The Archduke Joseph Diamond

This 76.45-carat diamond gets its name from from Archduke Joseph August (1872-1962), a previous owner of the gem and a prince of the Hungarian line of the Hapsburg dynasty. The Archduke was a descendant of the Emperor Leopold II, son of Empress Maria Theresa who owned the famous Florentine Diamond, one of the most notable and unique diamonds in history and an heirloom of the Hapsburgs for many years. But whereas the Florentine was unusually large for an Indian diamond and light yellow in color, the Archduke Joseph is a colorless diamond; it possesses the most notable characteristic of the best Golconda diamonds, namely a high internal clarity. Thus its D-color certification. It is cut in a rectangular cushion shape, perhaps a style of cutting that is not entirely unfitting with its Indian origin. It has horizontally divided pavilion main facets.

The Archduke Joseph - better known as Joseph of Alcsut - was the oldest son of Duke Joseph Carl Ludwig and Princess Clothilde of Saxe-Coburg. He married Augusta in 1893, daughter of Prince Leopold of Bavaria, Duchess of Gisela, and a granddaughter of Emperor Franz Joseph. He began his eminent military career in 1902 when he enlisted in the Hungarian territorial reserve, simultaneously studying law at Budapest University. On the death of Emperor Franz Joseph he became commander of the Hungarian front line forces during World War I, reconquering the eastern part of Siebenburgen and initiated the negotiations for a cease-fire. In October of 1918, he was named Regent of Hungary by the Emperor Charles I, but his efforts for forming a government were overturned by the onset of the October 31st Revolution, whereupon he retired to his Alcsut estate.

The dazzling Archduke Joseph diamond sold for just under $21.5million last night, setting a new world auction record price per carat for a colorless diamond. It went for well above the expected $15million and more than triple the price paid for it at a sale almost two decades ago. The four-hundred-year-old gem, that came from the ancient Golconda mines in India, fits snugly into the palm of an adult's hand and weighs a staggering 76.02 carats.

The Archduke Joseph diamond gets its name from its first known owner Archduke Joseph August Viktor Klemens Maria (1872-1962) of Austria, Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, a prince of the Hungarian line of the Hapsburg dynasty, who distinguished himself in the battle field as a commander of the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I, on the side of the Central Powers, and was promoted as Field Marshal at the end of the war. Archduke Joseph was a great-grandson of Emperor Leopold II, son of Empress Maria Theresa.