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!