The Esperanza (Spanish for “hope”) Diamond is said to be the most valuable diamond ever found in the US, with an estimated value in excess of $1 million dollars (though most experts agree this is an extremely conservative estimate, given the stone’s uniqueness). Not only is this custom-cut icicle-shaped stone among the five largest diamonds found in the Diamond Crater Park, Arkansas, but its clarity is almost unparalleled. The rough stone was found in July 2015 by one Bobbie Oscarson of Colorado, who named it in honour of her niece, Esperanza, and had it set in a gorgeous pendant.
What’s amazing about “Esperanza” is that it was picked out of the soil by Oskarson, a visiting
Esperanza Rough Diamond
Coloradan, who paid a mere $8 to dig for riches at the only diamond site in the world where amateur prospectors of all ages get to keep what they find. She made her spectacular discovery within 20 minutes of entering “The Pig Pen,” the 37 1/2-acre ploughed field that is actually the eroded surface of the eighth-largest, diamond-bearing deposit in the world.
Originally 8.52 carats in weight and the shape of an icicle, “Esperanza” was transformed by Master Diamond Cutter Mike Botha into a unique 4.64-carat teardrop “triolette.” Botha’s 147-facet triolette is a shape of his own design. It resembles a
teardrop and merges the elements of both emerald and trapezoid shapes. The painstaking cutting and polishing process took 130 hours.“Esperanza” was then set vertically in a platinum mounting designed by jeweller Ian Douglas of The Inspired Collection, Wellington, New Zealand. The unique mounting is intended to emphasize the triolette shape.
The Esperanza was due to be offered for sale at Skinner’s fine jewellery auction in Boston on March 21, 2017, where it carried a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 and was the top lot in a show that will include more than 500 items. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, the auction never went ahead and the Esperanza is still unsold. This is a popular diamond in the USA where it even has its own Facebook page with more than 1,000 followers!
Creator Rough Diamond
The Creator is the third largest diamond ever to be found in Russia, or the entire territory of the former Soviet Union, for that matter, coming hard on the heels of the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union diamond and the Alexander Pushkin diamond, first and second largest, respectively. On the flipside, it is the largest post-Soviet diamond ever found in Russia, having been unearthed in 2004. The Creator weighs 298.48 carats, and it still sits raw in the Russian Diamond Fund in Moscow Kremlin.
The Creator is a coloured rough stone mined in the lower reaches of the Lena River in the eponymous mining facility, by a process called placer mining. This, essentially, translates into everyday English as mining the river deposits, not too dissimilar to panning for gold, but on a much larger scale. The stone has never been put on sale.
The Louis Cartier
Louis Cartier Diamond
The diamond was discovered in South Africa in September 1974, but the mine of origin is unknown. The weight of the rough diamond was 400 carats. Cartier purchased the diamond, however, the master cutters involved in processing the diamond are not known. It is said that the cutting of the diamond took almost two years, and when completed resulted in three finished diamonds. The largest diamond that weighed 107.07 carats, was a pear-shaped, colourless and flawless stone, that was named in honour of Louis Cartier (1875-1942), who created the first popular wrist watch for men in 1911, known as the Santos. Two other smaller diamonds were also produced from the original rough and came to be known as Louis Cartier I and Louis Cartier II.
Louis Cartier (1875-1942)
Cartier put the diamond on display in October 1976, in New York City, and subsequently at their branches in London and Paris on the occasion of the jeweller Louis Cartier’s 100th birthday celebration. The estimated value of the diamond in 1976 was $ 5 million. It appears that the diamond is still in the possession of Cartier and there are no reports about its sale. Cartier who was once referred to by the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, as “Jeweller to Kings and King of Jewellers” had been associated with some of the most extravagant and famous diamonds.
(Also known as the Saxon White)
The 49.71-carat cushion-cut Dresden White diamond is, obviously, a cousin of the equally famous Dresden Green. Much like the Dresden Green, the Dresden White used to be a part of a magnificent collection of gems and jewellery in possession of Frederick Augustus II (the Strong). The diamond is a late 17th century or early 18th century stone and believed to be from the famed Golconda mines of India, mostly due to its superb clarity. Today, as it has for the greater part of its existence, the diamond rests in Dresden.
Frederick Augustus I of Saxony
When the diamond was shown to Frederick Augustus I, the King of Poland and elector of Saxony, he was so taken up by the cut, clarity and colour of the diamond, that he decided to acquire the diamond at any cost. Eventually, he is reported to have paid between $750,000 and $1,000,000 for the diamond possibly a record price per carat paid for a colourless diamond at that time. The diamond came to be known as the Dresden White or Saxon White diamond, and was only second in importance to the celebrated Dresden Green diamond, among the valuable collection of jewels in the Green Vault, in Dresden.
Frederick Augustus II of Saxony
Frederick Augustus I (1694-1733) was a monarch of extravagant and luxurious tastes. He contributed a great deal to develop the Saxon industry and trade. He was also a collector and connoisseur of jewels and jewellery and put together an extravagant collection of these items. His collection of paintings included important renaissance and baroque works by Italian, Dutch, and Flemish masters. In order to house his enormous collection of paintings, sculptures, jewels and other treasures he set up a “Green Vault” in Dresden Castle. Today the contents of the “Green Vault” are housed in the Albertinium Museum, built on the same site as the Dresden Castle, that was destroyed by the massive allied bombings of World War II.
The Dresden Fleece
Frederick Augustus, I was succeeded by his son Frederick Augustus II (1733-1763). He too was a notable patron of the arts and a collector of jewels. He purchased the famous Dresden Green diamond at the Leipzig Fair held in 1741, for a sum of 400,000 thalers. In the year 1746, Frederick Augustus II commissioned the jewellery designer and goldsmith Pallard of Vienna, to design a golden fleece that incorporates both the Dresden White and Dresden Green diamonds. Pallard’s golden fleece ornament was made up of three sections. The 49.71-carat Dresden White diamond was incorporated as the centrepiece of the topmost section, surrounded by several smaller white diamonds. The more famous 40.70-carat, pear-shaped, Dresden Green diamond was set as the centrepiece of the middle section of the fleece, also surrounded by smaller white diamonds. The lowermost section which carried the golden fleece had another unnamed cushion-shaped white diamond as its centrepiece.
During the hostilities of the seven years war from 1756 to 1763, the valuable treasures
Dresden White as a hat ornament
of the “Green Vault” were transferred to the safety of the fortress of Konigstein in southeast Dresden by the Elba river. The war ended with defeat for Saxony, and the treasures were moved back to the “Green Vault.” Pallard’s golden fleece was dismantled several years after this war in 1768. However, the upper and the middle sections of the fleece containing the Dresden White diamond and the Dresden Green diamond have been preserved up to this day though in a different setting, as hat pin ornaments.
The Dresden diamonds stayed in the “Green Vault” until 1945. The Soviet Trophies Commission which was in the city at that time of the devastating bombing raid of 1945, took the contents of the “Green Vault” to Moscow but returned them safely in 1958. The contents are now on display in the Albertinium Museum in Dresden, which was built on the same site as the former Dresden Castle.
The Flame is a perfect, internally flawless 100-carat pear-shaped diamond. Discovered in an Angolan mine, the rough – weighing in at 225 carats – was purchased by Graff Diamonds
Graff Flame Necklace
and cut by their Master Cutter Antonio Bianco. It was put on a necklace setting but this is all the information I have on this gorgeous diamond.
Graff Diamonds Ltd.’s 100-carat pear-shaped ‘The Flame’ necklace is displayed during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) roadshow in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, May 21, 2016.
The Cleveland Diamond
In 1884 David Dessau purchased a 100 carat diamond from South Africa via London. David and his son Simon differed on what to call the diamond. Davis wanted to name it the Cleveland diamond and Simon wanted to call it the Blaine diamond. Cleveland and Blaine were the names of the candidates in the Presidential Election in 1884.
For weeks father and son debated the issue, before reaching an agreement; if Cleveland won, they would name the largest diamond in North America after him, if Blaine, then it would be known henceforth as the Blaine diamond.
David Dessau had been a moderately successful lawyer, however, often payment would be had in the form of chickens, whisky, and the like. One client even went so far as to pay Dessau in what looked to be a fairly valueless diamond. When Dessau rubbed one on a window and realized it could cut glass, he had an epiphany; diamonds useless as jewellery could be used in manufacturing. Dessau abandoned the law practice for a career in the manufacturing of diamond tipped industrial tools, and in the process made himself a fortune.
Part of this fortune was used to bring over the large diamond from London, it would be the biggest stone ever cut in America, they brought on a third partner, John Rogers, an eccentric theatrical booking agent with a love of showgirls.
While Rogers was off hunting showgirls the Dessaus had what was now known as the
President Grover Cleveland
Cleveland Diamond cut down to 42 carats and polished; they displayed the Diamond at the New Orleans World Cotton Centennial. Following the Exhibition, President Cleveland announced that he was “highly delighted” to have the diamond named after himself.
With no other takers on the horizon, the Dessau’s sold their share to Yours Merrily Rogers, who promptly bestowed it on Minnie Palmer a showgirl he had fallen for.
A 42-carat diamond could raise the matrimonial interest of all but the most level-headed of women, and Palmer loved jewels, which Rogers kept providing. Their marriage was low on wedded bliss which culminated one evening with Rogers sitting on the side of Palmer’s bed, calling her endearing names before suddenly pressing a foot-long kitchen knife to her throat. She escaped, and filed for divorce, agreeing to split the jewellery collection with her husband. Rogers kept the Cleveland Diamond, and Palmer fled across the Atlantic.
Rogers’ finances began to sink, so he approached the Actors’ Guild with an offer to raffle off the Cleveland Diamond at a fair being held at Madison Square Garden. Rogers drove a hard bargain only agreeing to put the Diamond up for the raffle if the Actors’ Guild paid off loans secured by the gem, and agreed to split the raffle’s proceeds. The gentlemen in charge of the raffle assented.
His debts paid off, Rogers headed to Europe to reconcile with Palmer. Meanwhile, the raffle went on, but when the Actors’ Guild drew the winning ticket, it was discovered that no one purchased it. The contract with Rogers called for only one draw, so keeping his half of the raffle proceeds, Rogers agreed with the Actors’ Guild to auction off the diamond, leaving it in their hands as he worked on getting Palmer to call off the divorce. She agreed to reconcile, but a few months later the mercurial Rogers filed for divorce against her, citing an alleged affair.
Rogers realised that he’d never been paid for his half of the proceeds the diamond received at Actors’ Guild auction. When the Guild failed to provide the funds, Rogers filed suit; the Actors Guild’s lawyer claimed that the auction had been held and Rogers paid, but their testimony on the stand was curious. No one could remember who served as auctioneer, how much the diamond had fetched, who bought it, or when Rogers had been paid. With no evidence, the New York Supreme Court dismissed the case.
The Cleveland Diamond was never heard from again after the Madison Square Garden Fair raffle in 1892. The Actors’ Guild did nothing to search for it out of a concern for their own complicity in its disappearance. Rogers, still infatuated with Palmer attempted to reconcile with her once more, an attempt she wisely rebuffed. He died at the age of 92 in 1936.
The Colenso Diamond is an uncut octahedral 133-carat diamond, found in South Africa in 1883. It was one of the earliest notable large diamonds found there. The story of how it was found is tragic; a storekeeper in South Africa left his shop and went into the country to go diamond prospecting. He, along with two partners began digging. After a while, the claim appeared to be valueless, so the storekeeper and one of the two partners left, leaving the third man to mine on his own. Sadly, the workings fell in on the man, killing him.
After a few months, the storekeeper returned, to recover the body for burial. When he dug up the remains, he also found a large rough diamond. He
brought the diamond to England and sold it to RC Nockold, a diamond merchant.
The diamond was shown to John Ruskin, an author, art critic and social reformer who was a frequent visitor to Nockold’s shop. Ruskin bought the diamond for a thousand pounds, and he and his secretary spent a long time studying the diamond and making sketches of it. Ruskin presented the diamond to the Keeper of Minerals at the British Museum in 1887, on condition that it be displayed with the following description: ‘The Colenso Diamond, presented in 1887 by John Ruskin, in honour of his friend the loyal and patiently adamantine First Bishop of Natal’.
The Bishop of Natal was John William Colenso, a close friend of Ruskin. He was a notable mathematician and scholar of the Zulu language, who wrote a Zulu-English dictionary with over 10,000 entries! A champion of Zulu interests, he
Stolen Diamond Poster
became known as “Sobantu”, meaning “the father of his people”. The diamond was on display for over 70 years, when, unfortunately, it was stolen in a robbery in 1965.
A David John Knight was arrested about six months later and was found guilty of the theft. The stepson of the Head Warder, he lived in the residence of the museum. He was sentenced to three years. It was later claimed that he had been framed for the theft by two officers who were later found guilty of corruption. The investigating officer gave evidence that Knight confessed, and had stated that the diamond had been shipped to Denmark. The diamond was never recovered.
Mirror of Portugal
(Also known as Mazarin III)
Mirror of Portuga – replica
Owners of this stone ranged from the tenacious to the hapless, the romantic to the cunning. This diamond helped persuade a Queen to risk her fleet, a king to satisfy the love pangs of his son, another King to go into hoc, a Duke to risk his wealth, an Italian turned Frenchman to covet it, and a nameless person to steal it. It changed name, from that of the country which initially possessed it, to the name of its final recorded owner. Not seen in centuries, its beauty is lost to all but an anonymous owner. Such is the story of the Mirror of Portugal diamond.
After the death of Cardinal King Henry, ruler of Portugal, Dom António de Castro, Prior of Crato declared himself ruler. However, Spain saw things differently and refused to recognize Dom António as Portugal’s new ruler preferring their own King Philip II. Dom António fought for his right to rule his country, but he and his army are defeated by Spain. Dom António escapes to England, taking with him a portion of the Portuguese
Queen Elizabeth I wearing the Mirror of Portugal
Crown Jewels. One of these jewels is the prized Mirror of Portugal, described as a table-cut diamond of approximately 30 carats.
Now in London, Dom António attempts to sell the jewels to the British Crown to finance yet another round of hostilities with Spain. Queen Elizabeth I, in 1589, sends her fleet to Lisbon on his behalf with disastrous results. Now Dom António is not only smarting from consecutive losses to the Spanish, his jewels – including the Mirror of Portugal – are now the property of Queen Elizabeth who decides to keep the stones to defray the costs of the ill-fated endeavour. Defeated, broke, and bitter Dom António decides to return to Paris to live out his days in exile. Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth has the Mirror of Portugal diamond set in a gold pendant and surrounded by enamelled flowers which she hangs from a chain.
The diamond remains in English hands until the reign of Elizabeth’s successor James I, who allows his love-struck son Charles to take a group of stones from the royal
Queen Henrietta Maria wearing the Mirror of Portugal
collection and offer them to Spain in an attempt to win a betrothal to the Infanta, Maria Anna. Among this collection is the Mirror of Portugal, now re-set together with a large pearl. The attempt proved unsuccessful. The rebuked Charles then decides to marry Henrietta Maria of France, a Catholic.
Now crowned King Charles I, he finds himself in a constant state of poverty. When England becomes embroiled in a costly civil war, Charles sends his dutiful wife Henrietta to the Netherlands in an attempt to raise money for his throne. Unsuccessful in her venture to sell the Mirror of Portugal along with other valuables to the Dutch, Henrietta finally is able to find a willing partner in the Duke of Épernon. She works out a deal using the diamonds to collateralize a loan
from the Duke. When Charles I defaults on the loan, the Duke keeps the diamonds and recoups his losses by selling the Mirror of Portugal to Cardinal Mazarin for his collection.
It is at this point the Mirror of Portugal becomes known as Mazarin III. While in the Mazarin collection the diamond formerly known as the Mirror of Portugal’s weight decreases from its 1691 inventoried weight of 25 3/8 carats to 21 1/8 carats in the 1791 inventory. Unfortunately, in 1792 during the upheaval of the French Revolution, the Mirror of Portugal, along with many other famous jewels, is stolen during the robbery of the Garde Meuble (National Treasury) and disappears forever.
The Lahore Diamond
Coronation Necklace featuring the Lahore Diamond
The Coronation necklace features 26 large diamonds. Set in silver, gold and platinum, the 25 set in the main necklace are a range of sizes up to 11.25 carats. The 26th diamond is the Lahore Diamond, the 22.48-carat pendant which was previously suspended from the Timur Ruby necklace from India.
Queen Victoria was very careful about which jewels she wore; at the beginning of her reign, she was a petite young girl with an image to project (and in later years, a widow constantly conscious of maintaining her mourning status). She grew fond of a necklace of large diamond collets that had belonged to
Queen Victoria wearing the Coronation Necklace
Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III whose jewels were left in dispute after her death between her Hanover relatives and the British royal family. When the dispute was decided in the King of Hanover’s favour, Queen Victoria lost her precious necklace and this one was commissioned as a replacement. The original necklace included 28 stones and added up to a whopping 161 carats; 3 were removed later on. Victoria left the set to the Crown in her will.
Though the set might most accurately be called Queen Victoria’s Diamond Necklace and Earrings, it has become known as the Coronation Necklace and Earrings in the years since Queen Victoria’s passing. Every queen since Victoria has
The Queen Mother wearing the Coronation Necklace
worn this necklace at her coronation: Queen Alexandra in 1902, Queen Mary in 1911, Queen Elizabeth in 1937, and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Queen Elizabeth, the future Queen Mother, reportedly swapped out a few of the diamonds for collets from other necklaces to make a second pair of earrings. She used the Lahore Diamond upright in the top cross
Queen Elizabeth II at the State Opening of Parliment
of her crown, wearing only the chain with no pendant at the 1937 coronation (at this point, the diamond was actually cut down a bit to its current size). And in her own version of piling on the necklaces, she sometimes added a second longer collet necklace which was a present from the king to mark their coronation.
The necklace and earrings transferred to the Queen Elizabeth II when she came to the throne. The Queen likes to wear the necklace on its own. She lets the necklace speak for itself – and with diamonds this large, that’s all you really need to do. It’s a popular choice for the State Opening of Parliament, and she also wore it for her Diamond Jubilee portrait, just as Queen Victoria once did.