“The Rock”, the biggest white diamond ever to be sold at auction, will go under the hammer in Geneva on Wednesday and could fetch up to $30 million — or more.
The 228.31-carat stone, larger than a golf ball, is “a truly exceptional pear-shaped diamond”, said Max Fawcett, head of the jewels department at Christie’s auction house in Geneva.
It is “the largest white diamond ever to be offered at auction”, he told AFP at a preview.
The Magnificent Jewels auction at the luxury Hotel des Bergues in Geneva begins at 1400 GMT.
The Rock, currently in the hands of an unnamed owner from North America, is lot 26 in the sale and could break records at the sale.
“It’s perfectly symmetrical and is estimated at $20 to $30 million — and I expect there to be fireworks” at the auction, Fawcett said.
The equivalent in euros is 19 to 28 million.
The expert said that there were only a handful of diamonds of similar size and quality to The Rock. The Christie’s record for a similar white diamond is $33.7 million, fetched in Geneva in 2017 for a 163.41-carat gem.
The large diamond was extracted from a mine in South Africa in the early 2000s and has been shown in Dubai, Taipei and New York ahead of the sale in Geneva.
– Red Cross gem –
The Rock is up for grabs alongside a historic intense yellow diamond associated for more than a century with the Red Cross, which will receive some of the profits from its sale.
The Red Cross Diamond is a cushion-shaped, 205.07-carat canary yellow jewel, which has a price estimate of seven to 10 million Swiss francs ($7.09 to $10.13 million).
“I expect that it will achieve much more on the day of sale,” said Fawcett.
A large chunk of the proceeds will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is headquartered in Geneva.
The original rough stone was found in 1901 in a De Beers company mine in South Africa and is said to have weighed around 375 carats.
As well as ranking among the largest diamonds in the world, a striking feature is its pavilion, which naturally bears the shape of a Maltese cross.
The stone was first put up for sale on April 10, 1918 at Christie’s in London. It was offered by the Diamond Syndicate in aid of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John.
The Red Cross Diamond fetched £10,000 — approximately £600,000 ($740,000) in today’s money. It was bought by the London jewellers S.J. Phillips.
It was sold again by Christie’s in Geneva in 1973, fetching 1.8 million Swiss francs, and is now being offered by the auction house for a third time.
– Russia restrictions –
Several other diamond rings, necklaces and bracelets could fetch over $1 million at the auction.
Also being sold is a tiara that belonged to princess Irma of Furstenberg (1867-1948), a member of one of the most pre-eminent aristocratic families in the Habsburg Empire.
It is estimated to go for 400,000 to 600,000 Swiss francs.
“The diamond market at the moment is very, very strong,” said Fawcett.
He said rising demand, supply constraints due to “geopolitical issues” and inflationary pressure on commodities, including precious stones, was pushing the market to highs not seen since its 2013-2014 peak.
The Russian invasion in Ukraine has had a major impact.
More than 40 percent of the world’s diamonds are mined in Russia, including the famous Alrosa mine, but international markets no longer have access to Russian gems, said Fawcett.
The supply constraint has created major price hikes and with the sanctions imposed on Moscow following the February 24 invasion, “prices will only continue to increase”, he said.
Textile industry set to unravel under Pakistan’s power crisis
Pakistan’s textile exports are set to dramatically dip as the sector is hobbled by a nationwide energy crisis forcing daily power cuts on factories, with an industry leader warning about “a state of emergency” for the manufacturing hub.
The South Asian nation is in the midst of a dire economic crisis, with runaway inflation, a depleted rupee and dwindling foreign exchange reserves hampering energy imports.
Meanwhile a heatwave has caused a surge in electricity demand, leaving a shortfall of over 7,000 megawatts — one-fifth of Pakistan’s generation capacity — on some days this month, according to government figures.
The energy shortage has hit Pakistan’s vital textile industry, which supplies everything from denim to bed linen towards markets in the US and Europe, and accounts for 60 percent of the country’s exports.
“The textile industry is in a state of emergency,” Qasim Malik, the vice president of the Chamber of Commerce in the manufacturing hub of Sialkot, told AFP.
With authorities forced to ration the power supply with staggered blackouts, Malik said the “unannounced and unscheduled” outages disrupt the textile supply chain, which is “causing millions of rupees of losses”.
“Should the power cuts persist there could be a decline of more than 20 percent in exports,” warned Sheikh Luqman Amin of the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Larger factories tend to have independent power plants, leaving small- and medium-sized factories in cities such as Lahore, Faisalabad and Sialkot most exposed.
Owners have complained of power cuts of eight to 12 hours on a daily basis and face the dilemma of lower production or installing generators powered by petrol, which is also sharply rising in cost.
“We can’t accept new orders because we are already behind on previous ones,” said Sialkot garment factory owner Usman Arshad.
“Things can’t continue to go on this way.”
Despite the nation’s economic woes, textile exports surged 28 percent to a record $17.67 billion in the fiscal year July-May 2021/22, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association reported this week.
The Pakistani industry was buoyed by the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic, when it was freed of restrictions earlier than regional rivals India and Bangladesh.
The new government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to announce a budget on Friday attempting to turn around Pakistan’s dire finances.
It is expected the ledger will include a raft of measures to convince the International Monetary Fund to revive a stalled $6 billion bailout package.
Italy to kill 1,000 pigs in swine fever outbreak
A thousand pigs will be slaughtered after two cases of swine fever were detected on a farm in Rome’s Lazio region, officials said Friday, spurring fears of a blow to the country’s pork industry.
“We have to slaughter all the pigs in the contaminated area very quickly,” Angelo Ferrari, tasked with managing the crisis, told AGI news agency.
The local health agency estimated 1,000 pigs would have to be culled to stem the spread, he said.
“The sooner we act decisively and incisively, the greater our hope that the commercial damage will be reduced,” he said.
Italy, with about 8.9 million pigs, is the seventh biggest pork producer in the European Union, representing an eight-billion-euro ($9.1 billion) industry, according to the agricultural association Confagricoltura.
The two case of African swine fever detected in Lazio are the first among farmed pigs in Italy. Before that, cases were detected in wild boar in January in northern Italy, then in the Lazio region.
African swine fever (ASF) does not affect humans but is contagious and fatal for pigs and their wild relatives and an outbreak is potentially devastating for the pork industry, experts say.
A 2018 outbreak in China — the world’s largest pork producer — caused millions of pigs to be slaughtered to stop the spread.
The disease has existed in Africa for decades. In a December 3 report on the virus, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said ASF had been reported in 32 countries in five world regions since January 2020.
In Italy, it has been endemic on the island of Sardinia since first appearing in 1978.
In western Europe, the virus was reported in Belgium in 2018, prompting China to ban all imports of Belgian pork.
After Germany confirmed its first case in a dead wild boar in 2020, China, Japan and South Korea, alongside Brazil and Argentina, also suspended German pork imports.
Italy’s main agricultural association Coldiretti called on the government last month for the “rapid culling” of boars throughout the country to help stop the spread of the disease.
Images of boar walking through residential areas of Rome and feeding at overflowing rubbish bins regularly do the rounds on social media networks.
UK banks no longer ‘too big to fail’: BoE
Britain’s biggest banks are no longer “too big to fail” in any future financial shocks, with shareholders rather than taxpayers ready to bear the cost, the Bank of England said Friday.
Following a major review of eight lenders — including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest — the BoE concluded “that if a major UK bank failed today it could do so safely: remaining open and continuing to provide vital banking services to the economy.
“Shareholders and investors, not taxpayers, will be first in line to bear the costs, overcoming the ‘too big to fail’ problem,” the central bank added.
Following the financial global crisis more than a decade ago, the UK taxpayer pumped £137 billion ($171 billion) into the country’s banks, while also being able to benefit from significant BoE support.
The government also took control of Royal Bank of Scotland — rebranded as NatWest ahead of its recent return to the private sector.
Despite the bailouts, “the disruption to the financial system contributed to the UK and global recession that followed. We cannot forget these lessons”, the BoE added Friday.
The central bank was publishing its first assessment of the eight major UK banks’ preparations for resolution under the Resolvability Assessment Framework.
RAF “is a core part of the UK’s response to the global financial crisis, and demonstrates how the UK has overcome the problem of ‘too big to fail'”, said Dave Ramsden, deputy governor for markets and banking at the BoE.
“The UK authorities have developed a resolution regime that successfully reduces risks to depositors and the financial system and better protects the UK’s public funds.”
The other four banks assessed were Nationwide, Santander UK, Standard Chartered and Virgin Money UK.
Business1 week ago
Shanghai eases Covid curbs in step towards ending lockdown
Energy3 weeks ago
Industrial Edge: The Energy Opportunity
Business2 weeks ago
Twitter shareholder lawsuit accuses Musk of ‘market manipulation’
Business2 weeks ago
Oil, gas firms use Ukraine war to resist climate efforts: report
Business4 days ago
US suspends solar tariffs, boosts production in clean energy push