This spring, the Farnese Blue, a diamond with an incredible historic pedigree, will be offered by Sotheby’s—marking the first time the gem has ever been brought to auction. Originally given to Queen of Spain Elisabeth Farnese by the Philippines to celebrate her marriage to King Philip in 1714, the gem was later owned by a descendant of France’s last queen, Marie Antoinette. Over the next 300 years, it was furtively passed down through four European royal families. The 6.16-carat, pear-shaped dark gray-blue diamond was hidden in a casket as it traveled through Spain, France, Italy, and Austria.
“With its incredible pedigree, the Farnese Blue ranks among the most important historic diamonds in the world,” said Dr. Philipp Herzog von Württemberg, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and managing director of Germany, in a statement from the auction house. “From the first minute I saw the stone, I could not resist its magic, and as such, it is a huge privilege to have been entrusted with this sale.”
Blue has often been identified as the color of kings and in the 17th and 18th centuries, blue diamonds were viewed as the ultimate royal gift. Like the famous Hope and Wittelsbach diamonds, the Farnese Blue was certainly found in the famed Golconda mines of India, which was the sole source of diamonds until the discoveries in Brazil in the 1720s.
“It is difficult to put into words the excitement of holding between thumb and forefinger a gem discovered centuries ago, knowing it originated in the legendary Golconda diamond mines of India,” said David Bennett, chairman of Sotheby’s international jewelry division and co-chair of Sotheby’s Switzerland. “This stone has witnessed 300 years of European history and in color is reminiscent of historic Golconda blue gems such as the Hope Diamond.”
The legendary diamond will be offered at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale in Geneva on May 15. Its estimated value is between $3.7 million and $5.3 million.