Large blue diamond expected to fetch about $15 million

Mon Nov 3, 2008 9:10am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A 35.56 carat 17th century blue diamond, part of the dowry of the Infanta Margarita Teresa on her engagement to Leopold I of Austria, is expected to fetch in the region of $15 million when it goes on sale in December.

Christie's said on Monday it is putting the Wittelsbach Diamond on to the international market for the first time in almost 80 years.

"The appearance of a large blue diamond, among the rarest of colors, with a history that can be traced back to the 17th Century and 300 years of royal connections will surely be a thrilling occasion for all collectors of ... rare jewels," said Francois Curiel, international head of jewelry.

According to Christie's, King Philip IV of Spain selected the finest gemstones for the dowry of his 15-year-old daughter, the Infanta, upon her betrothal.

This included the diamond going under the hammer at a London auction on December 10.

On the princess's death in 1673, her husband, Emperor Leopold, retained the dowry and the diamond was passed on to his heirs.

In 1722 the diamond entered the Wittelsbach family. It is being sold from a private collection.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White)

 
<p>A diamond is held for a photograph in this undated handout image, received in London November 3, 2008. A 35.6 carat 17th century blue diamond, part of the dowry of the Infanta Margarita Teresa on her engagement to Leopold I of Austria, is expected to fetch in the region of $15 million when it goes on sale in December. REUTERS/Christies/ Handout</p>