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Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 13:34 UK

Massive diamond under the hammer

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The huge gem was mined in South Africa's biggest diamond mine

A 101.27 carat diamond, the size of a ping pong ball, has been sold at auction in Hong Kong for more than $6m (3m).

The stone is the largest colourless diamond to appear at auction in 18 years, says auction house Christie's.

Set in a tiara, the diamond is one of only four colourless diamonds of over 100 carats to have come up for sale.

The auction was the biggest jewellery sale ever conducted by Christie's in terms of value.

More than $60.1m worth of jewellery was sold at the event in Hong Kong. The diamond was the largest ever sold in Asia.

Christie's said the diamond's appearance on the market had "created a sensation".

It was put up for sale by an anonymous private individual and bought by a first-time auction buyer from Hong Kong who bid over the telephone.

The new owner will have the right to name the diamond.

Francois Curiel, Christie's international director for jewellery and the auctioneer at the sale, said the crowd at the event was "flabbergasted" by the high prices on display.

"The world record price for the colourless diamond sale was broken...the atmosphere in the room was very excited," he told the BBC.

"People were looking right, looking left, we were breaking world records all the time. They couldn't believe their eyes."

The internally flawless stone was cut from a 460 carat rough diamond, and has 92 facets.

The stone was discovered in South Africa's biggest diamond mine, Premier Mine, which is where the world's largest rough diamond, the Cullinan Diamond, was also found.




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