The Jewelry Insider

December 12, 2008


As you jewelry hounds know, I’ve been tracking the Christie’s auction of the stunning 35.56-carat Wittelsbach blue diamond. The rare blue gem was expected to fetch around $15 million, but global economic woes and recent jewelry auction disappointments put the estimated figure in jeopardy, to say the least.

The 17th-century stone was originally given to Infanta Margarita Teresa by her father King Philip IV of Spain on the occasion of her engagement to her uncle, Leopold I of Austria. The diamond remained in royal custody for over 300 years until it found its way into a private collection, where it has remained since 1964.

So what did the historic diamond go for? How about a record-setting $24.3 million! Recession? What recession?

“In the midst of these challenging times, we were thrilled to achieve an historic price for an historic diamond,” said Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe and auctioneer for Wednesday’s sale.

The previous sales record was a mere $16.5 million for a 100-carat diamond in 1995.

International jeweler Laurence Graff was the wealthy winner on Wednesday, Christies said in a release. Graff was bidding against Aleks Paul of Essex Global Trading, a professional of Russian origin based in New York.

What on earth will Graff do with the dazzling diamond? According to Bloomberg news, Graff’s son, Francois, said they care less about the historical provenance of the stone and more about its unique diamond properties.

“We’re looking at the stone for what the stone is.” Graff Diamonds will re-cut the diamond with the intention of making the slightly chipped stone flawless and a deeper color, he said: “We’ll lose a few carats, but nothing too substantial.”

What’s a few carats between friends, really…

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