The fancy intense yellow diamond pictured above has an unbreakable bond with one of the oldest international aid organizations, The Red Cross.
The 205.07 ct. Red Cross Diamond was unearthed in 1901 in a De Beers South African mine and, uniquely, boasts a pavilion that’s faceted in the shape of a Maltese cross.
The gemstone was first offered for sale in 1918 at Christie’s London by the Diamond Syndicate in aid of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John, in the Red Cross Auction (that entire sale raised £50,000 (roughly $4 million today). The Red Cross Diamond fetched £10,000 (approximately $780,828 today) when it was bought by well-known London firm S.J. Phillips.
The gem went up for sale a second time at Christie’s, 55 years later, in November 1973 in Geneva, earning roughly $1.9 million from a private buyer (no philanthropy was involved). And now Christie’s is offering the diamond at auction for a third time in its 104 years, at a May 11 sale in Geneva—and plans to donate an unnamed percentage of its sale to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Christie’s and the British Red Cross have partnered on several occasions over more than a century. The most famous instance of this took place in 1918 when the European aristocracy donated 3,597 single pearls to benefit the Red Cross immediately after WWI—which firms such as Garrard and Tiffany crafted into necklaces, scarf pins and rings. The jewels became known as the Red Cross Pearls and were auctioned by Christie’s to aid the humanitarian organization.
Much more recently, Christie’s donated to the Red Cross during the tragic wildfires in California, and in 2020, the auctioneer donated 500 of its Christie’s Education online courses to support the International Fund-Raising Committee of the British Red Cross.
“This is a tremendous honor for a cause that is even more poignant in the midst of current events,” said François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe and head of the luxury department in a statement.
Before the Red Cross Diamond finds its new owner, it will be on public view at Christie’s New York, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, April 29-May 1; and at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva May 6-11. —Emili Vesilind
Top: The fancy intense yellow Red Cross Diamond (courtesy of Christie’s)