph Diamond fetched US$21.5 M / SFr.20.4 M, A WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR A COLOURLESS DIAMOND - Geneva, 13 November 2012

On November 13, Christie's Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels realised a total of SFr.80,615,930 / US$85,049,806 / €66,991,837, selling 84% by lot and 86% by value


On November 13, Christie's Geneva auction of Magnificent Jewels realised a total of SFr.80,615,930 / US$85,049,806 / €66,991,837, selling 84% by lot and 86% by value. This extraordinary result, combined with the total achieved for the category in May, concludes the most successful year for Christie’s Jewellery department in Switzerland, with annual sales exceeding SFr.183.9 million (US$195.2 million).

The top lot of the sale was the historical 76.02 carats cushion-shaped ‘Archduke Joseph Diamond’ which sold for US$21,474,525 / SFr.20,355,000 (US$282,545 per carat), setting a new world record at auction for a colourless diamond. Over the seven hour long sale a total of 19 lots sold above $1 million with 147 buyers coming from 28 countries, competing enthusiastically in the room, on the telephone and online.

François Curiel, President of Christie's Switzerland and International Director of Christie’s Jewellery Department: “In the busiest saleroom witnessed at the Four Seasons hotel des Bergues in Geneva in recent years, the Archduke Joseph Diamond of 76.02 carats sold for $21.5, a world record price per carat for a colourless diamond. The historical gem led Christie's jewellery auction which totalled $85 million dollars”.

Alfredo J. Molina, the diamond’s former owner and CEO of America’s Black, Starr & Frost jewelers: “I am thrilled but not surprised that the Archduke Joseph Diamond should have fetched such a high price. It is considered the finest and largest perfect Golconda diamond ever to appear at auction, with a noble lineage and royal provenance which literally ‘Fit for a Queen.’ I was blessed to be the Archduke’s guardian and champion for the past 13 years, and indeed it has become part of my very identity. I am honored to have worked with Rahul Kadakia and Christie’s on this historic sale. I wish the Archduke Joseph Diamond Godspeed…and I know its new owners will delight in its beauty, charisma and mystery as I have for so many happy years.”



During the past years some of the world’s finest diamonds have experienced a surge in demand at auction. Christie’s holds the world auction records for the most valuable Golconda diamonds, including for blue, pink and colourless diamonds. Interestingly enough, the latter was set by the Archduke Joseph diamond when it sold at Christie’s Geneva in 1993.

- In 2008, Christie’s London sold The Wittelsbach Diamond, an historic 17th Century cushion-shaped deep grayish blue, VS2 diamond for £16.4 million (US$24.3 million).

- In May 2011, Christie’s Hong Kong sold a spectacular pair of cushion-shaped Golconda diamond ear pendants for HK$72.3 million (US$9.3 million).

- In December 2011, Christie’s New York sold the spectacular D-color, 33.19 carat Elizabeth Taylor Diamond ring that the star wore virtually every day since receiving it as a gift from Richard Burton in 1968. This extraordinary jewel fetched US$8.8 million, setting a new record price-per-carat of $240,000.


Since 1766, Christie’s has been synonymous with auctions of Royal and Aristocratic collections. From the sale of Madame du Barry’s jewels in 1795, to that of the Russian Crown Jewels in 1927, and more recently the Private Collection of H.R.H. The Princess Margaret in 2006, these events have created worldwide interest and are remembered as legendary moments in auction history. In April 2008, the Louvre Museum was able to acquire the Empress Eugénie Diamond Brooch through Christie’s, thereby allowing its return to the French Crown Jewels.

Royal Jewellery Collections auctioned at Christie's Geneva include:

- 1967 Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

- 1969 Queen Marie-Jose of Italy

- 1979 Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

- 1980 Egyptian Royal family

- 1980 Queen Maria-Cristina of Spain

- 1984 Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain

- 1988 The Aga Khan III

- 1990 Princess Irene of Greece & Denmark

- 1995 Princess Salimah Aga Khan

- 1999 Princess Marie José of Belgium, later Queen of Italy

- 1999 Queen Marie-Antoinette of France

- 2005 Archduchess Marie-Valerie of Austria

- 2006 Princess Olga of Yugoslavia

- 2006 Property of a Royal House

- 2007 Princess Katharina Henckel von Donnersmarck

- 2007 H.S.H. Amelia von Furstenberg


The House of Habsburg was, without a doubt, one of the most powerful dynasties of Europe, ruling over the monarchies of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary for more than five centuries. Among the glorious ancestors of Archduke Joseph of Austria are some of the great diamond owners of their time. The legendary Florentine Diamond, an Indian yellow diamond weighing 137.27 carats, now lost, was once the property of Empress Maria-Theresa (1717-1780), wife of Emperor Francis (1708-1765). Another illustrious example is the Emperor Maximilian Diamond, a 41.94 carat cushion-shaped diamond purchased by Emperor Maximilian I (1832-1867) in the 19th Century and sold in 1982 and again in 2010 at Christie’s New York.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). Christie's is also recognised as a reference for prestigious single owner collections, having auctioned 8 of the 10 most important collections in history.

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including use of hologram technology to tour life-size 3D objects around the world, and the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

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