55.22-carat Estrela de Fura ruby sells for a record US$34.8m to Middle Eastern collector

Billed by Sotheby's as the world's largest gem-quality ruby, the 55.22-carat Estrela de Fura fetched US$34.8 million in New York last week – a new record not just for a ruby, but also for any coloured gemstone ever sold at auction. It was sold to a private collector from the Middle East. 

Estrela de Fura was not the only jewel to smash an auction record at the house's Magnificent Jewels Sale. A 10.57-carat Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond, named the Eternal Pink, also raked in another US$34.8 million, setting a new auction record for a purplish pink diamond, and establishing a new price-per-carat record for the color grade at over US$3.29 million.

It was the first time in auction history that two stones have sold for more than US$30 million in a single sale, Sotheby's notes. 

Sotheby's sold two record-breaking gemstones in New York last week

Under ultraviolet light, the "Estrela de Fura" radiates a strong fluorescence

Lot 59 | Estrela de FURA: 55.22 (Auction record for a ruby and any colored gemstone)
Cushion-cut ruby weighing 55.22 carats set as a ring
Estimate on request (expected to fetch in excess of US$30 million)
Sold: US$34,804,500

Unearthed in FURA Gems' ruby mine in Montepeuz, Mozambique in July 2022, the original rough stone of the Estrela de Fura weighed an astonishing 101 carats. 

Even in its untouched state, it had already stunned experts with its fluoresence, remarkable clarity, and vivid red hue – known as "pigeon's blood", the colour which traditionally associated only with top-quality Burmese rubies. 

In the gemstone world, Myanmar (formerly Burma) is long considered the premier source for the finest rubies.Yet, with prized Burmese ruby mines virtually depleted, in recent decades jewelers have turned to Africa in their quest to fill the void – and Mozambique, a country in Southeastern Africa, is emerging as one of the world's most important ruby deposits. 

 Mozambique is an emerging source for ruby

The original rough stone of the Estrela de Fura weighed 101 carats

The previous record for red rubies and coloured gemstone was held by the Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59-carat Burmese "pigeon blood" that sold for US$30.3 million at Sotheby's Geneva in 2015. That ruby was acquired by the late Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten. 

And this record-breaking sale of the Estrela de FURA has now established a new benchmark for Mozambique rubies, elevating them to the long-standing and esteemed status of their Burmese counterparts.

25.59-carat Burmese "pigeon blood" Sunrise Ruby sold for US$30.3 million in 2015

Named Estrela de FURA, of Star of FURA in Portuguese, the ruby pays tributes to Mozambique’s official language, and shines a spotlight on the country as a rich source of premium quality rubies.  

Its oustanding quality, with remarkable depth of colour and size, is recognized by five reputable gemological laboratories, including: American Gemological Laboratories (AGS), Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF, Gübelin, GRS, and Bellerophon – all of which classified it as natural red ruby with no indications of heating. Among them, GRS and Bellerophon even referred its hue as pigeon’s blood red.

Lot 62 | The Eternal Pink (Auction record for a purplish pink diamond and a new record price per carat for the colour grade)
The cusion mixed-cut Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond weighing 10.57 carats set as a ring
Estimate upon request (expected to fetch in excess of US$35 million)
Sold: US$34,804,500

Sharing the spotlight with the Estrela de Fura, the Eternal Pink, a 10.57-carat internally flawless Fancy Vivid Purplish Pink diamond, as well sold for US$34.8 million – an auction record for a purplish pink diamond. Its price per carat reached a whopping US$3.29 million, which also set a record price for the colour grade. 

The previous record was set by The Sakura Diamond, a cushion-cut purple-pink diamond weighing 15.81 carats, which fetched US$29.3 million at Christie's Hong Kong in 2021. 


15.81-Carat Sakura Diamond, graded Fancy Vivid Purple Pink, sold for HK$226 million at Christie's Hong Kong in 2021

Pink is one of the rarest colours to occur naturally in diamonds. Of all the diamonds submitted to the GIA, less than 3% are classified as coloured diamonds, and less than 5% of those are considered predominantly pink. In 2002, GIA conducted a data analysis on over 1,400 pink diamonds, and only 4% of them could reach the grade of Fancy Vivid Pink, most of which are often small in size.

Not only is the Eternal Pink of the highest colour and clarity grades, it is also a Type IIa diamond, which achieved the highest level in terms of chemical impurities, where only less than 2% of all gem diamonds falls into this classification. 

The Eternal Pink reaches the highest gradeds across various categories

Comparing the Eternal Pink with the Sakura Diamond, their only difference lies in the weight – the new record holder is lighter than its previous counterpart by around five carats. 

Such a result is largely due to the rarity of pink dimaond in recent years. The Argyle mine in Australia, which produces the highest volume of pink diamonds worldwide, ceased production in 2020 due to resource depletion. Driven by rising demands and limited supply, prices for top-quality large pink diamonds has surged.

Auction Details:

Auction House: Sotheby's New York
Sale: Magnificent Jewels
Date: 8 June 2023
Sale Total: US$95,869,980