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Enigma: Largest-ever cut diamond on display in Dubai ahead of auction

The rare black diamond, believed to have been created over 2.6 billion years ago when either a meteorite or an asteroid hit the earth, is predicted to sell for $5m
The diamond will go on sale in a seven-day auction that will begin on 3 February (AFP/ Giuseppe Cacace)

An auction house in Dubai has unveiled the largest-ever cut diamond, named “the Enigma”, ahead of its sale where it is expected to go for $5m.

The rare black carbonado diamond which was acquired in the 1990s by its current owner was cut into a shape that “is based on the Middle-Eastern palm symbol of the Khamsa, which stands for strength and it stands for protection," according to the auction house’s jewellery specialist Sophie Stevens.

Khamsa is also the Arabic word for the number five.

Despite being one of the most difficult substances to cut, experts were able to turn the diamond, which weighs 555.55 carats, into a 55-face jewel.

"So there's a nice theme of the number five running throughout the diamond," says Stevens. 

Because of its carbon isotopes and high hydrogen count, experts believe that the diamond was created over 2.6 billion years ago when either a meteorite or an asteroid hit the earth. 

After its stint in Dubai, the cosmic jewel will continue its tour and be displayed in Los Angeles and London, ahead of a seven-day auction that will begin on 3 February. 

“We are honoured that Dubai has been chosen as the first stop for this exceptional rarity and are thrilled to play a part in its journey, which began so many millions of years ago,” Katia Nounou Boueiz, head of Sotheby's UAE, said in a statement.

The auction house says it is willing to accept cryptocurrency in the purchase of the diamond, which, according to Bouiez, is “a move that is in line with the government's own commitment to exploring new digital, technological and scientific advances".

Last year, a 101.38-carat pear-shaped diamond, named "the Key", was purchased from Sotheby's for $12.3m and was paid for using cryptocurrency, making it the most expensive piece of jewellery ever sold via cryptocurrency.