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Wittelsbach Diamond

I used to think that the  Blue  Wittelsbach  Diamond  did not have as rich a history as the likes  of The Hope Diamond or The Koh-I-Nur etc.  However,  on  the  10th  December  2008,  The  Blue Wittelsbach Diamond rightfully earned its  place in history, becoming the most expensive  gemstone ever sold at auction, when purchased  by  Laurence  Graff  for  £16.4  million  ($24  million) at an auction held by Christie’s. (Laurence Graff then went on to supersede his own record in November 2010 when he bought a 24.78 carat Pink Diamond for £29 million, or $46 million, sold at auction by Sotheby's).

When Graff purchased it, the  Wittelsbach  Diamond  was greyish  blue  in  colour, weighed an impressive 35.56ct, measuring  almost an inch in diameter, VS2 in clarity and  wonderfully cushion cut featuring 82 facets. However, in a rather controversial move, Graff got the stone re-cut in order to remove flaws, reducing the carat weight to 31 carats. The stone was then renamed the 'Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond'.

The history of the gemstone is a little hazy. It  is almost definitely of Indian origin and  it was once believed  to have been part of the  French Blue Diamond from which the famous  Hope Diamond was once cut. However, tests proved that this was not the case, and that these two Diamonds are more like cousins than siblings.

Although the gem’s history is not as certain as  other famous gemstones, it is believed to have  been passed as a gift from one royal family to  another. From the 1700's it became the Royal Bavarian 'family diamond', until the last king of Bavaria abdicated in 1918. At one time the gem was the central gem in the  Bavarian crown; in fact some suggest that several  of its flaws on its crown facets were inflicted as  it was removed. I

The Diamond was apparently lost at the end of  the First World War and documentation of its  history is said to have been destroyed during the  Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

In  1931  Christie’s  attempted  to  auction  the  diamond but it did not meet the reserve price. In  1960 the owners of the gem asked the legendary  Lapidarist  Joseph  Komkommer  to  re-cut  the  gemstone  to  make  it  more  symmetrical,  but  realising its historical importance he refused to  do so.

n 2006 a major embarrassment  was caused to the Bavarian authorities when they had to display their crown with blue glass as the central gem,  in place of the real diamond.

Days prior to the 2008 auction, Bavaria’s Prime  Minister  told  British  newspapers  that  he  was going to attempt to buy the gem in the auction to restore Bavarian pride, but was in the end outbid!

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