Annenberg 32-carat diamond sells for $7.7m

Associated Press / October 22, 2009

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NEW YORK - A square, 32.01-carat emerald-cut diamond that billionaire philanthropist Leonore Annenberg bought for her 90th birthday sold for $7.7 million at auction yesterday.

About the size of a walnut, the flawless, colorless diamond (inset) sits on a ring designed by Manhattan jeweler David Webb.

It is flanked by two pear-shaped diamonds, one of them 1.61 carats and the other 1.51 carats.

The ring was offered for sale by Annenberg’s estate. Christie’s auction house did not identify the buyer, who bid by phone.

Annenberg died in March at 91.

She was US chief of protocol during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, a position that carried the rank of ambassador. Her husband, Walter Annenberg, a billionaire publisher and ambassador to Britain under President Richard Nixon, died in 2002.

The big diamond “combines the best of the four C’s: top color, perfect clarity, ideal cut, and excellent weight,’’ said Francois Curiel, international head of Christie’s jewels.

With the “impeccable provenance of the Annenberg name, you have one of the finest gems to appear on the market for many years,’’ he said.

The ring’s presale estimate was $3 million to $5 million.

The previous auction record for a 30-carat square-cut flawless, colorless diamond was $3.1 million.