Saturday, June 20, 2009

Eugenie Blue Diamond



The Blue Heart diamond certainly did not belong to Empress Eugenie of France, but undoubtedly there is a French connection to this diamond, as the rough diamond was cut and polished, and transformed into it's modern heart-shaped form by the renowned French diamond cutting firm, Atanik Ekyanan of Neuilly, Paris between 1909 and 1910. Previously the origin of the diamond was uncertain, and thought to be either India or South Africa, even though by the beginning of the 20th century, most of the historical diamond mines of the Eastern Deccan Plateau in India were already abandoned.

The Blue Empress set in a platinum ring, surrounded by 25 white diamonds.

The Blue Empress set in a platinum ring, surrounded by 25 white diamonds.

However, this mystery has been solved and more information about the diamond has been unearthed, thanks to the untiring efforts of the dedicated scientists of the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, the present owners of the diamond. The researches went into the archives of De Beers, and unearthed evidence to show that the diamond was discovered in the Premier diamond mines of South Africa, in November, 1908, and the rough stone weighed 102 carats. The rough stone was eventually cut and polished in Paris as stated earlier and sold to Cartier's, who set the diamond in a "Lily of the Valley" corsage and sold it to an Argentinean woman Mrs. Unzue. The diamond remained in the Unzue family until 1953, when it was purchased by the jewelry firm Van Cleef & Arpels, who dismantled the corsage setting, and re-set the diamond in a pendant, surrounded by 25 colorless or white diamonds. The pendant and the accompanying necklace was priced at $ 300,000, and was sold to an unnamed European titled family. In 1959, Harry Winston acquired the diamond, and re-set it again in a platinum ring and sold it to Marjorie Merriweather Post. The diamond remained with Mrs. Post until the 1960s, when she finally decided to donate the rare blue diamond to the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, at Washington DC, where it is on display in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, in the National Museum of Natural History.

Natural blue diamonds surpass all other gemstones for their sheer beauty, and it is this uniqueness in their beauty combined with their rarity, that make them the most sought after diamonds by collectors and connoisseurs, around the world. The sale of a rare fancy vivid blue diamond weighing 6.04 carats at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, on October 8, 2007, for a record-breaking price of 7.98 million, therefore comes as little surprise to those in the trade and the well informed. The $ 1.32 million per carat price of this diamond has broken the 20-year old world record, set by the Hancock Red (Halphen Red) diamond in 1987, which sold at $ 926,000 per carat. The diamond is reported to have been purchased by Moussaieff Jewelers of London, who in 2001 purchased another extremely rare 5.11-carat red diamond known as the "Red Shield," for an undisclosed amount, from the William Goldberg Corporation of New York. The Red Shield was subsequently re-named the "Moussaieff Red," which is the largest red diamond in the world.

The Blue Heart.

Some reports refer to this unusual diamond as the
"Eugenie Blue" although it is now recognized that there
is no evidence of its having been owned by the Empress. Had she owned it, wouldn't she have chosen to flee with
it rather than the diamond which is named after her? However, a French link does exist because the cutting
firm of Atanik Ekyanan of Neuilly, Paris cut this heart shape, which weighs 30.82 metric carats and is of a rare deep blue color, sometime between 1909 and 1910. This date raises the question whether the rough stone came from Africa or India.

Another photo of the stone, this time in its platinum
ring surrounded by 25 white diamonds. The photo at
the top of the page of the stone out of its setting is
the only one I have seen, which leads me to believe
that it was put back into the ring setting sometime
after the photo was taken.

In 1910 Cartier purchased the diamond and sold it to an Argentinian woman named Mrs. Unzue. At the time, it was set in a lily-of-the-valley corsage and remained so until Van Cleef & Arpels bought the gem in 1953. They exhibited it set in a pendant to a necklace valued at $300,000 and sold it to a European titled family. In 1959 Harry Winston acquired the gem, selling it five years later, mounted in a ring, to Marjorie Merriweather Post. Finally Mrs. Post donated to the Blue Heart to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. where it remains to this day.

The Eugenie Blue Diamond amoung other diamonds in the Smithsonian's collection. The round yellow diamond in the back weighs about 12 carats. The Shepard Diamond is the large yellow cushion shaped
stone, weighing 18.30 carats. The round brilliant white diamond is the Pearson Diamond, weighing 16.72 carats. The pink pear shape weighs 2.86 carats, and the two uncut green diamonds weigh 2.05 and 0.97 carats. The round yellow diamond weighs about 12 carats. Sources:

Three of the world's most famous blue diamonds.

Left to right: The Heart of Eternity, the Hope, and the Blue Heart Diamond; 27, 45 and 30 carats, respectively. The Hope looks larger than 45 carats because it is a rather flat stone. The Heart of Eternity is Fancy Vivid Blue, the Hope is Fancy Deep Grayish-Blue and the Blue Heart's color grade is still unknown. (Probably Fancy Vivid
or Fancy Deep.


Mary of Burgundy is the first known recipient of a diamond engagement ring, in 1477. Because of their extraordinary physical properties, diamonds have been used symbolically since near the time of their first discovery. Perhaps the earliest symbolic use of diamonds was as the eyes of Hindu devotional statues.
The diamonds themselves were thought to be endowments from the gods and were therefore cherished. The point at which diamonds began to be associated with divinity is not known, but early texts indicate that it was recognized in India since at least 400 BCE. It is said the Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the gods; the Romans believed they were splinters of fallen stars. Many long dead cultures have sought to explain diamond's superlative properties through divine or mystical affiliations. In Tibetan Buddhism, also known as Vajrayana Diamond Vehicle, diamonds are an important symbol, and the Diamond Sutra is one of the most popular texts. In Western culture, diamonds are the traditional emblem of fearlessness and virtue, but have also often associated with power, wealth, crime and misfortune. Today, diamonds are used to symbolize eternity and love, being often seen adorning engagement rings and sometimes wedding rings as well. The popularity of this modern tradition can be traced directly to the marketing campaigns of De Beers, starting in 1938. The diamond engagement ring is, however, not an original invention of De Beers. It can be traced to the marriage of Maximilian I then Archduke of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Other early examples of betrothal jewels incorporating diamonds include the Bridal Crown of Blanche ca. 1370–80 and the Heftlein brooch of Vienna ca. 1430–40, a pictorial piece depicting a wedding couple. Inaccessibility of diamonds to the vast majority of the population limited the popularity of diamonds as betrothal jewels during this period. Diamonds were also a symbol of gay community in the 1950s. The Mattachine Society, one of the first and the foremost gay rights groups in the United States, used so-called harlequin diamonds four smaller diamonds arranged in a pattern to form one larger diamonds .

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