luxury

Royal blue diamond hits public market for the first time after 300 years

Updated 28th March 2018
Credit: Courtesy Sotheby's
Royal blue diamond hits public market for the first time after 300 years
Written by Allyssia Alleyne, CNN
Over the last 300 years, it's passed through the hands of royals from four European dynasties. But in May, the 6.16-carat Farnese Blue diamond will go on sale for the first time in its history at a Sotheby's auction.
The pear-shaped fancy dark grey-blue diamond was unearthed from the Golconda mine in India, where the Hope Diamond discovered. It was originally gifted to the Italian-born Elisabeth Farnese, queen of Spain, in 1715, following her marriage to King Philip V of Spain.
It would be passed down through more than seven generations and, as Elisabeth's descendants married into other European families, journey across the continent, traveling from Spain to France, Italy and Austria.
The Farnese Diamond is being sold with a detachable fitting, a case and a plaque explaining its provenance.
The Farnese Diamond is being sold with a detachable fitting, a case and a plaque explaining its provenance. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby's
At key points it adorned a tie pin belonging to Charles II, Duke of Lucca, and a tiara dressed with diamonds thought to have belonged to Marie Antoinette. And yet, for much of history, the diamond was known only to family members and the jewelers who tended to it.

'Fragments of history'

Next month, a family descended from Queen Elisabeth will be selling the stone at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels auction in Geneva, with the upper estimate set at 5 million Swiss francs ($5.27 million).
However, David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby's international jewelry division, suggests that the diamond could sell for more: 75% of the jewels sold at 2017's Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sales exceeded their top estimate.
"Royal and noble collectors have traditionally had access to the finest gemstones available, and so the gems which adorn these pieces often display the very highest quality, size and rarity," Bennett said in an email. "They are fragments of history and there is currently great enthusiasm for jewels of this type."
The Farnese Blue will go on public display at the Sotheby's Hong Kong showroom on on March 29, and will be exhibited in London, New York, Singapore, Taipei and Geneva before the auction.