Diamond sells for $97,000

August 2, 2004 - 10:17AM

The largest diamond ever auctioned in Australia was sold for a similarly large price in Perth.

The round, brilliant cut solitaire diamond, which is the same size and shape as a 10c piece, attracted fierce bidding before it was eventually sold to an anonymous buyer for $97,000.

The huge rock, which weighs in at 9.79 carats and is of extremely high clarity, was flown into Western Australia on Friday under tight security.

First State Auctions, who sold off the stone, said the gem was part of the Sydney estate of a South African diamond miner.

The auction house said the diamond had been assessed as VVS, a measurement of clarity ranked just below flawless, which it said was remarkable considering the size of the gem.

First State Auctions manager Jacobie Gray said there was a real sense of anticipation leading up to the sale, which took place at the Parmelia Hilton hotel.

"The buzz in the room was simply incredible, we have never had so much interest in a piece before, I was almost disappointed to have to sell it," she said.

The auctioneers were reluctant to guess what price the diamond might reach, only saying that a similar quality of stone weighing in at five carats, sold in Perth for $60,000 earlier this year.

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The diamond's quality was independently assessed and certified by Australia's most reputable gemmologist, Bill Sechos.

A diamond of similar size makes up the centrepiece of the antique, 1920s engagement ring that American film actor Michael Douglas presented to Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones.

The value of that ring was estimated to be STG2 million ($A5.22 million) in 2000.