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The astounding ‘Archduke’ diamond
As I’ve noted in this blog before, getting the chance to view some of the world’s most spectacular gemstones in person at Christie’s is and always has been one of my favorite aspects of this job.
On Friday, I took my third trip (not counting my numerous treks to see Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry earlier this year) uptown to the auction house to see the 76.02-carat, D-internally flawless “Archduke Joseph Diamond,” once owned by Archduke Joseph August of Austria, Palatine of Hungary.
On a previous trip to Christie’s in 2009, I saw the D-flawless 32.01-carat Annenberg Diamond, which went on to astonish at auction, selling for $7.7 million. In April 2010, it was the 39.55-carat Emperor Maximilian Diamond (sold for $1.8 million; this diamond was I color, VS1 clarity), a stone with an interesting place in history, just like the Archduke Diamond.
The diamond originated in India’s famed Golconda mines, the earliest known mines to man, dating to 400 B.C. before being exhausted of supply by 1725.
It likely belonged to an Indian family--perhaps one of the leaders of the Great Mughal Empire that once ruled India and was at the peak of its power in the 1600 and 1700s--before falling into European hands.
The Archduke Joseph passed the diamond down to his son, who sold it to an anonymous buyer. That buyer left it in a safe during World War II where it somehow was overlooked by the Nazis.
Like so many other great diamonds, there are some stretches of the stone’s history that remain a mystery, though it did reappear on the auction scene in 1961 and again in 1993, when Christie’s sold it for $6.5 million--the equivalent of $10.5 million today.
It is this same buyer who brings the stone back to Christie’s in Geneva now, selling what likely will turn out to have been a wise investment. The Archduke Joseph Diamond is expected to garner close to $20 million, meaning it will have tripled--at least--in value over the last 19 years.
(Photo credit: Tony Falcone)
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