Arts and Entertainment | Style

Wittelsbach-Graff diamond exhibit: Museum of Natural History show is a jewel lover's best friend

There was a time when most college girls hoped for a diamond by graduation. Marriage is no longer a college priority, but that doesn’t mean a girl can’t still appreciate diamonds. For those who feel the same, the Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond, which was unveiled in the Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History Thursday afternoon, is one of the most appreciated diamonds to date.

On display through Jan. 2, the 31.06-carat, “fancy deep blue” giant was originally found in India, and was once rumored to be a sister of the even more colossal 45.52-carat Hope Diamond, which is at the Smithsonian.

The Wittelsbach-Graff diamond passed into its first royal hands in 1664 when King Philip IV of Spain gave it to his daughter Margarita Teresa. The “Wittelsbach” of its name came about in the mid 18th century, when it was the prized jewel of the ruling Wittelsbach family of Bavaria. The diamond then mysteriously disappeared until 2008, when Laurence Graff of Graff Diamonds bought it at an auction for 16.4 million pounds, repolished it, and made it flawless by cutting away from its original 35.56-carats.

This is not just an exhibit for girly frivolity and noble history—there is also science behind it. AMNH’s Ellen Futter, in prelude to the opening, called it an “intersection of art and science.” Dr. George Harlow, the exhibit curator, then went on to explain that this particular diamond must have been formed over 100 miles under the Earth’s surface billions of years ago. Only one in 100,000 diamonds has strong color, few of those are blue, and very few of those have the Graff diamond’s “fancy deep blue.”

The encased diamond has a plush enclave to itself, the dark grey walls punctuated with burgundy information panels. Unfortunately, the dark lighting, and blue, lightly metallic background surface somewhat muffle the diamond’s dazzle. Viewed at from a certain angle, a smear is also visible across the surface. Still, as Futter said, “If it’s true what they say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then this diamond would be her very, very best friend—that is, her BFF.”
To further satisfy a craving for fine jewels, check out luxe jewelry store F.D., opening today on the Upper East Side (21 East 65th St., between Fifth and Madison avenues). Owner Fiona Druckenmiller, a charitable socialite and wife of billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller, will fill the 1,500-square-foot space with choice pieces of rare and vintage jewelry, as well as covetable books and art works. Realistically more of a museum outing than shopping one, students can leave wallets at home—unless they’re packed with the hundreds to cover the low-end of Druckenmiller’s stock.

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