Billed as one of the rarest and most famous diamonds in the world, the 76.02-carat internally flawless Archduke Joseph Diamond is expected to fetch more than $15 million at a Christie's auction in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 13.
A product of the legendary Golconda mine in India, the colorless cushion-cut Archduke Joseph Diamond shares its lineage with some of the largest and most spectacular diamonds ever discovered, including the 105.6-carat Koh-i-noor, the 45.52-carat Hope, and the 140.64-carat Regent.
Christie's auction headliner was named for Archduke Joseph August of Austria (1872-1962), who passed the gem on to his son, Archduke Joseph Francis (1895-1957) in the early 1930s. The son reportedly deposited the stone in a bank where it remained through World War II. It was later sold to a European banker.
After decades out of the spotlight, the diamond reappeared in 1961 at an auction in London, but remained unsold when it did not meet its reserve. Thirty-two years later, the diamond reappeared at Christie's and created a sensation when it sold for $6.5 million ($10.5 million in current dollars) to an anonymous buyer.
In 1999, Alfred J. Molina, owner of Phoenix-based Molina Fine Jewelers, purchased the Archduke Joseph Diamond in a private sale from the anonymous purchaser. Soon after, he had the famous 78.54-carat diamond recut, sacrificing 2.52 carats of its original weight. The recutting effort resulted in an internally flawless rating, greatly improving the previous grade of Slightly Included (SI-1).
The current owner of the diamond wants to remain anonymous, according to the Christie's. “The magic of auction sometimes brings back great gems to our salerooms more than once,” said François Curiel, international head of Christie’s Jewellery Department. “In November, we have the privilege to give both new and established collectors the opportunity to own a piece of history once again.”