The 6.16 carat pear-shaped fancy dark grey-blue diamond, known as The Farnese Blue has passed down through the Dukes of Parma. Kept secretly in a casket, as its owners negotiated the War of the Spanish succession and the fall of the Habsburg empire, few knew of its existence.
It will be offered in Sotheby’s sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva on May 15 with an estimate of SFr3.5-5m.
Originating in the Golconda diamond mines of India, the stone was originally given to Elisabeth Farnese, the queen of Spain, following her wedding to King Philip V of Spain in Parma in 1714. It then passed through four European royal dynasties - its full history of ownership detailed in an inventory of the family jewels compiled by Maria Anna von Habsburg (1882-1940), Archduchess of Austria. For much of its life it was mounted on a diamond diadem which had belonged Marie-Thérèse de France (1778-1851), the first child of Louis XVI (1754-1793) and Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793) and the only one of their children to survive the French Revolution.
The Farnese Blue joins a number of historic gems sold by Sotheby’s in Geneva over the last decade. Among them were the Beau Sancy - a 35-carat diamond worn by Marie de Medici in 1610 at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henri IV – which sold for SFr9m ($9.7m) in Geneva in May 2012 and the Donnersmarck tiara, composed of 11 Colombian emerald pear-shaped drops weighing over 500 carats which fetched SFr11.3m ($12.7m) in May 2011.
The Farnese Blue will be exhibited at Sotheby’s Hong Kong from March 29-April 2 before an international tour to London, New York, Singapore, Taipei and Geneva.