London–A 35.56-carat blue diamond broke through the financial gloom on Wednesday, setting a new world record price for a diamond sold at auction.
The deep grayish-blue gem, known as the Wittelsbach Diamond, sold for $24.3 million at Christie’s “Jewels: The London Sale,” topping the previous record of $16.5 million set by the sale of a 100-carat diamond in Geneva in 1995.
International jeweler Laurence Graff, of Graff Diamonds, snapped up the gem, outbidding Aleks Paul of Essex Global Trading, a professional of Russian origin based in New York.
The sale also sets a new world record price for any jewel sold at auction.
Francois Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe and auctioneer for the sale, said, “In the midst of these challenging times, we were thrilled to achieve a historic price for a historic diamond.”
Officially known as “Der Blaue Wittelsbacher,” the roots of this stone can be traced back to the 17th century.
In 1664, King Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665) included the diamond as part of the dowry of his daughter, Infanta Margarita Teresa (1651-1673), when she became engaged to Leopold I of Austria (1640-1705), a man who later became the Holy Roman Emperor.
The diamond subsequently became part of the Austrian and then the Bavarian crown jewels.
It has been part of a private collection since 1964; Wednesday marked its first offering to the international market in nearly 80 years.
Overall, “Jewels: The London Sale,” realized $27.2 million–including the $24 million Wittelsbach sale–and sold 55 percent by lot and 89 percent by value.
Other notable sales included a Belle Epoque diamond necklace/tiara dating back to 1900, purchased by the U.K. trade for $339,978, and a Cartier Art Deco diamond bracelet dating to 1930, also purchased by the U.K. trade, for $81,936.