Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Weight 45.52 carats
Color Fancy Dark Grayish Blue
Cut Antique cushion
Country of origin India
Mine of origin Kollur mine
Date discovered Unknown. Present form first documented in the inventory of jewel merchant Daniel Eliason in 1812.
Cut by Unknown. Recut from the French Blue diamond after 1791; slightly reshaped by Harry Winston between 1949 and 1958
Original owner Unknown. Acquired by Henry Philip Hope before 1839.
Current owner Smithsonian Natural History Museum
Estimated value $300–$350 million USD £150-£175 million GBP

The Hope Diamond is a large, 45.52 carats (9.10 g), fancy deep-blue diamond, housed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. The Hope Diamond is blue to the naked eye because of trace amounts of boron within its crystal structure, but it exhibits red phosphorescence under ultraviolet light It is classified as a Type IIb diamond, and is famous for supposedly being cursed.

Physical propertie

An examination in December 1988 by the Gemological Institute of America's Gem Trade Lab showed the diamond to weigh 45.52 carats (9.104 g) and described it as "fancy dark grayish-blue." A re-examination in 1996 slightly rephrased that description as "fancy deep grayish-blue. The stone exhibits an unusually intense and strongly-colored type of luminescence: after exposure to long-wave ultraviolet light, the diamond produces a brilliant red phosphorescence that persists for some time after the light source has been switched off. The clarity was determined to be VS1, with whitish graining present. The cut was described as being "cushion antique brilliant with a faceted girdle and extra facets on the pavilion." The dimensions in terms of length, width, and depth are 25.60mm × 21.78mm × 12.00mm (1in × 7/8in × 15/32in).


In popular literature, many superlatives have been used to describe the Hope Diamond as a "superfine deep blue", often comparing it to the color of a fine sapphire "blue of the most beautiful blue sapphire" As colored diamond expert Stephen Hofer points out, blue diamonds similar to the Hope can be shown by colorimetric measurements to be grayer (lower in saturation) than blue sapphires. In 1996 The Gemological Institute of America's Gem Trade Lab GIA-GTL examined the diamond and using their proprietary scale, graded it fancy deep grayish blue. Visually, the gray modifier is so dark indigo that it produces an "inky" effect appearing almost blackish-blue in incandescent light Current photographs of the Hope Diamond utilize high-intensity light sources that tend to maximize the brilliance of gemstones.


According to specious later accounts, the original form of the Hope Diamond was stolen from an eye of a sculpted idol of the Hindu goddess Sita, the wife of Rama, the Sixth Avatar of Vishnu. However, much like the "curse of Tutankhamun", this general type of "legend" was the invention of Western authors during the Victorian era, and the specific legends about the Hope Diamond's "cursed origin" were invented in the early 20th century to add mystique to the stone

The Tavernier Blue

The first known precursor to the Hope Diamond was the Tavernier Blue diamond, a crudely cut triangular shaped stone of 115 carats 22.44 g named for the French merchant-traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier who brought it to Europe. His book, the Six Voyages Le Six Voyages de, contains sketches of several large diamonds he sold to Louis XIV in 1669; while the blue diamond is shown among these, Tavernier makes no direct statements about when and where he obtained the stone. The historian Richard Kurin builds a plausible case for 1653 as the year of acquisition, and an origin from the Kollur mine in Guntur district Andhra Pradesh (then a part of the Golconda kingdom), India. But the most that can be said with certainty is that Tavernier obtained the blue diamond during one of his five voyages to India between the years 1640 and 1667.

Early in the year 1669, Tavernier sold this blue diamond along with approximately one thousand other diamonds to King Louis XIV of France for 220,000 livres, the equivalent of 147 kilograms of pure gold.[13] There has been some controversy regarding the actual weight of the stone; Morel believes that the 112 3/16 carats stated in Tavernier's invoice would be in old French carats, thus 115.28 metric carats.

The French Blue

In 1678, Louis XIV commissioned the court jeweller, Sieur Pitau, to recut the Tavernier Blue, resulting in a 67 1/8 carat 13.4 g stone which royal inventories thereafter listed as the Blue Diamond of the Crown diamant bleu de la Couronne de France , but later English-speaking historians have simply called it the French Blue. It was set in gold and suspended on a neck ribbon for the King to wear on ceremonial occasions.

In 1749, King Louis XV had the French Blue set into a more elaborate jewelled pendant for the Order of the Golden Fleece, but this fell into disuse after his death. Marie Antoinette is commonly cited as a victim of the diamond's "curse", but she never wore the Golden Fleece pendant, which was reserved for the use of the king. During the reign of her husband, King Louis XVI, she used many of the French Crown Jewels for her own personal adornment by having the individual gems placed into new settings and combinations, but the French Blue remained in this pendant except for a brief exception in 1787, when the stone was removed for scientific study by Mathurin Jacques Brisson and returned to its setting soon after.

In September 1792, while Louis XVI and his family were confined in the Palais des Tuileries during the early stages of the French Revolution, a group of thieves broke into the Garde-Meuble Royal Storehouse and stole most of the Crown Jewels. While many jewels were later recovered, including other pieces of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the French Blue was not among them and it disappeared from history.


The Hope Diamond was long believed to have been cut from the French Blue, but this remained unconfirmed until a three-dimensional lead model of the latter was recently rediscovered in the archives of the French Natural History Museum in Paris. Previously, the dimensions of the French Blue had been known only from two drawings made in 1749 and 1789; although the model slightly differed from the drawings in some details, these details were identical to features of the Hope Diamond, allowing CAD technology to digitally reconstruct the French Blue around the recut stone.

Historians Germain Bapst and Bernard Morel suggested that one robber, Cadet Guillot, took the French Blue, the Côte-de-Bretagne spinel, and several other jewels to Le Havre and then to London, where the French Blue was cut into two pieces. Morel adds that in 1796, Guillot attempted to resell the Côte-de-Bretagne in France but was forced to relinquish it to a fellow thief, Lancry de la Loyelle, who put Guillot into debtors' prison.

Conversely, the historian Richard Kurin speculates that the "theft" of the French Crown Jewels was in fact engineered by the revolutionary leader George Danton as part of a plan to bribe the opposing military commander, Duke Karl Wilhelm of Brunswick. When under attack by Napoleon in 1805, Karl Wilhelm may have had the French Blue recut to disguise its identity; in this form, the stone could have come to England in 1806, when his family fled there to join his daughter Caroline of Brunswick. Although Caroline was the wife of the Prince Regent George, she lived apart from her husband, and financial straits sometimes forced her to quietly sell her own jewels to support her household.

Caroline's nephew, Duke Karl Friedrich, was later known to possess a 13.75 carats 2.75g blue diamond which was widely thought to be another piece of the French Blue. However, this smaller diamond's present whereabouts are unknown, and the recent CAD reconstruction of the French Blue fits too tightly around the Hope Diamond to allow for the existence of such a sister stone.

George IV

A blue diamond with the same shape, size, and color as the Hope Diamond was recorded in the possession of the London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason in September 1812, the earliest point when the history of the Hope Diamond can be definitively fixed. It is often pointed out that this date was almost exactly 20 years after the theft of the French Blue, just as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.

Eliason's diamond may have been acquired by King George IV of the United Kingdom, There is no record of the ownership in the Royal Archives at Windsor, but some secondary evidence exists in the form of contemporary writings and artwork, and George IV tended to commingle the state property of the Royal Jewels with family heirlooms and his own personal property. After his death in 1830, some of this mixed collection was stolen by his mistress, Lady Conyngham, and some of his remaining personal items were discreetly liquidated to cover the many debts he had left behind him. In either case, the blue diamond was not retained by the British royal family.

The Hope Family

In 1839, the Hope Diamond appeared in a published catalog of the gem collection of Henry Philip Hope. The stone was set in a medallion surrounded by many smaller white diamonds, which he sometimes lent to Louisa Beresford, the widow of his brother Thomas Hope, for society balls. Henry Philip Hope died in 1839, the same year as the publication of his collection catalog. His three nephews, the sons of his brother Thomas, fought in court for ten years over his inheritance, and ultimately the collection was split up.

The oldest nephew, Henry Thomas Hope, received eight of the most valuable gems including the Hope Diamond. It was put on display in the Great Exhibition of London in 1851 and Paris Exhibition Universelle in 1855, but was usually kept in a bank vault. In 1861, his only child, Henrietta, married Henry Pelham-Clinton, Earl of Lincoln. When Henry Thomas died on December 4, 1862, his wife Anne Adele inherited the gem, but feared that the profligate lifestyle of her son-in-law (now the 6th Duke of Newcastle) might cause him to sell the Hope properties.

Upon Adele's death in 1884, the entire Hope estate, including the Hope diamond, was entailed to Henrietta's younger son, Henry Francis, on the condition that he change his surname when he reached legal majority. As Lord Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton Hope, this grandson received his legacy in 1887. However, Francis had only a life interest to his inheritance, meaning he could not sell any part of it without court permission.

On November 27, 1894, Lord Francis married his mistress, American actress May Yohe. She later claimed she had worn the diamond at social gatherings (and had an exact replica made for her performances), but he claimed otherwise. Lord Francis lived beyond his means, and it eventually caught up with him. In 1896, his bankruptcy was discharged, but, as he could not sell the Hope Diamond until he had the court's permission, his wife supported them. In 1901, he was free to sell the Hope Diamond, but May ran off with Putnam Strong, son of former New York City mayor William L. Strong. Francis divorced her in 1902.

Lord Francis sold the diamond for £29,000 to Adolph Weil, a London jewel merchant. Weil later sold the stone to U.S. diamond dealer Simon Frankel, who took it to New York. There, it was evaluated to be worth $141,032 (equal to £28,206 at the time). In 1908, Frankel sold the diamond for $400,000 to a Salomon or Selim Habib, reportedly in behalf of Sultan Abdul Hamid of Turkey; however, on June 24, 1909, the stone was included in an auction of Habib's assets to settle his own debts, and the auction catalog explicitly stated that the Hope Diamond was one of only two gems in the collection which had never been owned by the Sultan. The Parisian jewel merchant Simon Rosenau bought the Hope Diamond for 400,000 francs and resold it in 1910 to Pierre Cartier for 550,000 francs.

Cartier, McLean, and Winston

Pierre Cartier first offered the Hope Diamond to U.S. socialite Evalyn Walsh McLean in 1910. She initially rejected the stone in the Hope family's old setting, but she found the stone much more appealing when Cartier reset it in a more modern style and told elaborate stories about its supposed "cursed" origins. Eventually, McLean bought the new necklace and afterwards wore it at every social occasion she organized. When she died in 1947, she willed the diamond to her grandchildren, though her property would be in the hands of trustees until the eldest had reached 25 years of age, which would have meant at least 20 years in the future. However, the trustees gained permission to sell her jewels to settle her debts, and in 1949 sold them to New York diamond merchant Harry Winston.

Over the next decade, Winston exhibited McLean's necklace in his "Court of Jewels," a tour of jewels around the United States, as well as various charity balls and the August 1958 Canadian National Exhibition. At some point, he also had the Hope Diamond's bottom facet slightly recut to increase its brilliance. He donated it to the Smithsonian Institution on November 10, 1958, sending it through U.S. Mail in a plain brown paper bag. Winston never believed in any of the tales about the curse and died of a heart attack at the age of 82 on December 28, 1978.

The Smithsonian Institution

For its first four decades in the National Museum of Natural History, the Hope Diamond lay in its necklace inside a glass-fronted safe as part of the gems and jewelry gallery, except for a few brief excursions: a 1962 exhibition in the Louvre; the 1965 Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg, South Africa; and two visits back to Harry Winston's premises in New York City for a 50th anniversary celebration in 1988 and some minor cleaning and restoration in 1996.

When the Smithsonian's gallery was renovated in 1997, the necklace was moved onto a rotating pedestal inside a cylinder made of 3-inch (76 mm) thick bulletproof glass in its own display room, adjacent to the main exhibit of the National Gem Collection in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. The Hope Diamond is the most popular jewel on display.

On February 9, 2005, the Smithsonian Institution published the findings of its year-long computer-aided geometry research on the gem and officially acknowledged the Hope Diamond is part of the stolen French Blue crown jewel.

MNHN in Paris

On November 2008, the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle published a bilingual French/English press release [18] about the discovery of a unique and previously unknown lead cast of the French Blue diamond in the MNHN gemmological collections in Paris, and the resulting investigation by an international group of researchers. Compared to the previously available drawings, the model showed numerous unsuspected facets and corrected the actual thickness of the stone, leading to CAD analysis and the creation of the first numeric reconstruction of the French Blue

The emblem of the Golden Fleece of Louis XV was numerically reconstructed around the French Blue, including the "Côte de Bretagne" spinel of 107 carats 21g, the "Bazu" diamond of 32.62 carats (6.52 g), 3 oriental topazes (yellow sapphires), five 4-5 carats (1,000 mg) brillants and nearly 300 smaller diamonds. Special care was taken to reconstruct the major gemstones from CAD analysis and knowledge of historical gemsetting techniques.

As part of the investigation, the "Tavernier Blue" diamond was also reconstructed from the original French edition of Tavernier's Voyages (rather than the later London edition that somewhat distorted and modified Tavernier's original figures), and the Smithsonian Institution provided ray-tracing and optical spectroscopic data about the Hope diamond.

The lead cast of the French Blue along with a lead model of the Mirror Of Portugal diamond had been given to the museum in 1850 by Charles Archard, a prominent jeweler in Paris at that time. The model was accompanied by a label stating that the stone was in the possession of "Mr. Hoppe of London".

The MNHN in Paris commissioned the first exact cubic zirconia replicas of Tavernier and French Blue diamonds from lapidary Scott Sucher. These replicas have been completed and are currently on view together with the French Crown jewels and the Great Sapphire of Louis XIV, a fantastic Moghol-cut sapphire of 135.7 carats (27.1 g).

The Curse

An early account of the Hope Diamond's "cursed origins" was a fanciful and anonymously written newspaper article in The Times on June 25, 1909. However, an article entitled "Hope Diamond Has Brought Trouble To All Who Have Owned It" had appeared in the Washington Post on January 19, 1908.

A few months later, this was compounded by the New York Times on November 17, 1909, which wrongly reported that the diamond's former owner, Selim Habib, had drowned in a shipwreck near Singapore; in fact, it was a different person with the same name, not the owner of the diamond. The jeweller Pierre Cartier further embroidered the lurid tales to intrigue Evalyn Walsh McLean into buying the Hope Diamond in 1911.

According to these stories, Tavernier stole the diamond from a Hindu temple where it had been set as one of two matching eyes of an idol, and the temple priests then laid a curse on whoever might possess the missing stone. One reason that this is not accepted is the other blue diamond "eye" has never surfaced. Furthermore, the legend claimed that Tavernier died of fever soon after and that his body was torn apart by wolves, but the historical record shows that he actually lived to the age of 84.

The Hope Diamond was also blamed for the unhappy fates of other historical figures vaguely linked to its ownership, such as the falls of Madame Athenais de Montespan and French finance minister Nicolas Fouquet during the reign of Louis XIV of France; the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and the rape and mutilation of the Princesse de Lamballe during the French Revolution; and the forced abdication of Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid who had supposedly killed various members of his court for the stone.

Even the jewelers who may have handled the Hope Diamond were not spared from its reputed malice: the insanity and suicide of Jacques Colot, who supposedly bought it from Eliason; the financial ruin of the jeweler Simon Frankel, who bought it from the Hope family. But although he is documented as a French diamond dealer of the correct era, Colot has no recorded connection with the stone, and Frankel's misfortunes were in the midst of economic straits that also ruined many of his peers.

The legend further includes the deaths of numerous other characters who had been previously unknown: diamond cutter Wilhelm Fals, killed by his son Hendrik, who stole it and later committed suicide; Francois Beaulieu, who received the stone from Hendrik but starved to death after selling it to Daniel Eliason; a Russian prince named Kanitowski, who lent it to French actress Lorens Ladue and promptly shot her dead on the stage, and was himself stabbed to death by revolutionaries; Simon Montharides, hurled over a precipice with his family. However, the existence of only a few of these characters has been verified historically, leading researchers to conclude that most of these persons are fictitious.

The actress May Yohe made many attempts to capitalize on her identity as the former wife of the last Hope to own the diamond, and sometimes blamed the Hope for her misfortunes. In July 1902, months after Lord Francis divorced her, she told police in Australia that her lover, Putnam Strong, had abandoned her and taken her jewels. Incredibly, the couple reconciled, married later that year, but divorced in 1910. On her third marriage by 1920, she persuaded film producer George Kleine to back a 15-episode serial The Hope Diamond Mystery, which added fictitious characters to the tale. It was not successful. In 1921, she hired Henry Leyford Gates to help her write The Mystery of the Hope Diamond, in which she starred as Lady Francis Hope. The film added more characters, including a fictionalized Tavernier, and added Marat among the diamond's "victims". She also wore her copy of the Hope, trying to generate more publicity to further her career.

Lord Francis Hope married Olive Muriel Thompson in 1904. They had three children before she died suddenly in 1912, a tragedy that has been attributed to The Curse.

Evalyn Walsh McLean added her own narrative to the story behind the blue jewel, including that one of the owners was Catherine the Great. McLean would bring the Diamond out for friends to try on, including Warren G. Harding and Florence Harding. McLean often strapped the Hope to her pet dog's collar while in residence at Friendship. There are also stories that she would frequently misplace it at parties, and then make a children game out of finding the Hope.

However, since the diamond was put in the care of the Smithsonian Institution, there have been no unusual incidents related to it.

Heart of Eternity Diamond

History of the Heart of Eternity Diamond

set in an elaborate bracelet

On may 28th, 1971, a sad but inevitable event in mining history occured: operations finally stopped at the Jagersfontein Mine. Not long before, the mine had celebrated its centenary, the first diamond having been picked up in the Jagersfontein valley in the Orange Free State in August of 1870. Although Jagersfontein was the first South Africa 'pipe' or 'dry diggings' to have been established, its fame was always overshadowed by the mines in the Kimberly district, about 130 km northwest. Yet the output of the mine was great enough to inspire the term "Jagers" to denote a diamond with a beautiful faint bluish tint. In addition Jagersfontein was the source of two of the largest and finest diamonds ever found.

The earlier of these discoveries caused the most dramatic moment in the mine's history. On the evening of June 30th, 1893, an African picked up an immense diamond in a shovel of gravel which he was loading into a truck; he hid it from his overseer and delivered it directly to the hands of the Mine Manager. As a reward he received £500 plus a horse equipped with a saddle and bridle.

The diamond weighed 971 old carats, equivalent to 995.2 metric carats. It possessed the forementioned blue-white color charateristic of the finest Jagersfontein diamonds, especially cleavages, and was of very fine quality, although there were a number of internal black spots, another Jagersfontein characteristic. The shape of the stone was out of the ordinary: flat on one side and rose to a peak on the other, somewhat like a loaf of rye bread. Apparently this is what inspired the diamond to be named 'Excelsior', meaning higher.

The Excelsior may justly lay claim to be the 'Great Unknown' of famous diamonds. As will be explained further along, there is no single Excelsior fragment of exceptional size which would have helped to keep its name in the public eye, thus helping keep track of the fragments. In addition, except for having stimulated some interest among local diggers, the finding of such a large stone seems to have made singularly little impact. No account of the discovery appeared in the more authoritative and prestigious British newspapers which often reported lesser discoveries at the time. Maybe if the diamond had been originally been given a less unglamorous name its fame might have spread further outside of South Africa. Yet consider the facts ... before the discovery of the Excelsior the only rival to the stone was the legendary Great Mogul, of Indian origin, generally thought to have weighed 787½ old carats in the rough. The so-called Braganza Diamond, which was found in Brazil in the 1700s and according to some sources weighed 1680 carats, was considered to have been a white sapphire, topaz or light aquamarine, very unlikely a diamond. So the the Excelsior still ranks as the second largest rough diamond of gem quality ever found, only the Cullinan being larger.

After various highs and lows the Jagersfontein Mine eventually became the sole property of the New Jagersfontein Mining & Exploration Company Limited, formed in April of 1887. It so happened that on the very day the Excelsior was found the contract between the mining company and the consortium of London firms which purchased the mine's output expired. If the diamond had been found a few hours earlier it would have made a substantial difference in profit to the parties concerned. However, the Excelsior was shipped to the London offices, located at 29 and 30 Holborn Viaduct, of Messieurs Wernher, Beit & Co., the largest of the ten firms that comprised of the London consortium. Wernher, Beit & Co. sought to insure the diamond for £40,000 but could only get insurance to the extent of £16,250.

In the Directors' Report for the year ended March 31st, 1894, the Chairman of the New Jagersfontein Mining & Exploration Company stated:

"In addition to the foregoing the Company still retains an undivided one-half share in the 'Excelsior' diamond weighing 971 carats, found on 30 June, 1893, which (although it is impossible at the present moment to place any exact value upon, and therefore has not been stocked at all) will ultimately prove a very valuable asset in the Company."

The diamond remained in London where it was joined in 1895 by the second of the two large diamonds to have originated in the Jagersfontein. This weighed 634 carats, equivalent to 650.8 metric carats, and was first named the "Reitz" after F.W. Reitz, then president of the Orange Free State. It was renamed the 'Jubilee' when it was cut in 1897, the year of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee; the 75th anniversary of her coronation. Accordingly the Chairman of the Mining Company, at the Annual General Meeting held in Kimberly on May 28th, 1896 stated:

"Since the last meeting a large and very fine diamond of 634 carats, named the Reitz Diamond, has been found, and although neither the 'Excelsior' nor this recent acquisition has yet been disposed of, your Directors have deemed it advisable, in the interests of the present shareholders, to stock the Company's one half interest in both diamonds, but the actual figure, as will be obvious to all, it is most injudicious to state publicly."

The Heart of Eternity and the Excelsior

The very next day after this meeting, the minutes of a Company Board meeting recorded the receipt of the following letter to the Secretary, New Jagersfontein Mining & Exploration Co. Limited, Kimberly:

"Dear Sir, I beg to inform you that the Messrs Wernher, Beit & Co., Barnato Bros & Mosenthal Sons & Co. have accepted your offer to buy your company's half interest in the two stones called the 'Excelsior' and 'Reitz' Diamonds weighing 971 and 634 carats respectively for the sum of £25,000 (twenty-five thousand pounds) cash.

"It is specially agreed upon that the price paid above is not to be disclosed outside the Diamond committee or your Board of Directors.

"I should thank you to confirm the terms of this letter and on receipt of your reply pay your company the stipulated £25,000 on behalf of the above-named firms.

I am, Dear Sir, Yours faithfully, Herrman Hirche."

The minutes continue: "Resolved that the above sale be accepted and the Secretary was instructed to confirm the same."

Thus was concluded what can only be described as one of the most profitable transactions - from the purchaser's point of view - ever to have been made in the diamond trade. As a result of the sale the Jubilee crystal was cut the following year into two gems. The larger of the two was a rectangular cushion shape weighing 245.35 carats, which would rank as the sixth largest polished diamond in the world. But no buyer appeared on the scene for the Excelsior crystal and eventually in 1903, it was sent to I.J. Asscher of Amsterdam. This famous company, destined to cut the Cullinan diamond crystal, had been founded by Mr. J.J. Asscher (1843-1902).

Yet another misfortune dogged the Excelsior, since it was destined not to become one of those diamonds which yields a single magnificent gem, instead it was cut into a number of smaller ones. There were suggestions that no prospective buyer could be found due to the diamond's extraordinary size. In his book, Some Dreams Come True, by Alpheus F. Williams, who succeeded his father as General Manager of De Beers, entertained no doubts about the subject, considering the decision to cleave the diamond into several smaller fragments as the greatest tragedy of modern times in the history of famous diamonds. he wrote:

"It was unpardonable that this exquisite diamond was so cleaved that the largest stone cut from it weighed only 70 metric carats. The intrinsic value meant more to its owners than its historical importance, so different from the spirit of the owners of the Cullinan diamond who, in deciding to have the diamond cleaved into nine pieces, insisted that one of the pieces so cleaved should be, when cut, the largest diamond in the world."

On the other hand two points should be kept in mind when considering this extract from Mr. Williams' book. First, it will be recalled that the owners of the Excelsior had also been the owners of the Jubilee; no accusation, therefore could be levelled at them of necessarily wanting to place value before historical importance so as the Jubilee had been fashioned to yield one truly exceptional gem. Secondly, a comparison between the Cullinan and Excelsior diamonds is meaningless -- the Cullinan had only one large imperfection in the heart, the Excelsior possessed numerous dark inclusions. Dutch cutters, the world's best, decided this meant considerable loss of weight.

After prolonged study it was decided to first cleave the diamond into ten pieces resulting in the three largest pieces weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. The polishing yielded 21 gems, ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. They totalled 373.75 carats which represented a loss in weight of almost 63 percent. The final result, however, was considered to have been better than anyone had expected. The specifications of the larger gems cut from the Excelsior are as follows:

(metric carats)
Excelsior I ... 69.68 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior II ... 47.03 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior III ... 46.90 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior IV ... 40.23 carats ... marquise
Excelsior V ... 34.91 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior VI ... 28.61 carats ... marquise
Excelsior VII ... 26.30 carats ... marquise
Excelsior VIII ... 24.31 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior IX ... 16.78 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior X ... 13.86 carats ... pear shape
Excelsior XI ... 9.82 carats ... pear shape

In January of 1984 Graff Diamonds Limited of London announced the acquisition and subsequent sale of five exceptional diamonds among a series of transactions to clients. The most historic stone was the Excelsior I which according to Laurence Graff, had remained in the posession of the same family in the United States until his firm's purchase of it. The gem reappeared for sale in May of 1991. The GIA certified it as 'G' color and VS2 clarity. In May of 1996 reappeared yet again for sale and was bought by Robert Mouawad for $2,642,000.

History of Chrysanthemum

In the summer of 1963, a 198.28-carat fancy brown diamond was found in the South African diamond fields. This unusual stone was purchased by Julius Cohen, New York City manufacturing jeweler, under whose direction it was fashioned by the firm of S & M Kaufman into a Fancy Orange-Brown 104.16-carat pear shape. The stone has a total of 189 facets (67 on the crown, 65 vertical facetrs along the girdle, and 57 on the pavilion) and measures 24.98 mm wide, 39.10 mm long, and 16.00 mm deep. It has a depth of 64.1% and a table of 44%. It was mounted as the central stone in a yellow gold necklace of 410 oval and marquise-shaped diamonds.

In the rought state, the diamond appeared to be a light honey color; after cutting, however, it proved to be a rich golden brown, with overtones of sienna and burnt orange, the warm colors of the brown chrysanthemum after which the stone was named.

The Great Chrysanthemum

The Great Chrysanthemum has been exhibited by several retail jewelers in the United States and was shown as a Diamonds International Awards winner in 1965. In the same year, it was displayed at the Rand Easter Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. Julius Cohen later sold to it an unknown foreign buyer. The diamond is currently owned by Garrard's of London. Sources: Diamonds - Famous, Notable and Unique by Lawrence Copeland (GIA), private sources.

A replica of the Great Chrysanthemum Diamond cut from cubic zirconium.

Florentine Diamond

History/Detail of the Florentine Diamond

This cubic zirconium replica was designed and cut by Scott Sucher. Sucher said he had to use mathematics to figure out the angles and measurements of the sides of the stone

Jean Baptiste Tavernier's book first published 1676 in French, and translated
into English by Valentine Ball in 1925. The book shows the Florentine
as being a 9-sided double rose cut stone with a shield shape.

Once the great yellow diamond of the Medici Family, this historic Indian stone is actually light yellow in color with a very slight green overtone and is fashioned in the form of an irregular, nine-sided, one 126-facet double rose cut. It weighed 137.27 carats.

Legends surrounding the stone date as far back as 1467, when Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, is said to have been wearing it when he fell in battle. A peasant or foot soldier found it on the Duke's person and sold it for a florin, thinking it was glass, after which it changed hands innumerable times for small sums of money. Pope Julius II is named as one of the owners.

Authentic history begins when Tavernier, the famous French jeweler and traveler, saw the stone amoung the treasures of the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1657. When the last of the Medici's died, it passed to Vienna through the marriage of Francis Stephan of Lorraine (who later became the Grand Duke of Tuscany) to Empress Maria Theresa and was placed in the Hapsburg Crown Jewels in the Hofburg, Vienna; at the time, it was valued at $750,000.

Florentine's last known setting - a hat ornament.
This photo was probably taken between 1870 and 1880.

After the fall of the Austrian Empire, during World War I, the Florentine was taken by the Imperial Family into exile in Switzerland. Later, it was thought to have been stolen by a person close to the Family and taken to South America with other gems of the Crown Jewels. After this, it was rumored that the great diamond was brought into the United States in the 1920's and was recut and sold. As a matter of record, it must be listed with other "lost" renowned diamonds of the world. Officials at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where the Florentine was on display prior to 1918 in a hat ornament, state to the Gemological Insitute of America in 1964 that they no knowledge of the stone's present location.

Alternate Names

The Tuscan, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Austrian Diamond, and the Austrian Yellow Brilliant.

A drawing of the Florentine from Max Bauer's 1904 book Precious Stones. The left and right are Bauer's front and side views of the stone, the center is the side view corrected to match Bauer's front view - note the extra facets. This style of briolette is called a double-rose, due to the fact the stone has a girdle. Briolettes, like the Briolette of India, are round when viewed from the end and usually have a very small hole drilled at their point, allowing them to be worn as a sort of large pendant-bead. To me, this design seems like it is one of the most accurate, with the actual diamond being slightly less oblong (less like a pear shape and more like a shield), as visible in the b&w photograph. You'll also note there more facets towards the center of the stone, whereas Tavernier's drawing leaves them out. The b&w photo shows a thin triangular facet, at a 4 O'Clock angle from the center of the stone. It appears grayish with the facets around it being illuminated. I believe this is one of the extra facets Tavernier's drawing left out, of which there are nine. At the 1:30 angle from the center, the extra facet is again visible but as a light gray with the facets around it dimmed.

In Herbert Tillander's book Diamond Cuts in Historic Jewelry - 1381 to 1910, there are a number of drawings of the Florentine from over the past few centuries. The Tavernier drawing is shown, the Bauer drawing as well as the 189-facet Cletscher drawing, and several others. Directly above is Tillander's drawing for the correct outline and faceting of the stone, which I agree with. It has 144 facets total -- 81 on the crown and 63 on the pavilion. The top drawing is the back of the diamond, the middle is the front, and the lower is a symmetrized version. The high center of the front of the gem is trihedrally faceted, whereas the same area on the reverse has only nine basic facets. As it turns out, Tavernier's drawing was the reverse of the stone! The stone is somewhat 'slanted'. This seems reasonable, considering the gem was cut around 1615. It is unlikely it would have been as symmetrical as diamonds cut later, like the Regent or the Tiffany Yellow.

Image from Jean Baptiste Tavernier's book "The Six Voyages of
Jean Baptiste Tavernier"

Once the great yellow diamond of the Medici Family, this historic Indian stone is actually light yellow in color with a very slight green overtone and is fashioned in the form of an irregular, nine-sided, one 126-facet double rose cut. It weighed 137.27 carats.

Legends surrounding the stone date as far back as 1467, when Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, is said to have been wearing it when he fell in battle. A peasant or foot soldier found it on the Duke's person and sold it for a florin, thinking it was glass, after which it changed hands innumerable times for small sums of money. Pope Julius II is named as one of the owners.

The Florentine Diamond (faceted in 1615) has several names. It has been called the Tuscan, the Tuscany Diamond, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and even the Austrian Yellow Diamond - an unfortunate name, since it creates confusion with another lost diamond, the Austrian Yellow Brilliant.

The stone was drop-shaped with both the front and reverse more or less similarly faceted. The center of the front had trihedral faceting, but the matching area on the reverse simply had nine basic facets. Both front and reverse were stepped twice, producing nine rows, each containing nine facets in the front, and nine rows of seven facets on the reverse - 144 facets in all. The overall impression is a nine-rayed star.

Through the works of Speranza Cavenago Bignami, Guido Gregorietti and others, Herbert Tillander was able to trace the history of this stone. P. Aloisi stated in 1932 that the rough stone was 'acquired' in the late 1500s from the King of Vijayanagar (now Narsingha) in southern India by the Portuguese Governor of Goa, Ludovico Castro, Count of Montesanto, after the king's defeat by Portugese troops. The crystal was deposited with the Jesuits in Rome until, after lengthy negotiations, Grand Duke Ferdinand I of Tuscany succeeded in buying it from the Castro-Noranha family for 35,000 Portuguese scudi crocati.

Duke Ferdiand's son, Grand Duke Cosimo II (who ruled from 1609 to 1621), finally entrusted his father's purchase to a cutter, Pompeo Studentoli, a Venetian working in Florence. The finished gem was delivered on October 10th, 1615. An inventory drawn up on Cosimo's death confirms the acquisition of the rough diamond by Ferdinand and describes the gem as 'faceted on both sides and encircled by a diamond encrusted band'.

Dr. Heinz Biehn reproduced a sketch of a pendant containing the Florentine with a caption reading, "Il Gran Diamante del Serimo Gran Duca di Toschana, Pesa 138 Carati". Despite extensive investigation, the origin of this drawing remains obscure. The correct weight and the exact faceting indicate that it was probably drawn just after its fashioning in 1615. The outline differs slightly, most likely because the artist wished to show a perfect and therefore pleasing symmetry.

Thomas Cletscher, who must have seen the great gem in Florence, produced a clearly recognizable sketch of it in about 1625: neither the faceting nor the outline is absolutely correct, which indicates that it may have been done from memory. The faceting of the central trihedrally faceted section is fairly accurate, but the surrounding steps, which he depicts as being similarly fashioned, cannot be correct. Cletscher also gives the weights of the rough and the finished gem as being 170 carats and 120 carats, neither of which appear to be accurate.

A company called Gem Slueth set out to find out what happened to the diamond, and their initial theory was that it had been recut. But because of the Florentine’s unusual shape, anything other than a round cut would create a truly drastic loss of valuable diamond weight. Gem Slueth researched and found that there are only four light-yellow diamonds that weigh over 70 carats. Quickly three of these diamonds were eliminated as possibilities, due to one fact or another that places them somewhere else during the existence of the Florentine as a 137.27-carat stone. Only one, an 80-carat light yellow diamond that was auctioned in Switzerland in 1981, might possibly be the missing Florentine. Further research followed, including conversations with the woman who had sold the diamond in 1981. It had been, she reported, in her family since shortly after World War I (the Florentine was stolen in 1918). She remembered it being a very unusual shape prior to her father having the jewel recut. Lord Ian Balfour, Britain’s noted diamond historian and De Beers have supported Gem Sleuth’s theory on what became of the Florentine diamond. The theory has also appeared in numerous publications. The present whereabouts of the 80-carat

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 .

The Dresden Green

Brief History of The Dresden Green
The Dresden Green gets its name from the capitol of Saxony where it has been on display for more than 200 years. The earliest known reference to its existence occurs in The Post Boy, a London new-sheet of the 1700's. The issue dated October 25th - 27th, 1722 included this article:

An early reference to the Dresden Green "On Tuesday last, in the afternoon, one Mr. Marcus Moses (an important diamond merchant in London during the first part of the 18th century), lately arrived from India, had the honor to wait on his Majesty [King George I (ruled 1714-27)] with his large diamond, which is of a fine emerald green color, and was with his Majesty near an hour. His Majesty was very much pleased with the sight thereof. It is said there never was seen the like in Europe before, being free from any defect in the world; and he has shown his Majesty several other fine large diamonds, the like of which 'tis said were never brought from India before. He was also, the 25th, to wait on their Royal Highnesses with his large diamond; and they were surprised to see one of such largeness, and of such a fine emerald color without the help of a foil under it. We hear the gentlemen value's it at 10,000 pounds."

Another early reference to the Dresden Green is found in a letter dated from 1726, from Baron Gautier, the "assessor" at the Geheimes Rath's Collegium in Dresden, to the Polish ambassador in London, which speaks of the green diamond being offered to Frederick Augustus I (1694-1753) by a London merchant for 30,000 pounds.

The Gemmological Institute of America examined the stone in 1988. The Dresden Green Diamond was proved to be not only of extraordinary quality, but also a rare type IIa diamond. The clarity grade determined by GIA was VS1 and the gem has the potential of being internally flawless. The gem measures 29.75 x 19.88 x 10.29mm. The GIA graded the symmetry good and the polish very good. This is astonishing for a diamond cut prior to 1741. The Dresden Greed Diamond is displayed Albertinium Museum in Dresden.

Value/Price of Dresden Green

its relatively small weight of 41 carats is valued at £ 30,000, which is very high price for such a small diamond because of its unique character in form of its peculiar green tint. Dresden Green diamond is also being used to compare natural green diamonds against lab-produced green diamonds and there's also hope that with the help of this famous diamond test will be devised to differentiate naturally green diamonds of the ones synthetically produced in lab.

The Darya-ye Noor Diamond

History of The Darya_ye Noor Diamond
The world's largest uncut diamond - "Darya-ye Noor" in Persian means "The Sea of Light". This is the sister diamond to the world's largest cut diamond, the "Kooh-e Noor" which is its Persian name and means "The Mountain of Light". The Kooh-e Noor diamond which now sits in the London Tower, belonged once to Iran, hence its Persian name, but was looted by a certain Ahmed Beg upon the asassination of Nader Shah of Iran in 1747. Ahmed Beg took the Kooh-e Noor diamond along with other valuable jewels of the Iranian Crown Jewels and left Iran. The gem was later taken to England where the East India Company took possession of it. In 1850 it was presented to Queen Victoria. At present it is kept in the Tower of London

The Darya-ye Noor meaning "Sea of Light" in Persian, is one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing 182 carats (36.4 g). Its colour, pale pink, is one of the rarest to be found in diamonds. The Darya-ye Noor presently forms part of the Iranian crown jewels. It is considered one of the oldest known diamonds to man.

Darya-ye Noor Diamond is recognized as the possession of the first Mogul emperor of India and is ranked as the most eminent diamond among the Iranian Crown Jewels.

The history behind the Darya-ye Noor reveals a lot of facts. The extraction of this diamond was in India at the Golconda mine, which is in the southern India. The diamond was a precious possession of the Mughal knights. In 1739, the adventurer Nader Shah of Persia invaded India and sacked Delhi; the booty he garnered from the mughal treasury included the Darya-i-noor, in addition to the Kohinoor and the Peacock throne. All of these treasures were carried to Persia by Nader Shah and the Darya-i-noor has remained there ever since.

After Nader Shah's death, the Darya-ye Noor was inherited by his grandson, Shahrokh Mirza. It then passed into the possession of Alam Khan Khozeimeh, and later, of Lotf Ali Khan Zand, a member of Iran's Zand dynasty. Agha Mohammad Khan, founder of Qajar dynasty, defeated the Zands, and thus the Darya-e-noor came into the possession of the Qajars.

Fath Ali Shah Qajar had his name inscribed on one facet of the diamond. Later, Nasser-al-Din Shah Qajar often wore it on an armband. He apparently believed that this diamond had been one of the those adorning the crown of Cyrus the Great. When armbands fell from royal fashion, he wore the diamond as a brooch.

On occasion, the gem would be left in the care of high personages of the land, as a sign of honor. It was eventually kept hidden in the Golestan Palace treasury museum until Mozzafar-al-Din Shah Qajar's time -- this monarch wore it as a hat decoration while visiting Europe in 1902.

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