Diamonds dazzle among gold-weary investors

(CBS News) The perfect stone may be the perfect place to put your money.

More and more, gem stones and other jewels are becoming a go-to alternative investment.

This week, the world's-largest flawless diamond was sold at auction in Geneva. The pear-shaped diamond is the size of a golf ball and weighs in at a whopping 101.73 carats. It sold to the Harry Winston Jewelry Group for $26.7 million -- a record for this kind of diamond. Each carat cost roughly $250,000. The diamond has also been named, dubbed "Winston Legacy."

And the way the market's headed, that legacy may be assured as a pretty sound investment. Even more modest one carat diamonds have seen a 30 percent increase in the past five years.

With gold prices plummeting and currency markets all over the place, international collectors see jewels as a safe place to store their wealth over the long term.

James Riley, of the Gemological Association of Great Britain, said, "Of all the consumer items, luxury goods you can buy, its probably the most bullet-proof investment you can make."

Riley, a sixth-generation jeweler, says investment aside, diamonds should be seen as a unique work of art. "It's not just about its color, its clarity -- it's about sparkle, scintillation and brilliance, and what does something for you, may not do it for me, or the next guy down the street," Riley said.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but throughout history, the big collectors have been men, from King Tut to Henry VIII to current big-money investors.

Gems are also considered a getaway asset in a turbulent world. Unlike a pile of gold bullion or an easily-frozen or siphoned bank account, all you have to do is slip your fortune on a finger, or around a neck to keep it safe.


Or, in some cases, a crown. Asked if anything in his business is priceless, Riley replied, "The British crown jewels, they are, almost certainly priceless."

Although, however fortunes change, her majesty may not feel the pinch to part with those family jewels anytime soon.

Watch Charlie D'Agata's full report in the video above.

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