An out-of-this-world — literally — black diamond will go to the highest bidder at Sotheby’s next month.
The record-breaking, 555.55-carat gemstone, dubbed “The Enigma,” was ranked among the largest and toughest diamonds in the world, and it’s thought to have dropped here millions of years ago from outer space, according to the iconic auction house’s expert gemologists.
Black diamonds like this one, also called carbonados, are formed out of a meteoric impact to Earth, forged out of the blast or deriving from the asteroid itself, Sotheby’s shared in a statement.
The 1-billion-year-old diamond is expected to fetch at least $6.8 million when it hits the online block, where it will be up for bidding from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9. Sotheby’s will accept cryptocurrency as payment — as well as cold hard cash.
The House of Gübelin in Switzerland and the Gemological Institute of America both have declared it the largest known of its kind, and it was first listed by Guinness World Records in 2006.
Meanwhile, this 2022 publicity push marks the first time the diamond has ever been shown publicly, Sotheby’s said. Following an unveiling at the Dubai Diamond Exchange this week, the Enigma will travel to Los Angeles from Jan. 24 to Jan. 26 before landing at the London auction house in February.
In keeping with its numeric theme, the 555.55-carat jewel was also cut with 55 facets, a technical feat for one of the toughest diamonds in existence, according to Sotheby’s.
“The shape of the diamond is based on the Middle Eastern palm symbol of the Khamsa, which stands for strength and … protection,” Sophie Stevens, a jewelry specialist at Sotheby’s Dubai, told the Associated Press. Khamsa in Arabic means five, “so there’s a nice theme of the number five running throughout the diamond.”
“ ‘The Enigma’ is a marvel of rarity and size, and its brilliance and high polish are a testament to the delicate and highly skilled undertaking of diamond cutting,” said Nikita Binani, jewelry specialist and head of sale at Sotheby’s London.
The diamond had previously belonged to an anonymous owner, said Binani, though it’s not exactly clear where or how it came into existence.
“Its sale represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the rarest, billion-year-old cosmic wonders known to humankind,” she said.