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A fancy vivid, internally flawless, purple-pink diamond displaying the most beautiful and intense shades of pink that the auction world has ever seen surpassed all expectations at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on Tuesday, as it pulled down a record price of $17.8 million.

It earned the highest price ever paid at auction for a vivid pink diamond and outperformed the previous record holder by more than $7 million.

“It was tremendous,” said Quek Chin Yeow, the chairman of Sotheby’s international jewelry business in Asia. “When they started bidding, they were quite enthusiastic, and we had at least six, seven bidders on the pink. And that was quite a big thrill.”

In the months leading up to the sale, Quek Chin Yeow, the chairman of Sotheby’s international jewelry business in Asia, had described the featured gem as “the most desirable pink diamond to appear at auction in recent years.”

When the hammer went down, the selling price of $17.8 million was more than 15% above the high estimate.

The 8.41-carat record-breaker — about the size of a thumbnail — was cut in New York City from a De Beers-mined rough diamond weighing 19.54 carats.

The record for the highest price ever paid for any jewel at auction is held by the 24.67-carat Graff Pink, which sold in 2010 for $46.2 million.

A 14.82-carat fancy vivid orange diamond that was sold by Christie’s last year for $35.5 million, or $2.4 million per carat, holds the record for the highest price per carat achieved by any gem at auction.

Somewhat overshadowed by Sotheby’s pink diamond headliner was a beautiful blue 17.16-carat Kashmir sapphire that also set a per-carat record when it fetched $4.06 million. The step-cut gemstone broke the per-carat mark for blue sapphires set this past April by a 28.18-carat Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring.

Photos: Sotheby’s

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