Historic 6-Carat ‘Farnese Blue’ Diamond Sells for $6.7M

AuctionsMay 16, 2018

Historic 6-Carat ‘Farnese Blue’ Diamond Sells for $6.7M

The pear-shaped fancy dark gray-blue diamond was passed down through generations of European royals.

The “Farnese Blue,” a 6.16-carat pear-shaped fancy dark gray-blue diamond, was kept secret for centuries as it passed through the hands of some of Europe’s most important royals. It sold for $6.7 million at Sotheby’s Geneva Tuesday.

Geneva--A diamond passed down through generations of European royals now belongs to one anonymous buyer who paid $6.7 million for it.

The 6.16-carat “Farnese Blue” diamond was known only to the families who possessed it for centuries until it popped up at auction, a highlight of Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale held Tuesday in Geneva.

The stone went for well above its pre-sale estimate of $3.7 million to $5.3 million

The pear shaped fancy dark gray-blue diamond was found in the Golconda mines of India, which also produced the famous Hope and Wittelsbach-Graff diamonds.

The stone was given to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain (1692-1766) and descendant of Pope Paul III, following her wedding to King Philip V of Spain, grandson of Louis XIV, King of France.

Because the wedding was held in 1714, after the War of the Spanish Succession had depleted the country’s finances, the Spanish government demanded its colonies send wedding presents to Madrid.

In August 1715, the so-called Golden Fleet sailed from Cuba: 12 ships carrying gold bullion and emeralds. After only 10 days of sailing, a hurricane in the Florida gulf destroyed all but one ship.

The emeralds were thought to be lost, but one diamond made its way to Spain—a pear-shaped blue diamond, gifted to the new Spanish queen by the governor of the Philippine Islands.

For the next 300 hundred years, as Elisabeth and Philip of Spain’s descendants married, the stone was passed down through four of the most important royal families in Spain, France, Italy and Austria.

In the early 1800s, one of the Farnese Blue’s owners had a tie-pin setting created for the diamond, and another mounted it on a diadem worn by his mother.

The Farnese Blue even has a written record of its journey, thanks to a detailed inventory of family jewelry compiled by Maria Anna von Habsburg (1882-1940), Archduchess of Austria.

Tuesday’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction totaled $85.7 million.

Though the Farnese Blue might’ve received the most attention, it actually wasn’t the sale’s top lot.

That honor went to the round brilliant 51.71-carat Type IIa, D color flawless diamond seen above, which sold for $9.3 million.

The No. 2 lot, finishing just ahead of the Farnese Blue, was an oval-shaped 50.39-carat Type IIa, D color flawless diamond.

Both diamonds were discovered in Botswana, according to Sotheby’s.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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