Famous Blue Diamonds
Profiles of eight of the largest and most famous (and infamous) blue diamonds. Sorry to say you won't stumble across any of these in your local pawnshop or on eBay - these gemstones are all in museums or private collections!
- The Hope Diamond
- Probably the best know blue diamond (and one of the most famous diamonds in the world), the 45.52 carat Hope Diamond is a fancy deep grayish blue diamond, presumed to have been mined in India. The first documented owner of this breathtaking diamond was a French merchant named Jean Baptiste Tavernier. At the time, it is said to have been a 112 carat diamond with a crude, triangular cut. In 1668, Tavernier sold it to King Louis XIV of France, who had it recut by court jeweler Sieur Pitau into a 67.12 carat stone and set in gold. It was nicknamed The French Blue, and was worn by King Louis on a ribbon around his neck on special occasions. During the French Revolution, the stone (along with the rest of the Crown Jewels) was turned over to the French government and subsequently stolen during looting in 1792.
In 1812 the Hope surfaced again, this time in the hands of London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason, who is assumed to have sold it to King George IV. In 1839 it was documented in the collection of Henri Louis Hope, from whom the diamond gets it's name. It remained in the Hope family until 1901, after which it was sold several times.
You may be wondering about the rumored Curse of the Hope Diamond - the claims that misfortune and tragedy have befallen all of the Hope's owners. In reality, the "curse" was just a clever marketing ploy - a combination of half-truths and out-and-out fiction, dreamt up by Pierre Cartier - presumably to enhance the diamond's mystique (and subsequent sale price!)
In 1912, the Hope diamond was purchased by the eccentric diamond mining heiress Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean. The exquisite diamond got little respect during it's time in the McLean household, where it was stored in a plain shoebox and occasionally worn by one of Mrs. McLean's dogs!
The Hope Diamond was purchased from the McLean estate in 1949 by Harry Winston Inc. After a decade of exhibitions, Harry Winston donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute, where it remains to this day - once again getting the royal treatment as one of the most visited exhibits in the museum.
- The Terschenko Diamond (the Mouawad Blue)
- The Terschenko diamond is a 42.92 pear shaped fancy blue believed to be of Indian origin. Originally owned by the Terschenko family (sugar barons in pre-communist Russia) it was smuggled out of the country just prior to the Russian revolution and ended up in the hands of a private owner. It remained in obscurity until 1984 when it resurfaced for auction at Christies, where it was purchased by Saudi Arabian diamond dealer Robert Mouawad for $4.5 million.
- The Wittelsbach Diamond
- At 35.56 Wittelsbach diamond is the 3rd largest blue diamond, as notable for it's unique dark blue color as for it's impressive size. It broke diamond auction records in December, 2008 when it was sold by Christies to London jeweler Laurence Graff for a jaw-dropping 23.4 million dollars. Former owners of this diamond include King Philip IV of Spain, Leopold I of Austria, and his granddaughter Maria Amalia - who married into the royal Wittelsbach family of Bavaria, from which the diamond takes it's name. [ Photo of the Wittelsbach diamond ]
- The Sultan of Morocco
- At 35.27 carats, the grayish-blue Sultan of Morocco is the 4th largest blue diamond. Once owned by Cartier, this cushion cut gemstone is believed to have been last sold in 1972, possibly by jeweler Laykin et Cie, to a private American collector. It was last seen on public display in 1969 at the New York State Museum's World of Gems exhibition.
- The Eugenie Blue (the Blue Heart)
- The 30.82 carats Eugenie Blue, also known as the Blue Heart diamond, is a heart-shaped fancy vivid or fancy deep blue diamond. Legend has it the the Blue Heart was once owned by Empress Eugenie (Eugénie de Montijo) - wife of Napolean III - but there's no real evidence of this and many experts doubt it to be true. The Blue Heart's country of origin is not known, but the diamond was cut into it's present-day heart shape around 1909 or 1910 by Atanik Ekyanan of Paris. It was then purchased by Cartier, and sold to an Argentinian woman (Mrs. Ungue). It remained in her possession until the mid 20th century when it was sold to Van Cleef and Arpels who subsequently sold it for $300,000 to a European family. A few short years later it was again purchased, this time by jeweler Harry Winston. It's last private owner was Marjorie Merriweather Post, who donated it to the Smithsonian museum , where it remains to this day - on display as part of the museum's diamond collecton.
- The Blue Lili Diamond
- A 30.06 carat, tapered cushion-cut blue diamond of unknown color grade. Not much is known about the Blue Lili, but it is believed to be from the Premier diamond mines in South Africa. It was purchased and cut by the William Goldberg Diamond Corporation.
- The Heart of Eternity Diamond
- This heart shaped fancy vivid blue diamond weighs in at 27.64 carats and originates, as do many other exquisite blue colored diamonds, from the Premier mines in South Africa. The Heart of Eternity is owned by a private collector and, as of this writing, is on loan to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
- The Blue Magic Diamond
- According to it's GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certificate, the Blue Magic is a 12.02 carat modified pear-shaped diamond of an exquisite fancy vivid (the highest color grade) blue color with a clarity of VVS-2.
In general, fancy blue diamonds continue to attract a lot of attention. Here are some notable, recent auction sales:
- May 2009 - an internally flawless, 7.03 carat cushion-cut, fancy vivid blue diamond sold for $9.48 million dollars - a record-setting high price-per-carat ever at Sotheby's Geneva auction.
- The Millennium Blue - a 5.16 carat pear-shape, internally flawless, fancy vivid blue, sold for $6.4 million dollars at Sotheby's Hong Kong auction in April, 2010.
- In October 2010, the largest known triangular fancy vivid blue diamond ever auctioned (10.95 carats), aka the Bulgari Blue, set yet another auction record of $15.7 million dollars, making it top gemstone sale of 2010.
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