Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Star Diamond of South

History of the Star Diamond Of The South.

Lying west of the mountains of San do Espinoza is a vast plain. Here the river Velma has its source, and the New World's largest diamond its origin. It was picked up in July, 1853, by a Negress at work in the mines of the province of Mines-Geraes, Brazil.

Star Diamond of South Africa

The diamond, when found, presented the general form of a rhombic dodecahedron with very obtuse angles, and twenty-four natural facets, besides certain faint streaks, pointing at a possible octahedral cleavage. In one of the facets there appeared a somewhat deep depression, in which was formerly inserted an octahedral crystal, which from other symptoms, was evidently a true diamond. On the lower surface were two other indentations of a similar character, but not so deep, one of which revealed traces of from three to four different crystals. On the same side was a flat space, where it had probably been removed from the matrix by alluvial action. There were also perceptible a few black specks, due apparently to the presence of titanic iron or volcanic sand. All these circumstances showed plainly enough that it originally formed one of a group of adamant crystals, fixed in the crevices of certain metamorphic rocks, characteristic of the Brazilian mountain systems.

Such, at least, is the commonly accepted view. But it is unhesitatingly rejected by Bar bot, who has made a special study of this gem, and whose opinion is certainly entitled to consideration. "We are certain," he writes, "that this large hollow was merely a solution of continuity in the crystalline layers, and that the other depressions of a slighter character are due to the same cause. The flat part, which seems and really is cleaved by an accidental cause, formed the point of contact with the matrix." The late M. Dufrenoy supposed that this diamond must have formed part of a group of diamantiferous crystals. In this he was mistaken, for diamonds are produced isolated, in the various parts of the matrix, rarely agglomerated or superimposed, nor grafted one on the other, like the pyrites and crystals of spar and quartz.

Star Diamond PostStamp

This stone which, according to the usual method of valuation, ought to be worth nearly pound 44,000, was sold in the rough for pound 35,000 and reduced by cutting from 254 1/2 to 125 carats, at an expenditure of close upon pound 500. In the process it assumed an elegant oval form, in which the light is well refracted. It is of unusual length, 35 millimeters by 29 millimeters broad, and 19 in thickness. These measurements, as Bar bot remarks, might seem to imply a magnitude superior even to that of the "Regent." Yet this gem is really 13 carats lighter, a fact explained by the perfect harmony of proportions exhibited by the "Regent," and which are missing in the "Star of the South." Nevertheless, it is a pure stone and has, on the whole, been handled with great judgment, although the best possible advantage has not perhaps, been taken of its natural forms. The cutter was Orangery, of Mr. Cortes's establishment at Amsterdam, and in his hands the diamond lost rather more than half of its original weight. The reflected light is perfectly white, but, strange to say, it assumes by refraction a decided rose tint, very agreeable to the eye. This probably unique phenomenon is due, no doubt, to the peculiar prismatic form imparted to the crystal, perhaps unconsciously, by the cutter.

After its latent beauties were thus revealed to the world, this superb gem was purchased by Mess rs. Halphen, and a few other merchants in Paris, who had constituted themselves a syndicate for the purpose. By them it was named the "Estrella do Sud," or "Star of the South." Before reaching them, it had passed in its rough state through several hands, all of whom were more or less benefited by its possession. Thus, the Negress, by whom it was discovered in 1853, was rewarded, according to the usual practice in Brazil, with her freedom, and to this was afterward added the further boon of a pension for life, in recognition of the exceptional size and value of her "find." Yet her master, Casimiro de Tal, was at first so little conscious of its true value, that he was induced to part with it for the relatively nominal sum of pound 3,000. The purchaser deposited it in the Bank of Rio de Janeiro, receiving an advance of no less than pound 30,000 on its security alone.

The stone ultimately reached the above-mentioned Paris Syndicate, by whom it was shown in the Dutch department of the London Exhibition of 1862, and in that of Paris in 1867. On both occasions it attracted great attention, and its fame reached the remotest corners of the globe. It was soon afterwards forwarded to India, where a bid of pound 110,000 was made for it by a large house on behalf of a native rajah. After considerable negotiation, the parties being unable to agree on the terms, the transaction fell through, and the stone was returned to Messrs. Halphen, who acted throughout in the name of the Syndicate, and not on their own account as is usually supposed.

During the exhibition of the gem in India, glowing accounts of its rare size and beauty had reached the late ex-Gaikwar of Baroda, next to the eccentric Charles, Duke of Brunswick, the greatest diamond fancier of modern times. This prince gave a commission, which was ultimately entrusted to Mr. E. Dresden, of London and Paris, to buy the Star of the South for eight lachs of rupees, or pound 80,000, Mr. Dresden, thereupon, applied through Mr. Halphen, to the Syndicate, who, although they had already declined pound 110,000, after some poulterers were induced to accept the Gaikwar's offer. On this subject we were favored on June 14, 1881, with a communication from Mr. Dresden, the subjoined extract from which will be found peculiarly interesting:

"A few years after the death of the late Emperor Napoleon, his Empress sold through Smith, Fleming and Co., her famous collection of diamonds (amongst which were a pair of splendid drops), to that same ruler of Baroda, so that he now possesses a matchless quantity of diamonds, including the Star of the South, which I had the commission to buy, and for which I paid Halphen in Paris two million francs (pound 80,000), inclusive, of course, of the mountings, &c., which were very costly."

I Having tried a similar expedient to get rid of the British resident, Colonel Phayre, whose presence in Baroda acted as an inconvenient check on his sanguinary propensities, the Gaikwar was arraigned before a specially constituted tribunal, found guilty, and deposed from the throne of his ancestors by a mandate from the beneficent lady paramount of India.

The Star of the South

Star of The South Diamond

The 128.48-carat Star of the South is one of the world's most famous diamonds. Discovered in 1853, it became the first Brazilian diamond to receive international acclaim. The stone was graded as VS-2 in clarity and Fancy Light Pinkish-Brown in color. It was also determined to be a type IIa diamond.

It was the custom in the Bagagem Diamond Mines in Brazil for a slave worker who found a stone of mentionable size to be rewarded with his freedom which offered him the opportunity to work for a salary. In addition he might be given clothes, tools and in some cases a procession in his honor and during the ceremony might be crowned with flowers. All depending on the value of the stone found. This was done to encourage honesty amoung the workers. There were also several punishments established for those who were caught smuggling diamonds out.

In 1853 a slave woman while working in the mine discovered a 261.88-carat diamond. For this she was reward not only her freedom but in addition a life income. Yet apparently not aware of its true value, her master was induced to sell it for the modest sum of £3000, after which the purchaser disposed of it in Rio de Janeiro for $30,000.

The rough stone passed through many hands before it was sold to Costers of Amsterdam for $35,000 and cut to a 128.48-carat stone losing over half its original weight. The cutting cost was $2500. It was cut into a cushion-shaped stone with a faint pinkish-brown hue.

It was purchased by Halphen & Associates of Paris and was given the name the Star of the South. They displayed the stone at the London Exhibition in 1862, and in Paris in 1867 making it quite famous. At this time, the syndicate was offered £110,000 by an unknown Indian rajah, but the offer was declined. Later, for reasons not divulged, it was sold to Mulhar Rao, the Gaekwar of Baroda, for £80,000, or about $400,000.

in 1948, Sita Devi, the Maharani wearing a star diamond of south neckless

The Gaekwar gave the commission for this transaction to E.H. Dresden, who made the original purchase of the well-known English Dresden Diamond. In 1934, the potentate's son told Robert M. Shipley, the American gemologist, that both the Star of the South and the English Dresden were mounted in a necklace among his family's jewels.

Khande Roe, Gaekwar of Baroda, had this necklace made to display both the
Star of the South and the 78.5-carat English Dresden below it.

The Shah Diamond

Shah Diamond


Akber/Jehangir's Shah Diamssond/Neckless

The Akbar Shah diamond is a historic diamond of the early 17th century associated with the great Mogul Emperor Akbar the Great and his successors Jehangir Shah and Shah Jehan. The diamond gets its name from Emperor Akbar (1556-1605), whose name is inscribed on the diamond in Arabic. The English translation of this inscription reads as follows :- Shah Akbar, Shah of the world, 1028 A.H.


Akbar the great King of Sub continent

Characteristics of the diamond

"The Great Diamonds of the World," in which the diamond is said to have weighed 120 Arabic carats or 116 English carats. It is also said to have adorned one of the eyes of the peacock in the renowned peacock throne of Shah Jehan. Besides this nothing is said about the color, clarity or the shape/cut of the diamond. Being a diamond of Indian origin we may assume the color of the stone to be white or colorless, one of the commonest colors of most of the historic Indian diamonds, that originated in the diamond mines of the Southern India, including the famous Golconda diamonds.

Jahangir Shah Mogul Emperor

Jahangir Shah Mogul King

Earlier Details

In every respect a very remarkable stone the "Akbar Shah" entirely disappeared about the close of the seventeenth century, but it has again recently come to light. Thanks to information courteously communicated to us by Messrs George Blogg & Co. of London, we are enabled to trace its history back to the famous Mogul Emperor Akbar Shah, apparently its first owner. It remained in the Mogul's treasury till the time of Shah Jehan, by whom it was beautifully engraved in Arabic characters on both sides. After its long disappearance it suddenly came to light again a few years ago in Turkey, where it was known by the name of "Shepherd Stone." But the two inscriptions left no doubt as to its true origin. Mr. George Blogg who purchased it at Constantinople, in February 1866, was told at the time that according to the tradition, it formed one of the eyes of the Peacock Throne, destroyed by Nadir Shah. By him it was brought to London, where it was re-cut to a drop as the most advantageous form by the late Mr. L. M. Auerhaan. It was then sold by Messrs Blogg to the notorious Gaekwar of Baroda, in 1867 for 3 ½ lacs of rupees (£35,000), and now lies hidden away with the other treasures accumulated by that prince during his oppressive reign.

The stone weighed originally 120 Arabic or 116 English carats. But in the hands of the cutter it was reduced to about 71 or 72 carats, and during the process the two inscriptions were totally destroyed. Facsimile copies however were first taken and are here appended with the English Translations :-

1) Shah Akbar -Shah of the world - 1028 A. H.

2) To the Lord of the Two Worlds - 1039 A. H. - Shah Jahan

The date on No 1, 1028 A. H. corresponds to 1650 A. D. But Akbar who succeeded Humayun in 1556, died in 1605. Hence the Inscription could not have been engraved by Akbar himself. The date obviously indicates the year when Shah Jahaan caused it to be made, while the terms of the inscription record the fact that the stone had belonged to Akbar. The second inscription was evidently added eleven years later on, also by Shah Jehan, the then owner who reigned from 1627 to 1666, his reign thus covering both dates.

The year 1028 A. H. he says corresponds to 1650 A. D. which is not correct. It actually corresponds to 1619 A. D.

He says that Shah Jehan reigned from 1627 to 1666, which is also incorrect. Shah Jehan's period of rule is actually from 1627 to 1658.

The period of reign of the Mogul Emperors involved according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica are as follows :-

1) Akbar Shah or Emperor Akbar the Great :- 1556 -1605

2) Jahangir Shah or Emperor Jahangir :- 1605 - 1627

3) Emperor Shah Jahaan :- 1627 - 1658

Thus the year 1028 A. H. in the first inscription which is equivalent to 1619 A. D. actually corresponds with the period of rule of Jahangir Shah, 14 years after the death of Akbar the Great. Thus the first inscription must have been engraved under the instructions of Jahangir Shah, who perhaps would have been keen in perpetuating the memory of his great father.

The year 1039 A. H. in the second inscription is equivalent to 1630 A. D. This corresponds with the period of rule of Emperor Shah Jahaan, just three years after he ascended the throne. Shah Jahaan had a penchant for inscribing his name on diamonds, and his name appears on two other famous diamonds of the Mogul period, the Shah diamond, and the Taj Mahal diamond.

The next question is how the diamond belonging to the Mogul Emperors eventfully reached the west. If as stated in Edwin Streeter's account the Akbar Shah diamond formed one of the eyes of the renowned Peacock Throne of Shah Jahaan which was dismantled by Nadir Shah of Persia, then after Shah Jahan, the diamond must have descended down the line of the following Mogul Emperors, until it reached Muhammad Shah in 1719.

1) Emperor Aurangzeb - 1658 to 1707.

2) Bahadur Shah - 1707 to 1712.

3) Jahandar Shah - 1712 to 1713.

4) Farruk Siyar - 1713 to 1719.

5) Muhammad Shah - 1719 to 1748.

It was during the reign of Muhammad Shah in February 1739, that Nadir Shah, the ruler and conqueror of neighboring Persia, who was successful in creating a vast empire that stretched from the Indus river to the Caucasus mountains, invaded Northern India and captured Delhi and Agra after defeating the forces of Muhammad Shah. Nadir Shah's forces sacked Delhi and Agra, and eventually when his army left in May 1739, carried with them a booty estimated at 70 crores (700 million rupees), which helped him to exempt all Iranians from taxes for the next three years. His plunder included most of the crown jewels of the Mogul Emperors which consisted of the Koh-i-Noor, the Darya-i-Noor, Nur-ul-Ain, and the renowned Peacock Throne of Shah Jahaan.

Modern Details

After Nadir Shah's assassination in 1749. most of his treasures were stolen by his close associates and commanders. Some of them were lost forever, but some were recovered later by the founder of the Qajar dynasty Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar. The Peacock throne was also dismantled after Nadir Shah's death and the jewels in the throne were stolen. The Akbar Shah diamond which was mounted on the throne was also lost in the process.

Nadir Shah

Nadir Shah

The diamond that was stolen in the 1740s eventually appeared in Istanbul in Turkey in 1866, and was purchased by Mr. George Blogg of London, who got the stone re-cut into a drop-shaped diamond of 71 to 72 carats, which also unfortunately erased the two inscriptions on the diamond. The diamond was later sold to Mulhar Rao, the Gaekwar of Baroda, and had remained in the Gaekwar family until as recently as 1988, when Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad and his wife Shantadevi had declared the diamond together with the Star of the South diamond, and Empress Eugenie, as part of their valuables in the wealth tax returns for 1988.
Nader Shah's Diamond
Other Details

The Diamond Shah is 88,7 carat 3 cm long, yellow diamond, extremely clear. This diamond was found in Central India, probably in 1450.

It was rendered to the shah court in Ahmad nagar. In 1591, Shah Nizam ordered carving on one of the facts of the diamond: Burhan-Nizam-Shah Second. Year 1000.

In the same 1591, the ruler of the Northern India, the Great Mogul Akbar, occupied Ahmad nagar and seized the diamond. After Akbar grandson, Shah Jehan came to the throne of Great Moguls, he commanded to carve another inscription: "The son of Jehangir-Shah Jehan-Shah. Year 1051". By the modern calendar, it was 1641. The son of Jehan-shah Aureng-Zeb hung the diamond above his throne and encircled it with rubies and emeralds. Till 1738, the diamond Shah was kept in Delhi.

In 1738, Nadir Shah attacked India, seized the diamond, and took it to Persia. In 1824, the third inscription appeared on the third facet: "The ruler of the Kadgar-Fath ali-shah Sultan. Year 1242".

Shah's Diamond

In 1829, Russian diplomat and writer Alexandr Griboyedov was murdered in the capital of Persia, Tehran. The Russian government demanded severe punishment of those responsible. In fear, the court of Shah Fath Ali Shah sent the Shah's son Hosrov-Mirza to Saint Petersburg, where he gave the Shah diamond to the Russian Tsar as a present. Thus, the Shah diamond came to the Kremlin Diamond Fund, where it is exhibited as one of Seven Historical Gems.

The Sancy Diamond

The Sancy Diamond

Beautiful Sancy Diamond

The Sancy Diamond has one of the most interesting, colorful, confused and involved histories of all the famous diamonds in Europe. It is a pale yellow 55.23-carat shield-shaped stone, apparently of Indian origin, and is said to be one of the first large diamonds to be cut with symmetrical facets. The stone is also unusual because it has no pavilion - just a pair of crowns, one on the other.

In 1570, the stone was purchased in Constantinople by the French Ambassador to Turkey, Nicholas Harlai, the Seigneur the Sancy, who was an avid collector of gems and jewelry. This passion for personal adornment was more in evidence during the 1500's and 1600's in Europe than any other time and any other place, except in the East. He brought it to France, where Henry III, who was very sensitive about being bald, borrowed it to decorate a small cap he always wore to conceal his baldness. Sancy was a prominent figure in the French Court at the time. Henry was the vicious, vain, weak son of Catherine de Medici.

During the next reign, when Sancy was made Superintendent of Finance, Henry IV borrowed the gem as security for substantial loan to hire soldiers. A messenger was dispatched with the jewel but never reached his destination; thieves had followed him. Knowing that the man was loyal, Sancy made a search of him and his body was discovered, disinterred, and in the stomach of the servant the diamond was found!

Great Sancy Diamond

Sancy sold the diamond to James I, and in 1605 Inventory of Jewels in the Tower of London, the jewel in described in the unusual language of the period: "...and one fayre diamond, cut in fawcetts, bought of Sauncy."

It remained in England until 1669. Charles I, son of James I, was beheaded and his widow, Henrietta Maria, presented the jewel to Somerset, the Earl of Worcester, from whom it passed once again to the English Crown. James II later owned it, but he lost it in the disastrous battle of the Boyne and fled to France. Although Louis XIV was a pleasant and generous host to James, shabby, mournful, exiled kings bored him. James, in desperation, sold the stone to the greedy king, who was known for his love of diamonds. Louis gave him $25,000, which did much to impress James with the security value of gems in time of need.

According to another gem historian, the Sancy was sold under different circumstances. During the Civil War, Queen Henrietta Maria took it to the Continent and pledged it, together with other diamonds, to Duke of Epernon for 460,000 livers. In 1657, Cardinal Mazarin paid off the Duke and, with the Queen's consent, took possession of the gems and bequeathed them with other fine stones to Louis XIV.

In 1792, at the beginning of the French Revolution, the Sancy and other famous gems were stolen from the Gerda Meuble (Royal Treasury) in Paris. It reappeared in 1828 and was sold by a French merchant to Prince Anatole Demitasse of Russia; the prince, in turn, is recorded as selling it in 1865 for $100,000. Two years later, it was displayed by the French jeweler, G. Bapst, at the Paris Exposition, bearing a price tag of FR 1,000,000 (one million francs).

In 1906, the sancy was purchased by William Waldorf Astor as a wedding present when his son (later 2nd Viscount Astor) married Nancy Longhorn of Virginia. Lady Astor often wore the big shield-shaped gem in a tiara on state occasions. In 1962, it was one of the features of the Ten Centuries of French Jewelry exhibition at the Louvre Museum. After Lady As tor's death in 1964, the celebrated stone was inherited by her son, the 3rd Viscount Astor. The gem is set in a mounting that permits it to be affixed to the head ornament.

Lovely Sancy Diamond

The Maharajah of Natalie also claimed ownership of a 'Sancy Diamond.' Although this stone is similar in shape, it weighs 60.40 carats, or about ten percent more more than the Sancy of the Astor Family. The Sancy now resides in the Louvre Museum, Paris.

Michael Hing, a jeweler from Great Britain whom I've corresponded with a number of times, has handled the Sancy Diamond, and writes, "It is currently set in a sort of bezel, like a plain border of white gold around the girdle. No prongs, and a visible gap. It is on a pin. It's almost colorless, but there is a very faint pale greenish-yellow tint to it. The color is far less noticeable than the photo, you'd think it was colorless unless you knew what to look for. Mind you, I didn't examine it under ideal circumstances: a dark blue vault under the yellowish light of an almost worn-out penlight, with about fifteen French museum people trying to tell me not to touch the stone because only people with the rank of 'Head Curator' or above were allowed to handle it."

the Sancy, a pale yellow diamond of 55.23 carats (11.05 g), was once reputed to have belonged to the Great Moguls of antiquity, but is more likely of Indian origin owing to its cut which is unusual by Western standards.

The shield-shaped stone comprises two back-to-back crowns (the typical upper half of a stone) but lacks any semblance to a pavilion (the lower portion of a stone, below the girdle or midsection).

The Sancy's known history began circa 1570 in Constantinople when purchased by Nicholas Harlai, Seigneur the Sancy. He was popular in the French Court and was later French Ambassador to Turkey. Something of a gem connoisseur, the Sancy used his knowledge to prosperous advantage.

Henry III of France suffered from premature baldness and tried to conceal this fact by wearing a cap. As diamonds were becoming increasingly fashionable at the time, Henry arranged to borrow the Sancy's diamond to decorate his cap. Henry IV also borrowed the stone, for the more practical purpose of using it as security for financing an army. Legend has it that a messenger carrying the jewel never reached his destination, but the Sancy (by then Superintendent of Finance) was convinced that the man was loyal and had a search conducted until the site of his robbery and murder was found. When the body was disinterred and autopsied, the jewel was found in the faithful man's stomach.

the Sancy later sold the diamond to James I (successor of Queen Elizabeth) about 1605 when it is thought the Sancy acquired its name. It was described in the Tower of London's 1605 Inventory of Jewels as " fayre diamond, cut in fawcetts, bought of Sauncy."

The Sancy remained in England until 1669 when it was briefly possessed by the unfortunate Charles I (King of England, Scotland and Ireland) and then by his third son James II. Beleaguered after a devastating defeat, James took shelter under Louis XIV of France, a fickle host who tired of his exiled guest. Facing destitution, James had no choice but to sell the Sancy to Cardinal Mazarin for the reported sum of £25,000. The cardinal bequeathed the diamond to the king.

The Sancy's history is unknown from then until 1828 when purchased by Prince Demidoff for £80,000. It remained in the Demigod family collection until 1865 when sold to Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, an Indian prince, for £100,000. He sold it only a year later, creating another gap in its history. It reappeared in 1867, displayed at the Paris Exposition, carrying a price tag of one million francs; the gem then vanished again for forty years

The Regent Diamond

The Regent Diamond

Origin of name

The term "parure" that came into popular usage in France and later other European countries in the 17th century, refer to an entire wardrobe or suite of matching jewelry, which became a status symbol for the royalty, noble and wealthier classes. A parure meant for the royalty usually included a diadem, tiara, comb, bandeau, choker, necklace, earrings, brooch, stomacher, bracelets and rings. Parures are usually named according to the types of precious or semi-precious stones, used in the setting of its components. The Marie-Louise Parure under consideration is set mainly with emeralds and diamonds. Hence the name "Emerald and Diamond Parure." Like wise we can have combination's like "Sapphire and Diamond Parure", "Ruby and Diamond Parure," "Amethyst and Diamond Parure" etc. where two gemstones are almost equally co-dominant. Parure where only a single type of gemstone predominates is usually given the name of such gemstone, such as "diamond parure,"

Napoleon Bonaparte, the mighty emperor of France was reported to have lavished such expensive parures on his first wife Josephine and later his second wife Marie Louise. The emerald and diamond parure was a gift of Napoleon Bonaparte to Marie Louise on the occasion of their wedding, which was solemnized in the year 1810, and thus came to be known as the "Emerald and Diamond Parure of Marie Louise."

Components of the Emerald and Diamond Parure of Empress Marie-Louise

The following are the components of the exquisitely crafted and renowned Emerald and Diamond Parure of Empress Marie-Louise :-

1) Emerald and Diamond Diadem

2) Emerald and Diamond Necklace

3) A pair of Emerald and Diamond Earrings

4) Emerald and Diamond Comb

5) Emerald Belt Clasp

The completed parure was delivered to Empress Marie-Louise in March 1810.

Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem

The word "diadem" is derived from the Latin and Greek word "diadem" which is derived from "diadem" meaning "to bind around." It is synonymous with the word "crown." The word "tiara" which is of Persian origin means a decorative, jeweled or flowered head band or semicircle, usually worn by women in the front of their hair on formal occasions. Thus the difference between a diadem and a tiara is, that while a diadem is circular going round the head, a tiara is usually semi-circular going only partially round the head in the front.

The "Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem" had been variously referred to as a diadem and tiara by different websites. But, in keeping with the above definitions we would prefer to call it a diadem and not a tiara. as it is a circular ornamental headdress like a crown.

The diadem which is circular is broader in the front and slightly narrows down towards the rear. Symmetrical floral motifs have been used on the diadem, a style that was prevalent throughout the 19th century for jewelry crafting. Jewelry designs of this period reflected a naturalistic style, that used the "language of flowers" such as plant and floral motifs, which also conveyed a message of love or affection. A total of 22 large emeralds, 57 small emeralds, 1,002 brilliants and 66 rose-cut diamonds were used on the diadem. The largest emerald which is the centerpiece of the diadem weighed 12 carats, and was a square-shaped emerald surrounded by a single layer of large rose-cut white diamonds. The square emerald has been placed with one of its diagonals along the median vertical line of the front of the diadem. Thus opposite verticals of the square lie along the median vertical line. A second smaller oval-shaped emerald, also surrounded by rose-cut emeralds, is placed below the square-shaped emerald centerpiece, still along the median vertical line. Other large emeralds are placed at symmetrical positions on either side of the median line. The band that goes right round and forms the base of the diadem, is mounted with a single row of rose-cut emeralds. The entire diadem was set in silver and gold, and overall the diadem represented one of the most exquisitely crafted diadems of this design ever created, attaining a very high level of perfection and refinement in its execution, so characteristic of the highly developed jewel crafting industry in Paris during this period.

Thus it is tragic that such a priceless diadem with an inestimable artistic and historic value was allowed to be partially dismantled and its emeralds re-set in other jewelry settings, with an intention of gaining enhanced profits. However it gives a sense of relief that at least the original framework of the tiara had been preserved, the emeralds being replaced by turquoise, and lies today in the Janet Nirenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals of the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution.

Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond necklace

The design of the necklace is classical in nature conforming to the architectural style developed for the period by Charles Perrier and Pierre Fontanel. The necklace is composed of 32 emeralds, 264 rose-cut diamonds and 864 brilliant-cut diamonds. The necklace set in gold and silver consists of symmetrically arranged alternating square-shaped and cushion-shaped large emeralds, surrounded by a single layer of white rose-cut emeralds, separated by smaller round-shaped emeralds, surrounded by small round brilliant-cut diamonds. There are five square-shaped emeralds, and five cushion-shaped emeralds and twelve small round-shaped emeralds. Usually only a single round-shaped emerald has been placed between a square-shaped emerald and a cushion-shaped emerald, except at the rear of the necklace where two round-shaped emeralds have been placed symmetrically on either side.


From each of the large square-shaped and cushion-shaped emeralds arise a drop-shaped or cabriolet emerald, also surrounded by diamonds increasing in size from the pointed end towards the rounded end. Cabriolets were very popular in France in the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly during the period of Napoleon Bonaparte, who is said to have gifted a 275-carat diamond cabriolet necklace to his Empress Consort Marie Louise, to celebrate the birth of their son, the future King of Rome. This necklace is also part of the Smithsonian collection in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

The small round-shaped emerald between a large square-shaped emerald and a large cushion-shaped emerald is the base of a palette derived from Greek and Roman art. As there are twelve round-shaped emeralds in the necklace, there are a corresponding number of palettes. Each palette has five rays, like the five fingers of the palm. Each ray of a palette is made up of round brilliant-cut diamonds that increase in size from the base towards the tip; the largest round-brilliant being placed at the tip of each ray.

Overall the combined emerald and diamond necklace was a masterpiece of its kind ever created imparting an elegant look on its wearer especially if fair-skinned, like the Empress Marie Louise. This necklace of great historic and artistic value, and imperial provenance, was preserved in its pristine pure state, by the person who acquired it from the ancestors of Marie Louise. This indeed is a great relief to all lovers of historic artifacts and the owner of the historic piece needs the commendation of art lovers worldwide, for preserving an irreplaceable piece of the world heritage. Fortunately, the Louvre Museum in France, had taken the unprecedented step of acquiring the celebrated necklace together with a pair of earrings, also part of the original parure, for a whopping sum of 3.7 million euros, the highest ever sum of money paid by a museum for items of jewelry. It is heartening to note that at least now the Louvre Museum in France, had realized the folly of those who were instrumental in dispersing the crown jewels of France in 1887, and are leaving no stone unturned to restore the lost heritage of one of Europe's greatest nations.

Marie Louise Emerald and Diamond Earrings

Marie Louise Emerald and Diamond Earrings are based on a simple but elegant design, matching the design on the celebrated necklace. The central theme of this design is the drop-shaped emerald or cabriolet, suspended from a square-shaped emerald aligned with one of its diagonals lying vertically. The square-shaped emerald is surrounded by a row of small rounded brilliant-cut diamonds. The cabriolet hangs freely from the square-shaped emerald, but is surrounded by a loop of gold wire mounted with large rose-cut diamonds. A single round-shaped emerald is also incorporated in the loop right at its bottom.



Overall the design of the earrings matches perfectly with that of the necklace, particularly that part of the necklace with a combination of square and drop-shaped emeralds. The two earrings are composed of 6 emeralds, 20 rose-cut and 40 brilliant-cut diamonds.

The pair of emerald and diamond earrings was also part of the parure of the Empress Marie-Louise, that had miraculously escaped any tampering or alteration, like the celebrated Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond necklace, and was purchased by the Louvre Museum under the same deal by which they acquired the celebrated necklace.

Emerald and Diamond Comb

The Emerald and Diamond Comb was said to have been made up of 23 emeralds, 54 rose-cut diamonds and 226 brilliant-cut diamonds, but unfortunately no further information on the comb is available, not even an image of the comb. If such an image was available a description of its design could have been attempted.

5) Emerald and Diamond Belt Clasp

The Emerald and Diamond Belt Clasp was said to have been made of 5 emeralds and 107 brilliants, but no further information on the piece of jewelry is available.

History of the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Parure

Napoleon Bonaparte takes power as absolute dictator and later as Emperor of France

Napoleon Bonaparte, the mighty dictator of France who took power as First Consul in 1799, and later as Emperor of France in 1804, was a direct product of the French Revolution. It was the French Revolution that propelled him at an early age to the highest position in the State. The people had confidence in him for bringing many victories to France, and they expected him to bring back much-needed peace to the country, after the turmoil and uncertainty following the revolution, to end disorder, and to consolidate the political and social conquests of the revolution. But, what the people of France did not know was that Napoleon did not believe in the sovereignty of the people, in the popular will or in parliamentary debate. He had secretly nurtured in him an ambition to take the place of the deposed Bourbon Monarchs, and assume the title of the Emperor of France. Thus all his actions between 1799 and 1804, as the First Consulate was calculated towards achieving this objective. To give a semblance of legitimacy for his actions he got Pope Pius VII to come to Paris and consecrate him and crown him as the Emperor of France. Soon the court of Emperor Napoleon I surpassed the grandeur and pageantry of some of the former Bourbon Monarchs.

Napoleon's first marriage to Josephine

Josephine, the eldest daughter of Joseph Tascher de La Pagerie, married a rich young army officer Alexandre Vicente de Bearnaise in the year 1779 at the age of 16 years. Josephine was brought up in the rural atmosphere of the island of Martinique, where she lived for 15 years, before her marriage. Thus Alexander was ashamed of her rural manners and lack of sophistication, and refused to present her at the court of Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Yet, Josephine bore him two children, a daughter Hortense and a son Eugene. The indifferent attitude of Alexandre towards Josephine finally led to their separation in 1785. After the separation, she remained in Paris for several years and was determined to learn the ways of the elite high society and aristocrats. In the year 1794, at the height of the French Revolution her former husband Alexandre who was serving in the revolutionary army, fell out of favor with them and was guillotined to death.


Empress Josephine

Josephine who was now a sophisticated high society lady, caught the attention of an upcoming and ambitious army officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, who fell in love with her. After the appointment of Napoleon as the commander of the Italian expedition, Josephine agreed to marry him, and the marriage took place on March 9, 1796. Napoleon appears to have been passionately in love with Josephine, but on her part she was indifferent not reciprocating his love for her. She even went to the extent of flirting with another army officer when Napoleon was away during his Egyptian campaign during 1798-99, and on his return Napoleon threatened to divorce her. Her marriage was only saved by her children who pleaded on her behalf with their step-father. The rift was healed and Napoleon forgave her for her misdeeds. After Napoleon became the first consul in 1779, she worked closely with her husband to advance his political fortunes. The couple became very close to each other and when Napoleon assumed control as the Emperor of France she was able to persuade him to conduct a fresh marriage ceremony with full religious rites, which was held only a day before his coronation by the Pope in Notre-Dame on December 2, 1804. Besides this, Josephine was able to use her husbands power and position to find good spouses for her two children by her first marriage. Her daughter Hortense was given in marriage to Napoleon's brother, Louis Bonaparte, and her son Eugene, who was appointed as the viceroy of Italy by Napoleon, married the daughter of the King of Bavaria.

Josephine was now well established as the Empress of France, and held court with all the grandeur and splendor associated with her office. She was particularly noted for her extravagance and had a fabulous jewelry collection mostly lavished on her by her beloved husband Napoleon. But, strains were placed on their relationship as Josephine was without any issue from Napoleon, and was not able to give him a son, who would succeeded him as the future emperor of Rome. Thus Napoleon decided to separate from Josephine, with a view of taking a second wife, and had already planned to marry Marie-Louise, the daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria, after the separation. Napoleon was able to obtain a separation from Josephine in January 1810, without resorting to divorce, as his previous marriage of 1804 was declared null and void as a parish priest had not been present at the ceremony. After the divorce, Josephine left the palace to her private residence outside Paris, and was continued to be maintained by the Emperor.

Napoleon's second marriage to Marie-Louise

Marie-Louise who originated from the "House of Hapsburg" of Austria, was the eldest daughter of Emperor Francis I of Austria and Maria Theresa, and was a niece of Marie-Antoinette, the unfortunate queen of France who was guillotined at the time of the French revolution. She married Napoleon Bonaparte on April 1, 1810, after the annulment of his childless previous marriage to Empress Josephine. The result of this marriage was the long- awaited son and heir, the future King of Rome, who was born on March 20, 1811. The proud father Emperor Napoleon was overjoyed, and presented his Queen consort with a 275-carat diamond necklace set with briolette diamonds, to celebrate the occasion of the birth of his long-desired son. The necklace came to be known as the Marie-Louise diamond necklace.


Marie-Louise with her son, the future King of Rome

During Napoleon's absence from France pursuing his ceaseless military campaigns, Marie-Louise acted as his regent in Paris. Eventually, after Napoleon's defeat and abdication in 1814, she returned to Vienna with her son. She refused to join Napoleon in his exile in Elba, something that caused serious pain of mind for the ex-emperor. The "Treaty of Fountainhead" that exiled Napoleon to the island of Elba, also granted to Marie Louise the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla, which was ratified by the Congress of Vienna. Marie-Louis while ruling over her domains, fell in love with Adam Adalbert, Count von Neipperg, by whom she had two children. Finally after the death of Napoleon Bonaparte in St. Helena on May 5, 1821, she married Adam Albert in September 1821.

The Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon was not only a brilliant soldier but also a great patron of the arts. He also extended his patronage to the jewelry craftsmen of Paris, who turned out exquisitely crafted pieces of jewelry for the use of his court which included a wide range of jewelry for his coronation and the coronation of Empress Josephine. Napoleon engaged the services of Martin Biennais, a gifted jewelry craftsman of Paris, to create the coronation regalia and the crowns, and the coronation sword. The coronation regalia included the robe, the crown, the sword, the scepter, the orb, the chain, the ring and the ermine collar, all encrusted with the most expensive of gems and jewels. The crown was designed by Martin Biennais, to look like the medieval Charlemagne Crown, that was destroyed during the French revolution, and traditionally used by the French Monarchs for their coronations. The famous and magnificent "Regent Diamond" was set into the handle of Napoleon's coronation sword.


During the actual coronation ceremony, Pope Pius VII, first took the crown and other regalia from the altar and blessed them, and after returning them to the altar, took his seat. Napoleon then stood up from his throne and walked up to the altar, and taking the crown from the altar placed it on his head, thus crowning himself. This procedure was agreed upon earlier, as Napoleon did not want to accept the Pope as his overlord. He then walked up to the altar and removing the "Charlemagne Crown" from his head, returned it to the altar, and replaced it with a laurel wreath made of gold, of the type worn by Roman emperors. He then took the "Charlemagne Crown" from the altar again, and walking up to the kneeling Josephine placed it on her head, crowning her as the Empress of France.

The brilliance and grandeur of Napoleon's court

After ascending the throne as the Emperor of France, Napoleon organized his court, in which ceremonies took place in an atmosphere of utmost splendor and brilliance, that was imparted by the grandiose display of gems and precious stones. The grandeur and brilliance of his court even exceeded that of some of the Bourbon monarchs who preceded him, and was almost equivalent to the great pomp and pageantry displayed in the court of the great Mogul Emperor Shah Jahaan (1628-58) of India. The grandeur and extravagance reached a climax at the time of Napoleon's marriage to Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, on April 1, 1810.

Napoleon presents the Emerald and Diamond Parure as a wedding gift to Marie-Louise

Napoleon extended royal patronage to the jewelry industry of Paris, with a view of re-establishing Paris as a creative center for luxury and fashion, a position which it had lost following the revolution. The boost given to the industry helped in its revival and it was reported in 1807 by the Chamber de Commerce, that there were 400 jewelers in Paris, employing 800 men and 2,000 women.

One of the most experienced jewelers in Paris, at the time was Marie Etienne Ni tot, who had previously collaborated with Aubert, the jewelers to King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Napoleon appointed him as his court jeweler. When Marie Etienne died in 1809, he was succeeded by his son Francois Renault as the court jeweler. As court jewelers both father and son helped Napoleon to re-assemble the jewels dispersed from the Trevor de la Couronne during the French revolution, and to acquire emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones needed for the manufacture of the expensive parures he lavished on his wives.

At the time of his marriage to Marie-Louise in 1810, it was Francois Renault who was assigned with the task of designing and manufacturing the emerald and diamond parure to be given to Marie-Louise as a wedding gift. As the emeralds that were available in the Crown Treasury were not sufficient to execute the parure he had designed, Francois Renault was compelled to make purchases of square-cut and briolette-cut emeralds weighing a total of 290 carats for the execution of the royal assignment. Examination of the "Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Necklace," acquired by the Louvre Museum recently, has shown that the emeralds used on the necklace were all of exceptional quality, being "loupe clean" with intense velvety-green color, and believed to have originated from the renowned Muzo emerald mines of Colombia, where emeralds were mined uninterruptedly from 1594 to the mid-18th century, when production came to a standstill due to a disastrous fire, and was not resumed until after the independence of Colombia in 1819. Francois Regnault delivered the completed parure to Marie-Louise in March 1810, just before the wedding that took place at the beginning of April. Being a gift to the empress the parure entered her personal collection and was never the property of the state.

Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Parure is taken to Austria after the fall of the empire

After the fall of the empire and the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, Marie Louise returned to Austria with her son. She returned all the crown jewelry in her possession to the Crown Treasury, but carried her personal jewelry to Austria. This included the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Parure given to her as a gift by Napoleon for her wedding. The Parure remained with her throughout the period of her rule as the Duchess of Pharma, and at the time of her death in 1847, she bequeathed it to her Hapsburg aunt Archduchess Elise. T.

The course of inheritance of the parure from Archduchess Elise to Archduchess Alice

Archduchess Elise who was married to Archduke Rainer, son of Leopold II, bequeathed the parure to her son the Archduke Leopold, who was the godson and cousin of Empress Marie Louise. From Archduke Leopold the parure is eventually inherited by Archduke Carl Albrecht, from whom it passes on to his wife the Archduchess Alice and his son, after his death in 1951

The Regent Diamond gained its fame when Napoleon chose to decorate his battle sword with it: the stunning, mammoth diamond is 140.64 carats in size, with a very slight, blue cast. The diamond was said to be discovered at the Golonda mine in India, and spirited out secretly by a slave, who hid it within a cut on his leg. In 1792, all the Crown Jewels of France were stolen, and the Regent Diamond was among the missing gems. Napoleon retrieved the stone for his own use in 1801. Napoleon married twice, and his latter wife was an Archduchess of Austria: she went back to her home country after her husband’s death, and the Regent passed into Austrian ownership. In time, the stone returned to France, as the generous gift of the Archduchess’ father. It now rests in the Louvre, with many other spectacular gems.

Regent Diamond

A wonderful stone of Indian origin, this was originally known as the Pitt Diamond after Thomas Pitt who acquired it after 1701 under circumstances that remain murky to this day. He claimed to pay £20,000 for it and it cost £5000 and took 2 years to cut. The cleavage and dust from this process was valued at between £7000 and £8000. It finally came to France in 1717 where it was sold for £135,000, in installments. It was renamed the Regent at this point. After being stolen in 1792 (see above) along with the Hope and the Sancy (see below) it was recovered a year later and became The National Diamond of France and was pawned and became part of many complex financial deals during this turbulent period. When Napoleon Bonapart came to power it was mounted in the hilt of his sword and after his downfall in 1814, the stone traveled around quite a lot but by 1824 was back in France and worn at the coronation of Charles X. The stone is now on display at the Louvre, fortunate indeed not to have been sold with many other stones in France in 1887 and having survived the Second World War hidden behind a stone in a chateaux at Chambord.

Partial dismounting of the Marie-Louise Emerald and Diamond Diadem

Van Cleef & Arpels, who acquired the celebrated diadem dismounted the emeralds from the setting but left all the diamonds in tact. As a renowned jewelry firm they too appreciated the historic and artistic value of the diadem and therefore decided to preserve its original framework. However, the spaces occupied by the emeralds were re-set with Persian turquoises of matching sizes and shapes.


The partially modified diadem was then purchased in 1971 by Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), the owner of the Postum Cereal Company, who was America's first business woman and the wealthiest woman in America at the time, and was a socialite, philanthropist and a great connoisseur and collector of works of art. Mrs. Post then donated the diadem to the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution of Washington DC, where it is exhibited today at the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals. Other significant pieces donated by her to the Institution include a pair of diamond earrings that once belonged to the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, the 30.82-carat "Blue Heart Diamond" ring, and an emerald and diamond necklace that once belonged to Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.

Crown with 137 carat Diamond

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