Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond

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Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond
Wittelsbach-Graff diamant.png
Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond 2009
Weight 31.06 carats (6.212 g)
Color Fancy Deep Blue
Cut Antique oval stellar brilliant
Country of origin India
Mine of origin Kollur Mine Guntur District
Date discovered Mid-1600s
Original owner Philip IV of Spain
Current owner Hamad bin Chalifa Al Thani
Estimated value US$80 million (June 2011)
The Wittelsbach Diamond in the Crown of Bavaria, just beneath the cross

The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond is a 31.06-carat (6.212 g) deep-blue diamond with internally flawless clarity. Laurence Graff purchased the Wittelsbach Diamond in 2008 for £16.4 million. In 2010, Graff revealed he had had the diamond cut by three diamond cutters to remove flaws. The diamond was now more than 4 carats (800 mg) lighter and was renamed the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond. There is controversy, as critics claim the recutting has so altered the diamond as to make it unrecognizable,[1] compromising its historical integrity.[2]

Wittelsbach Diamond[edit]

The original Wittelsbach Diamond, also known as Der Blaue Wittelsbacher,[3] was a 35.56-carat (7.112 g) fancy, deep, grayish-blue diamond with VS2 clarity that had been part of both the Austrian and the Bavarian Crown jewels.[4]

Its color and clarity had been compared to the Hope Diamond. The diamond had measured 24.40 millimetres (0.961 in) in diameter and 8.29 millimetres (0.326 in) in depth. It had 82 facets arranged in an atypical pattern. The star facets on the crown were vertically split, and the pavilion had sixteen needle-like facets arranged in pairs, pointing outward from the culet facet.[5]

History[edit]

On display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The diamond originates from the Kollur mines of Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh.[6] The story that King Philip IV of Spain purchased the jewel and included it in the dowry of his teenage daughter, Margaret Teresa, in 1664 is apocryphal. The first time the diamond was mentioned is about fifty years later when it was already in Vienna.[6] It was in the possession of the Habsburg family and came to Munich when, in 1722, Maria Amalia married Charles of Bavaria, a member of the Wittelsbach family.[7]

In 1745, the Wittelsbach Diamond was first mounted on the Bavarian Elector's Order of the Golden Fleece. When Maximilian IV Joseph von Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806, he commissioned a royal crown that prominently displayed the diamond. Until 1918, the jewel remained on top of the Bavarian crown. It was seen last in public at Ludwig III of Bavaria's funeral in 1921.[4][7]

The Wittelsbach family tried to sell the diamond in 1931 during the Great Depression but found no buyers. It eventually sold the jewel in 1951.[8] In 1958, the stone was exhibited at the World Expo in Brussels. In the 1960s, the Goldmuntz family asked Joseph Komkommer, a jeweler, to re-cut the diamond, but Komkommer recognized its historical significance and refused. Instead, he joined a group of dealers that bought it.[9] The diamond had been in a private collection since 1964;[7] Helmut Horten had presented to his wife Heidi at their wedding.[6]

On 10 December 2008, the 35.56-carat (7.112 g) Wittelsbach Diamond was sold to London-based jeweler Laurence Graff for £16.4 million sterling, or US$23.4 million, at the time the highest price ever paid at auction for a diamond. (The previous record had been held by a pear-shaped 100-carat (20 g) stone named the Star of the Season.) The record was eclipsed on 16 November, 2010, when a 24.78 carat pink diamond was sold for £29 million Sterling, or US$46 million, again to Mr. Graff.[10]

In June 2011, Graff apparently sold the diamond to the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Chalifa, for at least US$80 million.[11]

Alteration[edit]

Immediately following the sale, Graff announced his intention to recut the gem to remove damage to the girdle and enhance the color.[7][12][13]

On 7 January 2010, it was reported that the diamond had been recut to enhance the stone's color and clarity, losing over 4.45 carats (890 mg) in the process. The resulting stone has been renamed the Wittelsbach-Graff. The move was met with heavy criticism by some experts: Gabriel Tolkowsky called it "the end of culture."[6] Shortly after the auction of the diamond, American gem cutter and replicator of famous diamonds Scott Sucher stated, "In the case of the Wittelsbach, what's at stake is at minimum over 350 years of history, as every nick, chip, and scratch has a story to tell. Just because we can’t decipher these stories doesn’t mean they don’t exist."[14] The alteration of the historical stone has been compared by Professor Hans Ottomeyer, director of the Deutsches Historisches Museum of Berlin, to the overpainting of a painting by Rembrandt. It is opined that the recutting was done to increase its market value and, by extension, that of other "fancy diamonds".[6] As a result of the recut, which removed some chips and reduced the size of the culet by 40%, the gem has been reevaluated by the Gemological Institute of America and its color grade revised from "fancy deep grayish-blue", the same grade given by GIA to The Hope, to the more desirable "fancy deep blue". The diamond’s clarity had also been revised upward from "very slightly included" (VS1) to "internally flawless" (IF).

Further reading[edit]

  • Rudolf Dröschel, Jürgen Evers, Hans Ottomeyer: The Wittelsbach Blue, in: Gems and Gemology ISSN 0016-626X, 44 (2008), P. 348–363
  • Jürgen Evers, Leonhard Möckl, Heinrich Nöth: Der Wittelsbacher und der Hope-Diamant, in: Chemie in Unserer Zeit ISSN 0009-2851, 46 (2012), P. 356–364
  • Wise, Richard W., Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur's Guide To Precious gemstones, isbn:0-9728223-8-0 Fancy Blue Diamonds, p.235-236

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NYTimes.com- Recut and Renamed Wittels Diamond to Face Public and Critics. January 6, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "World's most famous 'unseen' diamond". BBC News. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Der Blaue Wittelsbacher". Haute Living blog. hauteliving.com. November 4, 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  4. ^ a b Christie's Press Release. November 3, 2008. Retrieved December 11, 2008.
  5. ^ Wittelsbach Diamond from famousdiamonds.tripod.com/
  6. ^ a b c d e Schulz M (2010-01-25). "Schleifstein der Schande" (in German). Der Spiegel. Retrieved 2010-01-30. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Diamond sells for recession-busting $24.3 M". CNN. December 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-11. "The diamond has a royal lineage. Christie's traces it thus: King Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665) selected the diamond in 1664 as part of a dowry for his daughter, the Infanta Margarita Teresa (1651-1673). She had become engaged to Leopold I of Austria (1640-1705), who later became Holy Roman Emperor. When she died in 1673, her husband retained the diamond, which was passed on to his heirs. In 1722, the diamond entered the Wittelsbach family when the Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria (1701-1756) married Bavarian Crown Prince Charles Albert (1697-1745). It was worn by successive rulers until the abdication of King Ludwig III (1845-1921) in 1918." 
  8. ^ Dröschel/Evers/Ottomeyer (Lit.)
  9. ^ The Times- Bavaria considers bid to bring mysterious Wittelsbach diamond home. November 7, 2008. Retrieved December 8, 2008
  10. ^ "BBC News - Rare Pink Diamond Sells for Record-breaking £29m." BBC - Homepage. 16 Nov. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11764757>.
  11. ^ Evers/Möckl/Nöth (Lit.), P. 363
  12. ^ GemWise; World Famous Wittelsbach Sells at Auction: http://gemwiseblogspotcom.blogspot.com/2009/01/really-blues-hope-wittelsbach-diamonds.html
  13. ^ The Earth Times- Historic diamond fetches 16 million pounds at London auction. 10 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008
  14. ^ http://www.museumdiamonds.com/~scottsuc/index.php/wittelsbach.html Scott Sucher's replica of the Wittelsbach