Friday, June 26, 2009

The Vergas Diamond

History of Vergas Diamond

On August 13, 1938 Brazil revealed its greatest gem when a diamond weighing 726.6 carats was picked up in the gravels of the San Antonio River in the Commandeer district of Mina's Gerard. Two garishness (diamond diggers or prospectors), Joaquim Venancio Tiago and Manoel Miguel Dominguez, were the lucky finders.

Their good fortune did not extend very far. Not long after they had sold the diamond to a broker for $56,000, the same man sold it for $235,000. The buyer in turn sold the gem to a Dutch syndicate represented by the Dutch Union Bank of Amsterdam. By then the diamond had been named "President Vargas" in honor of Giulio Dardanelles Vargas, president of Brazil (1930-45 and 1951-54).

While the stone remained in the bank's safety deposit vault Harry Winston learned of its existence through his brokers in Brazil; they advised him of its rare quality and exceptional size. He traveled to London, then on to Amsterdam, where he finally purchased the President Vargas. The diamond was duly shipped to New York by ordinary registered mail at a cost of seventy cents although it had been insured by Lloyds for $750,000.

On account of its unusual formation it was decided to cleave the President Vargas. A 20-carat piece was sawn from the top before the first cleaving; from this a pear shape, weighing 10.05 carats, was fashioned. The cleaving of the diamond was to result in two pieces, one of 150 carats and the other of 550 carats. But in all, twenty-nine gems were fashioned from the President Vargas, nineteen sizeable and ten smaller ones weighing a total of 411.06 carats. They comprised sixteen emerald cuts, one pear shape, one marquise and, among the lesser gems, ten triangles and one baguette.

Rough President Vergas Diamond

The name "President Vargas" has been retained by the largest gem, an emerald-cut weighing 48.26 carats.

For a number of years this diamond was owned by the wife of Robert W. Windfohr of Fort Worth, Texas, who purchased it in 1944.

In 1958 Harry Winston repurchased and re cut it to a flawless 44.17 carats stone, selling it again in 1961.

The identities of the other buyers are not known, but in 1948 was reported that the Gateway of Baroda had bought one of the Vargas gems.

In recent years two of the emerald cuts, numbers IV and VI, have come up for sale at Sotheby's in New York. In April 1989 President Vargas IV, weighing 28.03 carats, formerly among the jewels of Lydia Morrison, fetched $781,000, while in October 1992, President Vargas VI, weighing 25.4 carats, sold for $396,000.

Detail of Vergas Diamond

Vergas Diamond Before Cutting

The rough Vargas diamond was cut into 29 gems, out of which 19 were of considerable size and the remaining 10 were smaller stones. The total weight of the finished diamonds was 411 .06 carats. Out of the 29 gems, 16 were emerald-cut stones, one pear-shaped, and one marquise-cut. 10 of the smaller gems were triangular brilliants and one was a baguette. All diamonds were D-color diamonds of exceptional quality.

The largest diamond was an emerald-cut, weighing 48.26 carats and retained the name President Vargas.

Being D-color diamonds, the Vargas diamonds are most probably type IIa diamonds, that are chemically pure and structurally perfect diamonds. The presence of chemical impurities such as nitrogen, boron and hydrogen impart colors to diamonds. Likewise the presence of structural distortions can also impart rare fancy colors to diamonds. Thus the absence of these two factors make the diamonds absolutely colorless. The occurrence of these diamonds however is only about 1-2 % of all naturally occurring diamonds.

Most Famous Vergas Diamond

The lucky finders of the diamond lost no time in finding a suitable buyer for their precious find, and sold it to a diamond broker for $ 56,000. In their undue haste to convert their precious find into hard cash, the finders of the diamond suffered a great loss, for within a short time the broker who purchased the diamond sold it at the enhanced price of $ 235,000. Eventually the diamond was purchased by a Dutch syndicate represented by the Dutch Union Bank of Amsterdam. The diamond had by then be named "President Vargas" in honor of the ruling chief executive of Brazil, President Getulio Dornelles Vargas, who ruled Brazil for 15 years from 1930 to 1945 and again for 4 years from 1951 to 1954. President Vargas is credited with having brought about social and economic changes that helped modernize the country. He has also gone down in history as the "Father of the Poor" for his battle against big business and large landowners.

The diamond was then taken to Amsterdam where it was kept in the safe deposit vault of the Dutch Union Bank. In the meantime the famous diamond dealer and jeweler of New York, Harry Winston, learnt about the existence of the massive diamond of exceptional quality from his agents in Brazil. Harry Winston who was a reputed buyer of such exceptional rough stones, lost no time in taking a trip to Amsterdam via London. In Amsterdam he initiated negotiations with the Dutch syndicate who owned the diamond, and finally acquired the stone. The diamond was insured by Lloyds for $ 750,000, and yet the company agreed to the shipping of the diamond to New York by ordinary registered post. This was a usual strategy adopted by Harry Winston in dispatching valuable diamonds to his office in New York, in order to minimize attention towards the precious items, that would otherwise have involved serious security risks.

Harry Winston's team of master cutters studied the rough diamond extensively and after a long period of study that lasted several months, finally decided to cleave the diamond to many pieces in order to obtain several smaller diamonds of exceptional quality, rather than going in for one or two larger diamonds of inferior quality. The cutting of the diamond began in 1941. At first a 20-carat piece was sawn off from the top of the diamond before the actual cleaving took place. This piece was later transformed into a 10.05-carat, exceptional quality, pear-shaped diamond. The diamond was first cleaved into two unequal large pieces, one weighing 550 carats and the other 150 carats. Subsequent cleavings followed, and eventually the diamond was cut into 29 smaller pieces from which 29 gems were faceted and polished, out of which 19 were of fairly large size, with the largest being 48.26 carats, and the remaining were smaller ones. The total weight of the finished diamonds was 411.06 carats, resulting in a loss of 43 % of the original weight of the stone.

In terms of shape, 16 diamonds were emerald-cut stones, one pear-shaped, and one marquise-cut. Out of the smaller diamonds ten were triangular brilliant cuts and one was a baguette. The largest diamond which was an emerald-cut weighing 48.26 carats, retained the name President Vargas.

The Uncle Sam Diamond

The Uncle Sam Diamond

The "Uncle Sam" diamond is the largest diamond ever found in the United States, weighing 40.23 carats and discovered in 1924, by Wesley Ole Ba sham in the Prairie Creek pipe mine, which later came to be known as the Crater of Diamonds Park, situated in Arkansas. The diamond gets its name from the nick name of the founder W.O. Ba sham, who was fondly referred to as Uncle Sam.


The Uncle Sam rough diamond crystal before cutting

Nature of the Uncle Sam diamond

The diamond is a 12.42-carat, emerald-cut stone with an unknown color and clarity grade. The website of the Crater of Diamonds State Park describes the diamond as a white diamond with a pink cast weighing 40.23 carats. The clarity of the diamond appears to be exceptional from the photographs of the diamond.

The Uncle Sam Diamond- After cutting

The slight pink tone of the diamond may be caused by slight plastic distortions in the crystal structure during its formation in the earth's mantle or subsequent rise to the earth's surface. The plastic ally deformed areas of the crystal change the absorption spectrum of the stone imparting the pink color. Thus the "Uncle Sam" diamond is most probably a Type Ila diamond, free of nitrogen and other impurities, but the color being caused by plastic deformation of the crystal.

Details of Diamond

The rough diamond weighing 40.23 carats was discovered in 1924 in the Prairie Creek Pipe mine at Arkansas, by a workman of the Arkansas Diamond Company, by the name of Wesley Ola Ba sham, whose nick name was Uncle Sam. The white rough diamond became the largest diamond ever discovered in the United States, and still holds that record.

The rough diamond was said to have been cut twice, and on the second occasion transformed into a perfect emerald-cut diamond weighing 12.42 carats. In 1971, the Uncle Sam diamond was reported to have been sold to an anonymous buyer for $ 150,000.

Uncle Sams Diamond

The Crater of Diamonds State park, located on State Highway 301, in Pike Country, southwest Arkansas, near Murfreesboro, is the only diamond mine in the world open to the public, where visitors are free to search for diamonds, and keep what they find. In other words the park is operating a "finders are keepers policy", a unique policy that has never been tried out before in any part of the world. This unique approach had proved to be a tremendous success, attracting over 60,000 visitors to the park every year, among whom the lucky ones discover on an average about 600 diamonds every year. This works out to an average of two diamonds each day.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park

The search area of the Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 36½ acre site, which is believed to be the eroded surface of a gem-bearing volcanic pipe known as the Prairie Creek Kimber lite pipe. These diamonds were formed millions or perhaps billions of years ago deep inside the earth's crust about 200 to 300 Km below the surface of the earth. The diamonds were subsequently brought to the surface of the earth by a violent volcanic eruption, estimated to have taken place about 100 million years ago. Test drilling at the crater has shown that the diamond bearing reserve or pipe is shaped like a martini glass.

Kimber lites which are a type of igneous rock are mica Periodontists that are found in pipes. They are rare occurrences in the catatonic (stable) areas of the earth's crust. The stable interiors of South Africa and Siberia have wide spread occurrences, but these pipes are also found in north America, Australia, Brazil and India. Not all Kimber lites contain diamonds. When diamonds do occur they constitute less than one part per million of the rock.

The diamonds found in the Crater of Diamonds site are generally less than one carat in size. Most of them are about the size of a match head or even smaller. The diamonds exist in different colors, however, the three most common colors found are white, brown and yellow, in that order. Diamonds of significantly larger sizes ranging from 2 to 40 carats have also been discovered, but their occurrence is rare. Diamonds found at the crater are typically smooth well rounded. They have a metallic luster and are generally translucent, i. e. light passes through them but you cannot see the other side.

Besides diamonds a range of other minerals are also found in this site such as quartz, amethyst, garnet, peridot, agate, jasper, calcite, Bartie. In all about 40 different rocks and minerals have been found in the site of the crater.

Discovery of Diamonds in The Park

Diamonds were first discovered in the area in 1906, by John Wesley Huddles ton who bought a farm on the site. But it is reported that two geologists had studied the site before 1906 with a view of identifying potential diamond-bearing sites, but could not find any diamonds. On August 8, 1906, while Huddles ton was spreading rock salt on his hog farm, he observed some shiny specks in the dirt around. His curiosity aroused, Huddles ton decided to probe the area that drew his attention, and retrieved two shining pebbles from the dirt. Having refused an offer of 50 cents for the two stones from a local bank cashier, Huddles ton dispatched the two stones to a gem expert in New York City, who confirmed that the two stones indeed were diamonds. One stone was a 3.0-carat white diamond, while the other was a 1.5-carat yellow diamond.

The Place where Uncle Sams's Diamond's found

News of the discovery of diamonds by Huddles ton sparked a diamond rush in Pike country. The farm next to Huddles ton's owned by Millard M. Maurine was also situated in the same gem-bearing crater. Diamond prospectors and fortune hunters rushed to the area, and within a short time the little town of Murfreesboro, assumed a boom town atmosphere reminiscent of the Kimberley township that developed in the cape region of South Africa during the South African diamond rush in the late 19th century. Huddles ton sold his farm to a Diamond Mining Company for $ 36,000, and the public were prohibited from mining in this area. Eventually the entire land covered by the crater became the property of two rival diamond mining companies, the Arkansas Diamond Mining Company and the Ozark Diamond Mines Corporation. It was during this period in 1924, that the largest diamond ever discovered in the United States, was found by a worker of the Arkansas Diamond Mining Company, which was subsequently named the "Uncle Sam" diamond. Over the next four decades the two companies engaged in sporadic mining activity, but operated under severe financial constraints, compounded by poor management, lawsuits and sabotage. Moreover the output of the mine was not sufficient to sustain the operations of the mine and to further expand mining operations. Thus the continued operation of the mine was not economical, and operations ceased at the mine by early 1950s.

Development of the Site

In 1952 the owners of the rival companies formed a partnership, not for further exploration of the mine, which they knew very well was not worthwhile pursuing, but to develop the site as a tourist attraction. They adopted the novel suggestion that the mine area be opened to the public to look for diamonds after paying a nominal fee, and keep what they find. The site was called the "Crater of Diamonds". A museum, gift shop and restaurant were also built and the site was promoted aggressively as a tourist attraction. The project turned out to be a modest success and several diamonds of significant sizes were discovered during this period. They are the 15.33-carat "Star of Arkansas" diamond discovered in 1956, that sparked a second diamond fever. Other diamonds include the 6.42-carat Gary Moore diamond discovered in 1960, and the 34.25-carat "Star of Murfreesboro" discovered in 1964.

Uncle Sam's Diamond Mine

In 1972 the Crater of Diamonds was purchased by the State of Arkansas, and converted into the Crater of Diamonds State Park. The new state administration of the park continued with the open policy of allowing the public to scout for diamonds for a fee, and keeping the find. Facilities provided for visitors were tremendously improved, and today the park has become one of the leading tourist attractions not only in the state but the entire country. Some of the facilities provided for visitors include camp sites, picnic sites, a cafe, standard pavilion that includes rest rooms, laundry, and gift shops, hiking trails, and interpretive programs for park visitors, and an aquatic play ground called the Diamond Springs. The parks interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site's geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough. Diamond mining tools are available for rent or purchase. The Diamond Discovery Center provides free identification and certification of diamonds and minerals discovered.

Today the visitor turnout at the park is over 60,000 annually. Over 600 diamonds are discovered annually, which works out to an average of two diamonds per day. Since the discovery of diamonds in the area in 1906, over 70,000 diamonds have been unearthed, and since the establishment of the State owned park in 1972, over 25,000 diamonds have been discovered in the park. The largest diamond discovered since the crater became an Arkansas state park in 1972, was the 16.37-carat white diamond the "Amarillo Starlight" found in 1975 by W. W. Johnson, of Amarillo, Texas. About 15 other diamonds ranging in size from 3 carats to 9 carats, have also been discovered during this period.

Commercial mining at the site

In early 1990s Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas signed a bill to authorize a lease for commercial exploration and mining at the park. A consortium of four mining companies undertook a preliminary exploratory survey to look into the possibilities of starting a full-scale deep mining operation. However, by 1994 it was clear that the returns from this exploratory operation were not encouraging, to make a full-scale mining operation viable. Consequently the companies decided to withdraw from the project. Further studies conducted in 1996, confirmed the results of the previous studies, and it appears that the Crater of Diamonds State Park is destined to maintain its status quo as a popular diamond "hunting" ground with all the thrill and adventure associated with it.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

History of The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

Tiffany's good looking diamond

The fact that no major gemological organization has ever formerly examined the Tiffany Yellow remains to be seen. Herbert Til lander addresses this in his book Diamond Cuts in Historic Jewelry - 1381 to 1910, in which he writes about the Tiffany Yellow:

The golden-yellow Tiffany is not only a typical Stellar Cut Brilliant with a star-like arrangement of small facets around the cutlet, but the crown is stepped, which consequently involves splitting the main facets. This was a standard procedure.* The pavilion, however, received three steps: between the regular two steps a third was applied, which was probably unique. This involved the splitting of the lower main facets into two triangular and one flat keystone-shaped facet. Consequently the Tiffany Yellow Diamond received 40 actual facets on the crown and 48 on the pavilion, plus the compulsory table and cutlet - in all, 90 facets compared with the 56 plus two facets of the Standard Brilliant Cut.

No one has ever explained why such a bulky step cut was applied to this diamond. It seems that priority was given to weight retention, since the prestige of a diamond depended at that time primarily on its weight. Dr. Kunz state "that this unprecedented number of facets was given the stone not to make it more brilliant, but less brilliant. The stone was of yellow color, and it was thought better to give it the effect of a smothered, smoldering fire than one of flashing radiance.The stone has an unusual feature, in a yellow diamond, of retaining its color by artificial light. The designers decided to ignore the modern rules of proportioning (such as those introduced to America by Morse) since these would have produced a Brilliant of well below the magic figure of 100 carats, which entitles a diamond to the name of 'Paragon'. Here, even the classic proportions would not have done -- a Brilliant with the width and length of this stone 27 mm × 28.25 mm with 45° angles would have barely weighed 100 carats.

In the end, a number of solutions were found. Obviously, the diameter of the finished gem was weighed against a symmetrical outline. But the height of the crown, the thickness of the girdle and the depth of the pavilion could all be substantially increased. In fact, they managed to retain a vertical measurement of 81.5 percent 22.2 mm as compared with Jeffrey' 68 percent and the modern 60 percent.

A view of the crown, pavilion and side of the Tiffany Yellow's facet layout.

The convex silhouette shows not only the weight saved through stepping but also an exceptionally high crown and deep pavilion. Other measures were taken in order to produce desired light effects. An exact calculation was made of the angles of reflection and refraction of light and the cutlet was given a size which made it act as a reflector. Until the Tiffany Yellow Diamond is professionally examined two queries remain unsolved: the four extra facets on the pavilion, adjacent to the girdle, and the often-mentioned seventeen polished spots on the girdle which, according to a check-up at the premises of Tiffany in 1945, are 'no true facets'.

We know that the rough, a fine octahedron weighing 287.42 carats, was found in about 1878 in what appears to have been the French-owned part of the De Beers Mines. It was shipped to Paris where it was shown to the Tiffany representatives. The result was extraordinary, as we have seen. The finished gem has the amazing weight of 128.54 carats. It was, until recently, the largest golden-yellow diamond in the world. According to the official invoice from a Paris office, the Tiffany Yellow Diamond was shipped to New York on the City of Chester on June 15th, 1880, and was listed with a number of other gems 'on consignment' at 100,000 French francs.

It should be noted that at some time, the clarity of VS1 was mentioned for the Tiffany Yellow. This, however, might have been an educated guess by a Tiffany official rather than an actual clarity grade issued by a gemological lab. British gemologist Michael Hing, who handled the Tiffany Yellow in person when it was shown at an exhibition in Paris in 2000, said that the diamond has signs of wear, and there is a noticeable scratch in the table facet. He offered to re polish the diamond for Tiffany & Co., which would have removed the wear marks with a very minimal loss of carat weight, but they turned him down. Mr. Hing has also hinted that the 'lack of wording' in the color descriptions of the Tiffany Yellow is a hint at what the stone's color is. The diamond is always described as 'canary yellow' or 'golden-yellow', but these are not actual gemological color grades. A color grade would be something like Fancy Intense Yellow, Fancy Light Orange y-Yellow, Fancy Yellow or something like that.

Tom R. Barbour published his instructions in the March, 1963 issue of Lapidary Journal on how to cut a Tiffany Yellow replica, he called for a 27 mm x 27 mm x 21 mm finished stone. His measurements as well as his facet design were relatively close, at least compared to some of his other replicas. Greg Thompson, a friend of mine from the Texas Facets Guild whom I am helping compile Gem cad files of famous diamond replicas, showed me that the stone does NOT have 90 facets, which is the figure most sources list, but rather 86 facets, as shown in the Bauer and Tillander drawings... In other words, the four missing pavilion facets are something him.

This got me thinking... What is considered a dirty word in the diamond industry, as far as pitching sales goes? BROWN. Special dressed-up words are always used to describe brown, words like 'champagne', 'cognac' or 'coffee'. If the Tiffany Yellow had a brown overtone to it, Tiffany & Co. might not want it known, out of fear that it might the diamond sound bad. Personally, I've seen a number of brown diamonds, or diamonds with brown overtones that were absolutely beautiful, and I believe that calling a diamond brown, brownish-yellow, brownish-orange or some other combination does not hurt a stone. Brown is just a word to describe color, i.e., a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.

The Tiffany Yellow

It is debatable whether Truman Capote novel Breakfast at Tiffani's did much to increase the prestige of this famous New York jewelry store because long before 1958, the year of the book's publication, it had become a household name within the United States as well as abroad. Doubtless some people continue to inquire whether the store does serve breakfast to its clientele, but of course what the delightfully-named heroine, Holly Go lightly, sought was not refreshment of the stomach but of the spirit, which was supplied by the sight of the magnificent gems on display in the showcase.

Founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837, Tiffany & Co. came to the fore among diamond merchants during the second half of the 1800s. During the political disturbances in Paris in 1848, which cumulative in the over through of King Louis Philippe, the firm bought a large quantity of jewels. At the sale of the French Crown Jewels in 1887, Tiffany's bought a great diamond necklace of Empress Eugenie, considered at the time to have been the finest single item to go on sale, four diamonds which may have been among the former Mazarin, as well as several other pieces. In the end, Tiffany's emerged as the largest buyer, with 24 of the total 69 lots.

Between these two events in French history came the discovery of diamonds in South Africa. Tiffany's were active there too, buying a light-yellow cushion of 77 carats cut from a rough stone weighing fractionally less than 125 carats and another fine yellow gem weighing 51 and 7/8 carats. Both of these two diamonds were among the first large stones to be cut in New York City. They were surpassed, however, by the famous gem named after its owners. In the rough, the stone was a beautiful canary-yellow octahedron weighing 287.42 metric carats.

It is believed that the Tiffany Yellow was found in either 1877 or 1878. The lack of exact information concerning the correct date of its discovery extends to its location as well; this has been variously described as the 'De Beers Mine' or the 'Kimberly Mine', 'the De Beers Mines' or 'the Kimberly Mines'. The finding of the Tiffany Yellow took place before accurate records of the discovery of large diamonds from South Africa were kept. However, the clue to its location has been supplied by one writer who has stated it was found in the mines of the French Company. This was the colloquial name for the Compagnie Franglais de Diamant du Cap, an important mining concern, the existence of which sparked off the most momentous financial struggle which the diamond industry has witnessed.

Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffanys.

In the belief that the only solution to the problems posed by the inefficient and haphazard mining methods employed by the Kimberly deposits lay in the amalgamation of the multitude of claims into one unit, by 1887 Cecil Rhodes and his colleagues had succeeded in making the De Beers Mining Company, which was then headed by the flamboyant Barney Barnaul.

Born Barnett Isaac in 1852, the son of a small shopkeeper off Petticoat Lane, one of the best-known streets in London's East End, Barnaul was in every respect the complete antithesis of Rhodes. Barnaul was an extrovert, imbued with Jewish-Cockney wit and humor. After leaving school at fourteen, he obtained a number of odd jobs including being a 'bouncer' at a public house and appearing on stage at a music hall. Several of his relatives left for South Africa after hearing of the discovery of diamonds there, so Barney eventually followed them. His only capital on arrival at the diamond fields consisted of a box of cigars - of doubtful quality - which he hoped to sell to the diggers. He became an itinerant buyer of diamonds, his genial personality proving a useful asset. In time, he bought for claims in the center of the Kimberly Mine and prospered so that he was able to form the Barnato Diamond Mining Company. Like Rhodes, Barnaul kept on buying up claims. In 1885 Barnato merged his company with that of Baring-Gold's Kimberly Central Mining Company, thus giving him a strong hold in the Kimberly Mine as that of Rhodes in the De Beers Mine.

Since his company was going so well, Barnaul saw no reason at all why he should join any scheme of Rhodes for amalgamation. However, one obstacle lay in the path of the Kimberly Central, namely the Companion Franglais de Diamante du Cap. By virtue of its position within the Kimberly Mine and the policy it pursued, the French Company impeded any success of future operations by Barnabe's company. Consequently Barnaul made proposals to the French: but Rhodes had already done likewise and had succeeded in raising the finance necessary for the purchase of the French Company in Paris. Rhodes then laid a trap for his rival. He told Barnaul that he could acquire the French Company if he wanted it and would not ask for cash in payment, only the equivalent of the price paid in Kimberly Central's recently issued new shares. By this means Rhodes was able to secure a useful foothold in the form of one-fifth of Kimberly Central's issued capital; all the time this had been his real objective, not the control of the French Company. Barnaul acquiesced in his plan, falling right into the trap Rhodes had set for him.

The stage was now set for a titanic battle for the remainder of the Kimberly Central's issued capital. Both Rhodes and Barnaul bought recklessly, and at a time when the price of diamonds barely covered the cost of production, the company's shares soared from £14 to £49 within a few months. Eventually Rhodes and his associates could claim to own three-fifths of Kimberly Central's issued capital and Barnaul realized he had been beaten. He surrendered in March of 1888, accepting the terms which gave Rhodes the control he had sought. On March 12th, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was formerly incorporated. The new company took over assets which represented the whole of the De Beers Mine, three-quarters of the Kimberly Mine and a controlling interest in the Bloemfontein and Dutoitspan Mines. Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnaul were appointed among the company's first Life Governors.

Sine if the Kimberly Central's shareholders, however, disapproved of Barnaul selling out to Cecil Rhodes and challenged the merger in the Courts. It was the judge who told them that if Barnaul agreed to put Kimberly Central into voluntary liquidation, De Beers could simply purchase its assets. Accordingly this is what the company did: Rhodes wrote out a check for £5,338,650 for the assets of Kimberly Central, which, in those days, was the largest sum of money ever covered in a single check.

Further evidence that the Tiffany Yellow Diamond must have originated in the claims of the historically important French Company is show by the fact that the gen was shipped to Paris. Experts there studied it for one year before it was cut under the supervision of the distinguished gemologist George F. Kudzu in 1878. It yielded a cushion-cut brilliant of 128.54 metric carats, measuring 27 mm wide, 28.25 mm long and 22.2 mm deep. It was given a total of 90 facets: 48 on the pavilion, 40 on the crown, plus the table and cutlet. The extra facets were cut not to give the diamond more sparkle, rather to make it smolder as if it were lit by fire. The gem is high in fluorescence and retains this rich color in artificial light, but is even more beautiful by day.

The head of Tiffany's office in Paris, Mr. Gideon Reed, bought the Tiffany Yellow for $18,000, on behalf of the firm, whence it was imported into the United States in 1879. Initially, little publicity attended the diamond after its arrival there, a deliberate policy which has been ascribed by Charles Tiffany's fears that, as yellowish diamonds were being produced in South Africa in greater quantities than every before, this particular diamond might merely be one of many such stones. However, it is important to draw a distinction between light yellow and yellowish diamonds and those of the rare deeper canary yellow; the Tiffany Yellow remains one of the finest examples of the latter of the three.

It was not long before the existence of the Tiffany Yellow did become widely known. In 1896 one of the triumvirate who ruled China, the Viceroy Li Hung-Chang - about whom President Grant is said to have remarked, 'There are three great men in the world, Gladstone, Bismarck and Chang, but the greatest of these is Chang' - visited New York. He announced that the one thing he wished to see was the Tiffany Yellow Diamond, a request that was duly met by the firm.

The Tiffany Yellow, set in Jean Schlesinger's "Bird on the Rock" brooch.

Since being viewed by this distinguished visitor, the Tiffany Yellow has been seen by millions of others in almost seventy years of continuous display in Tiffany's store. It has also been shown at numerous exhibitions: they include the Chicago Colombian in 1893, the Pan-American in 1901, the Chicago Century of Progress in 1933-34 and the New York World's Fair in 1939. The first occasion on which the diamond was worn was in 1957 at the Tiffany Ball held in Newport, Rhodes Island, when the chairwoman of the ball, Mrs. Sheldon White house, had the honor of wearing it, mounted for the occasion in a necklace of white diamonds. In 1971 the Tiffany Yellow returned to South Africa for the exhibition which marked the centennial celebrations of the Kimberly Mine. After an absence of forty years from London, Tiffany's re-opened their branch in Old Bond Street in 1986, and displayed the diamond to herald its return.

The best glimpse of the stone's pavilion

The sole disturbance in the otherwise uneventful history of the Tiffany Yellow concerns reported attempts to sell the stone, which was valued at $12,000,000 at the end of 1983. In 1951 the new chairman of Tiffany's recommended that the gem be sold, a decision which not surprisingly horrified certain members of the old Board. A buyer agreed to pay $500,000 for the stone but the deal fell through because the chairman wanted a check in full whereas the prospective buyer wished for other financial arrangements to be made. Then on November 17th, 1972 the New York Times carried an advertisement by Tiffany offering to sell the diamond for $5,000,000. However, in the circumstances it would be as well to recall the story of the eager new salesman who, when asked what he would get if he sold the famous gem, was promptly told by the head of the firm 'Fired!'

Tiffany Yellow, from NW Diamonds & Gems. The stone measures 28.11 × 28.23 × 15.51.

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