This Thursday October 28th, the exquisite and rare blue 31.06 carat Wittlesbach-Graff Diamond is set to be displayed to the public at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Admired for its size, color and remarkable history, the original Fancy Deep Grayish Blue diamond with VS2 clarity included past owners such as King Philip IV of Spain who used the gemstone as part of a dowry for his teenage daughter, Margaret Teresa, in 1664. Since then, it has gone through the hands of several royal families and millionaires before being sold to a private owner in 1964. The diamond resurfaced once again in 2008 where billionaire diamond dealer, Lawrence Graff purchased the stone during a record smashing auction for approximately $23.4 million. For diamonds and gemstones, this was the highest price paid at auction for one at the time.
Experts theorized for a long time whether the diamond was cut from the same stone as the Hope Diamond. Recent examinations however, have suggested this is unlikely. The original Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond was 35.56 carats after being cut and polished. However, in January 2010, Graff decided to re-cut the gem to enhance the stone’s color and clarity, resulting in a 4.45 carat loss as well as a cloud of heavy public criticism. “That stone has a pedigree that is incomparable,” Daniela Mascetti, a senior global specialist in jewelry at Sotheby’s said to the New York Times “The Wittlesback blue, you knew how it came into existence and in a rather exciting way…It is a shame to have altered what has been preserved for so many years.”
Graff responded to criticism by comparing his restoration to what is occasionally done in the art world. “If you discovered a Leonardo da Vinci with a tear in it and covered in mud, you would want to repair it. We have similarly cleaned up the diamond and repaired damage caused over the years,” Graff told BBC News in January 2010. “I decided that to create beauty, or acts of beauty, is not a sin,” Graff said. “All we did was remove the blemishes and now it’s true perfection.”, he added.
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) evaluated the diamond after being re-cut and graded the clarity as Internally Flawless or IF(improved from Very Slightly Included or VS1) and color as Fancy Deep Blue(amended from Fancy Deep Grayish Blue). The diamond is “the largest Flawless or Internally Flawless, Fancy Deep Blue, Natural Color we have graded to date.”, says a G.I.A. spokesperson. The stone will be displayed at the American Museum of Natural History Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, through January 2, 2011.