The 6.16-carat pear-shaped Farnese Blue Diamond, which sold for $6.7 million at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on May 15,2018. (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s.)
A 6.16-carat pear-shaped fancy colored diamond called the Farnese Blue Diamond was the most celebrated item at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on May 15, and it appeared to live up to its billing, going for $6.7 million, almost $1.5 million higher than its pre-sale estimate.
But it was not the most valuable of the items on offer. Taking the top spot was a 51.71-carat round white diamond, described as the second largest D Flawless brilliant-cut diamond ever to have appeared at auction, which sold for $9.2 million. On its heels was 50.39-carat oval diamond that sold for $8.1 million.
Both the white diamonds had been sourced in Botswana, as rough diamonds of 196 carats and 155 carats respectively.
THE ONLY SURVIVING DIAMOND OF SPAIN’S GOLDEN FLEET
The first historical record of the Farnese diamond dates back more than 300 years ago, when Spain’s King Philippe V married an Italian princess, Elisabeth Farnese. At the time, the country’s economy was in shambles, after years of war.
Because of the sorry state of its treasury, the Spanish government wrote to the governors of all its colonies, ordering them to send wedding gifts to Madrid. In August 1715 the Golden Fleet sailed from Cuba carrying the bounty, but after 10 days at sea, a hurricane destroyed most of the ships, with only one vessel and one notable gemstone escaping its fury. It was a loose pear-shaped blue diamond that had been offered to the new Spanish Queen by the governor of the Philippines Islands.
That provenance of the stone was recorded on silver plaque on the box in which the diamond was kept as it was handed down from generation to generation. It read in French: “Remarkable blue brilliant. This historical stone was offered by the Philippine Islands to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, wife of Philippe V, great grandfather of the Comte of Villafranca, current owner of that stone.”
Elisabeth Farnese, the Italian princess who married Spain’s King Philippe V in 1714, and after whom the Farnese Blue Diamond is named.
OTHER FANCY COLOR RECORDS FALL IN GENEVA
Other records for fancy colored diamonds fell at the Sotheby’s auction in Geneva. They include a 2.63-carat fancy vivid purplish pink diamond, which went for $2.4 million, a record price for a fancy vivid purplish pink diamond.
A 9.70-carat fancy light purplish pink diamond sold for $2.59 million, setting a price-per-carat record for fancy light purplish pink diamonds. A 5.04-carat fancy purple-pink diamond ring sold for $1.4 million, which was a new auction record price and a new auction record price-per-carat for a fancy purple-pink diamond, and 2.52-carat fancy vivid yellowish green diamond sold for $938,174, setting a new world auction record price for a fancy vivid yellowish green diamond.
The total value of the Sotheby’s sale in Geneva sale was $85.6 million. Some 82 percent of the 372 lots were sold, with 70 percent going for amounts above their pre-sale estimates.
The top lot in the Sotheby’s sale. The 51.71-carat round white diamond, described as the second largest D Flawless brilliant-cut diamond ever to have appeared at auction, which sold for $9.2 million. (Photos courtesy of Sotheby’s)
The 2.63-carat fancy vivid purplish pink diamond, which went for $2.4 million, a record price for a fancy vivid purplish pink diamond. (Photos courtesy of Sotheby’s)