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[ZURICH] A 14.93-carat pink diamond ring sold for about US$32 million at Christie's in Hong Kong, at the low end of estimates in a volatile market for gems, while a vintage Patek Philippe set a record auction price for a wristwatch in Asia.
The oval stone, set in a ring embellished with smaller diamonds, sold after a three-minute contest. It was estimated to sell for as much as US$42 million.
The sale follows a choppy auction season in Geneva, where Sotheby's failed to sell the Raj Pink, a 37-carat stone that was estimated to be worth as much as US$30 million.
The Christie's auction came just after a vintage Patek Philippe sold for about US$2.9 million at Phillips in Hong Kong. That's the highest price a wristwatch ever fetched in an auction in Asia.
Pink diamonds are considered among the rarest and most valuable gemstones in the world. Sotheby's set the record for any gem ever sold at an auction earlier this year, with its US$71 million sale of the 59.6-carat Pink Star to Hong Kong-based jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd.
The 18-carat yellow gold Patek Philippe exceeded the high estimate of US$2.6 million.
The wristwatch, consigned by an Asian collector, dates back to 1953 and features an engine-turned dial - a centuries-old craft that uses machines to engrave delicate patterns on watch components. It's also known by the French term, guilloche.
Vintage-watch demand has been booming, illustrated by Phillips's record US$17.8 million sale last month of a Rolex that belonged to Paul Newman. The smaller New York- and London-based firm is aiming to corner the market in vintage timepieces and began holding Hong Kong auctions two years ago.
"We've noticed more and more Asian collectors are looking for vintage timepieces," Thomas Perazzi, Phillips' head of watches in Asia, said in an interview prior to the sale.
"Before, they were looking more for important contemporary wristwatches. This growth is very important."