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The diamond that could fetch £24m

A rare pink diamond to be auctioned next week could set a new world record if it fetches its estimated price of £17m to 24m.

The 24.78-carat gem, described as "fancy intense pink", would beat the previous record set by auctioneers Christie's when it sold the blue 35.56-carat Wittelsbach-Graff diamond for £15.2m in 2008.

"This is undoubtedly one of the most important diamonds to appear at auction in recent years," David Bennett, the head of Sotheby's jewellery division, said in Geneva, where the auction will be held. Potential buyers had already taken a strong interest, he said, adding: "It's been very well viewed."

But diamond experts said Sotheby's price estimate was ambitious, based on an estimate of considerably more than the $750,000 that would be considered normal within the trade.