If you are headed anywhere near the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History from now until August, there is a treat in store if you care to visit. Exhibited next to the famous Hope diamond,the museum's star gem, is the elusive Wittelsbach-Graff diamond. It's not been seen in public for over 50 years!

The internally flawless fancy deep blue Wittelsbach-Graff diamond is smaller (just over 31 carats) than the Hope (45.52 carats) and was originally thought to have been part of the latter. But tests ruled that out. But like the Hope, it did originate in India and is also one of the legendary gemstones of the world.

This rarely seen gemstone has a history of disappearing acts through the last four centuries. It first appears in historical records in 1664 as a gift to the Infanta Margarita Theresa, the daughter of Philip IV of Spain when she became engaged to Emperor Leopold I of Austria. By 1722, the diamond transferred to the Wittelsbachs, rulers of Bavaria. It sold in 1931 but  mysteriously vanished just before the auction. It resurfaced in 1951  and was exhibited in 1958.

It wasn't seen again until 2008 when Laurence Graff, a billionaire gem dealer bought it at auction for more than $25 million! He then had the gemstone re-cut and polished .... and dropped the weight down from 35.5 carats to its current 31 carats. The decision was controversial because some critics insist its historical integrity has been compromised. But Graff is unrepentant. He said , "If you discovered a Leonardo da Vinci with a tear in it and covered in mud, you would want to repair it. We have similarly cleaned up the diamond and repaired damage caused over the years."

It may be exhibited at London's Natural History Museum next. Or it may be sold. Who knows when we will get to see it again? Via

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