The Blue Wittelsbach Diamond is one of the most precious gemstones in the world. Its story is shrouded in mystery, intrigue, centuries of royal history and drama. This breathtakingly beautiful gem is 35.56 carats of one of the most pristine VS2 deep, greyish- blue diamonds in recorded history. In December of 2008, the Blue Wittelsbach Diamond sold at a Christie’s auction for a record-breaking $24, 311,190 to world renowned jeweler Laurence Graff.
To fully understand the value of this diamond, one must first examine the rich history that surrounds it. During the 1600’s, King Philip IV of Spain selected one of his most precious gems for the dowry of his daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa. She married Emperor Leopold I of Austria and, upon her death in 1673; he passed the diamond on to his heirs. In 1722, this gem was given the name “Der Blaue Wittelsbacher” and is one of the rare gems that can claim 17th century heritage. The diamond fell into the hands of the Wittelsbach family when the Austria’s Archduchess Maria Amalia married the Charles Albert, Bavarian Crown Prince. It was prominently worn by the family until King Ludwig III relinquished the throne in 1918. This was the last time the Blue Wittelsbach Diamond would be worn by a member of a royal family.
Many jewelry historians have theorized that this gem is of Indian origin; until 1723 all of the diamonds worn by European royalty came from India. Some believe that it a part of the infamous French Blue Diamond. The French Blue diamond, in its rough state, weighed 112.5 carats. It was bought in India and sold to Louis XIV of France. This rough diamond was made into the famous Hope diamond, which weighs 45.52 carats. Many dispute this theory based on the size of both gems.
In 1931, Christie’s auction house offered the public a chance to bid on the Bavarian Crown Jewel collection which included the Wittelsbach diamond. Although the impressive gem was up for sale, the diamond wasn’t purchased by a private collector until 1964. In fact, the diamond is rumored to have vanished and had been up for sale on the black market. In 1962, a man named Mr. Komkommer was asked to assess an old diamond that was about to be recut by a dealer. Upon looking at the diamond, he immediately realized the diamond’s value because of its rare, dark blue color. He advised the dealer not to recut and, with the help of his son, they identified the diamond as the lost gem that once belonged to the Wittelsbach family. He then rallied a group of Belgian and American diamond buyers; who then purchased the diamond. At the time, it was valued at 180 thousand English pounds. The diamond made its way into the hands of a private collector in 1964, where it remained until it was up for auction by Christie’s.
Mr. Graff, the winner of the record-breaking Christie’s bid for the Wittelsbach diamond, says he plans on polishing and recutting the infamous gem to restore it to its original beauty before selling it.