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Shine bright: Russia’s largest-ever cut diamond goes for $14.1 million at Swiss auction house after almost two years of polishing

A flawless rectangular step-cut 100.94-carat diamond, mined in Russia and thought to be the country’s biggest-ever polished gem, has sold for 12.8 million Swiss francs ($14.1 million) at Christie’s auction house in Geneva.

Named ‘The Spectacle’, the gem was cut from a 207.29-carat diamond mined in 2016 by company Alrosa, in Russia’s Far East. It was prepared and polished in Moscow, in a process that lasted for a year and eight months, before the company decided to sell it in Switzerland on Wednesday.

The jewel was promoted by Christie’s as a “magnificent unmounted diamond” with “flawless clarity” and was given an estimate of up to 18 million Swiss francs ($19.8 million).

Last year, the same company sold Russia’s most expensive ever diamond, a 14.83-carat pink gem, also in Geneva. Named ‘Spirit of the Rose’, it was sold for $26.6 million to an anonymous buyer.

Alrosa is one of the world’s largest mining companies and accounts for around a quarter of global diamond extraction. In 2019, it produced 35.5 million carats of rough diamonds. Headquartered in Mirny, in the Sakha Republic, it conducts mining operations both domestically and abroad. The chairman of its supervisory board, Anton Siluanov, also serves as the country’s Minister of Finance. While some of the company is floated publicly, the majority of shares are owned by government entities, such as the Federal Agency for State Property Management.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that Alrosa had risen to become the world leader in diamond mining during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Amid the pandemic, the jewelry industry and its base – the diamond mining [industry] – found themselves in a very difficult situation,” Putin said in a meeting with Alrosa CEO Sergey Ivanov. “Many of your competitors have practically stopped production, are laying off their employees, and in large numbers, on the brink of bankruptcy themselves.”

At the same time, Alrosa continued production, taking the international crown.

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