A plum-sized diamond known as the "Pink Star" was auctioned in Geneva Wednesday for $83 million, a world record for a gemstone.
David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's jewellery division in Europe and the Middle East, brought down the hammer in a Geneva hotel after an intense, five-minute bidding race.
The winning bidder, a bearded man apparently in his sixties sporting a Jewish skullcap, was pitted in a one-on-race against a telephone competitor.
The bidding in Geneva was conducted in Swiss francs, starting at 48 million and working its way upwards million-by-million.
There was a long silence as the price reached 67 million Swiss francs, before the in-room bidder came back with the winning 68 million -- the equivalent of $83 million.
The some 150 people in the auction room erupted into applause, as the theme tune from the "Pink Panther" was played in a tongue-in-cheek gesture.
The winning bidder declined to identify himself to AFP but confirmed that he had been representing another individual, whose name and location he refused to reveal.
The diamond had been estimated at $60 million.
The price did not include Sotheby's commission, which the auctioneers were still to reveal.
Three years ago, Sotheby's set an auction record of $46.2 million -- commission included -- for a diamond when it sold the "Graff Pink" gemstone.