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Dear diamond

Geneva, Nov. 21 (Reuters): A flawless diamond the size of a walnut has failed to find a buyer ready to pay more than $8 million and win the right to give it a name, despite entrancing experts around the world.

The colourless South African stone — at 103.8 carats just five carats lighter than the legendary Koh-i-Noor which graces a royal British crown — was put up for auction in Switzerland last evening.

It was the star piece in Sotheby’s traditional autumn jewellery sales in Geneva, which attract the world’s super-rich on the telephone and in person.

Bidding in the crowded room started at 7.8 million Swiss francs ($6.0 million), but stopped at 10 million francs — below the reserve price set by the owners, diamond trading firm Steinmetz Group.

The auctioneer then gave potential purchasers a full five minutes to come in with a higher bid, but after a long silence gave up and declared the stone “Non vendu”, or not sold. Sotheby’s estimated it would sell for at least 11 million francs ($8.4 million).

“(This) remains a sensational stone,” David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's Switzerland until last year, later said. “This was clearly just not its moment. It is outside the general market for diamonds.”

Sotheby’s says it does not know exactly when the diamond was found at South Africa’s Premier Mines, suggesting only that it was some years ago, but planning its final shape and cutting it in Johannesburg and New York took about 18 months.

Women only

Flensburg (Germany) (AFP): Keen to underpin its booming business, Germany’s Beate Uhse sex chain said that it is to open erotica shops aimed at women put off by the traditionally male-dominated sex store. They will be designed specifically for the female market, offering gentler products such as aromatherapy oils and “erotic teas” in the entrance area and lingerie, erotica and other goods further inside. However, they would not offer the hard-core pornography of the more usual sex store variety. “We want to become more rounded, softer,” said Christian Lindemann, one of the firm’s senior officials.

Ski script

Helsinki (AFP): The colourful life of Matti Nykaenen, Finland’s most successful ski jumper ever whose drinking and womanising have been well documented by the tabloids, is to be the subject of a new film. The movie will be directed by Aleksi Maekelae and made by the studio Solar Films. Its release is scheduled for January 2006, Finnish News Agency FNB reported. The 39-year-old Nykaenen won the first of his four world titles in 1982.


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