Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but if she could choose a lifelong companion, it would have to be the extraordinary 31.06 carat Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond.
The rare blue diamond, which is going on display Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, boasts a famous history. Its past owners include King Philip IV of Spain, who used it as part of a dowry for his teenage daughter, Margaret Teresa, in 1664. It went through several royal families and millionaires before going into private hands in 1964. The diamond reappeared to the public in 2008 at an auction, when it was purchased by billionaire diamond dealer Laurence Graff for roughly $23.4 million — the highest price ever paid at auction for a diamond at the time.
The glittering gemstone made an appearance on TODAY, where it was held by TODAY host Natalie Morales. “This is quite the rock here,” said Morales. “It’s absolutely just perfect.”
According to the Gemological Institute of America, the diamond is “the largest Flawless or Internally flawless, Fancy Deep Blue, Natural Color we have graded to date.”
For a long time, experts wondered whether the diamond was cut from the same stone as the famous 45-carat Hope Diamond, but recent comparisons suggest that the theory is unlikely. Either way, such large rare stones comprise less than one in 10,000 of all diamonds found in nature.
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond was originally even bigger. At the time of purchase, the diamond was 35.56 carats, but in January 2010 it was reported that Graff had it recut to improve its color and remove chips and bruises. With its renovations, it lost 4.45 carats, a move that came under heavy criticism. “That stone has a pedigree that is incomparable,” Daniela Mascetti, a senior global specialist in jewelry at Sotheby’s, told the New York Times in January 2010. “The Wittelsbach blue, you knew how it came into existence and in a rather exciting way ... It is a shame to have altered what has been preserved for so many years.”
Graff, however, compared his renovations to those in the art world. “If you discovered a Leonardo da Vinci with a tear in it and covered in mud, you would want to repair it,” Graff said in an interview with the BBC. “We have similarly cleaned up the diamond and repaired damage caused over the years.”
Even with a few carats shaved off, the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond remains an impressive beauty, one that the public can now enjoy. “I decided that to create beauty, or acts of beauty, is not a sin,” Graff said. “All we did was remove the blemishes and now it’s true perfection.”