The Beau Sancy
The Beau Sancy or “Little Sancy,” a 34-carat, pear-shaped, colourless diamond gets its name from Nicholas Harlay de Sancy, Seignior de Sancy (Lord of Sancy), a nobleman of 16th-17th century France, and Superintendent of Finance to Henry IV from 1594 to 1599. Nicholas Harlay de Sancy also had a 55.23-carat, shield-shaped diamond, which came to be known as the Great Sancy or Sancy diamond, which subsequently became one of the most celebrated, historic diamonds in the world, intertwined with the history of many European nations.
The diamond being a 15th-16th century stone, undoubtedly originated in India, the only source country for diamonds during this period. The most striking feature of the diamond is the perfect symmetry of its facets as seen in the net diagram, which is
unique for a diamond of the 15th-16th centuries. The name used for the 34-carat, pear-shaped, colourless diamond before it came into Sancy’s hands is not known. But, it is believed that the stone was part of the jewels that belonged to Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, who also owned the other Sancy diamond, the Great Sancy, which he used to carry into his battles, in the belief that it brings good luck.
In 1475 Charles the Bold sent three large diamonds to Louis de Berquem for cutting and polishing, one of which was transformed into a diamond of 34 carats, that became the Beau Sancy diamond over a hundred years later.
The fate of the Beau Sancy and the Great Sancy after Charles the Bold’s death in 1477, seems to be shrouded in mystery. In any case
the diamond eventually reached one of the diamond markets of Europe, where it was purchased by the Seignior de Sancy, Nicholas Harlay de Sancy.
Nicholas Harlay de Sancy pawned his diamond collection in 1589, in Geneva and Berne, to raise funds to help Henry III during the French Wars of Religion. The Beau Sancy was acquired by Marie de Medicis, the Queen consort of King Henry IV, in 1604, but payment for the diamond was made by the king. The king died that year and his 9 year old son became king with Marie de Medicis as regent. She led several failed rebellions against the child king before fleeing to Amsterdam. At the time Marie de Medicis reached Amsterdam in 1638, the Stadtholder of the United Provinces of the
Netherlands was Prince Frederick Henry, the Prince of Orange, who gave her a grand welcome, and extended his hospitality to her for a comfortable stay in Amsterdam. While living in exile in Amsterdam, Marie de Medicis decided to sell most of her valuable possessions including her jewellery. She sold the Beau Sancy diamond to her honourable host, Prince Frederick Henry, the Prince of Orange, for 80,000 florins. Since then the Beau Sancy diamond becomes an heirloom inherited by the successive Princes of Orange.
The Beau Sancy passes down to family members till William III gives the Beau Sancy diamond as a gift to his consort Mary Stuart at the time of their wedding on November 4, 1677. After Queen Mary II’s death, the Beau Sancy was gifted by William III to his first cousin, Frederick III, Elector-Prince of Brandenburg and first King of Prussia as Frederick I, from 1701 to 1713 as William and Mary were childless. Thus, the Beau Sancy, which was a treasured family heirloom of the Princes of Orange, now became a treasured possession of the Kings of Prussia, from the House of Hohenzollern, from the
beginning of the 18th-century. The Beau Sancy became the most important stone in the crown jewels of Prussia and was set in the royal crown.
The Beau Sancy, came into the possession of Kaiser William II, the last Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia, who ruled from 1888 to 1918. In 1918, after Kaiser William’s abdication and exile, the monarchy in Germany was abolished. After the renunciation of succession rights by his elder brother, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia in 1933, and the deaths of Kaiser William in exile in 1941, and the Crown Prince William in Brandenburg in 1951, Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia became the head of the House of Hohenzollern, a nominal title which he held from 1951 until his death in 1994. The Beau Sancy diamond was now inherited by his son and successor, Prince Georg Friedrich, the present head of the House of Hohenzollern.
The two historic diamonds, the Beau Sancy and Sancy were reunited at an Exhibition held at the French Natural History Museum, Paris, from March 10 to July 15, 2001, organized by the Mineralogy Department of the Museum and sponsored by Robert Mouawad.
On 14th May 2012 the Beau Sancy came up for auction at Sotherby’s in Geneva where it sold for 9,042,500 Swiss Francs. But, as its buyer was anonymous, no one knows whether it is royalty or commoner who owns the Beau Sancy now.
The Grand Mazarin
The 19.07 carat diamond known as the Grand Mazarin originated in the Golconda mines, on India’s Deccan plateau. The Golconda mines are legendary for having produced some of the most important diamonds in history — among them the Koh-i-Noor, the Regent Diamond and the Wittelsbach-Graff, all famous for their exceptional clarity. The gem takes its name from Cardinal Mazarin, who became France’s Chief Minister in 1642. Toward the end of his life, Mazarin assembled a collection of 18 exceptional gems. These stones including the Grand Mazarin became part of the French crown jewels, having first passed from Mazarin to King Louis XIV — The Sun King — in 1661, when the French ruler was only 23 years old.
Louis’ wife, Maria Theresa of Austria, is likely to have been the first person to wear the Grand Mazarin. After Maria Theresa’s death, Louis XIV added the Grand Mazarin to his chain of diamonds, set in descending size order, on which it remained for many years.
In 1792, the French Revolution had been underway for three years. Severely weakened, King Louis XVI was forced to hand over all the property of the French crown, now stored in the Garde-Meuble, or royal treasury.
The fall of the monarchy called the fate of the crown jewels into question, but the rise of Emperor Napoleon brought a new fashion for celebrating the splendours of the past. In 1810, the Emperor commanded jeweller François-Regnault Nitot to create a magnificent set of diamond jewellery for his wife, Marie-Louise.of which the Grand Mazerine was one of them. But the Emperor’s reign was short: on the ascension of King Louis XVIII to the throne in 1814, the stone was removed and returned to the crown.
Some 70 years later, a plan to sell the French crown jewels was put in motion not long
after their appearance, in 1884, in an exhibition at the Louvre. Despite heated opposition, an auction was held in May 1887. The Grand Mazarin was purchased by Frédéric Boucheron, one of the favoured jewellers of France’s great families.
Many decades later, in 1962, the Louvre held an exhibition of fine gems. The Grand Mazarin was listed as number 22, between the legendary Regent and Sancy diamonds. This would be the last time it was ever exhibited in public.
The Grand Mazarin is again up for auction on 14 November 2017 in Magnificent Jewels at Christie’s in Geneva.
UPDATE: The Grand Mazarin sold for CHF 14,375,000 (£11,046,131).
The Star of America
The Star of America is the largest Asscher cut D-colour Flawless diamond in the world. Besides the fact that the rough stone was discovered in the alluvial deposits near the orange river in South Africa, and had a weight of 225 carats, nothing else is known about the early history of the diamond.
After nine months of cutting and polishing by the Graff company’s craftsmen, into the 100.57-carat stone you see here, to commemorate the launch of Graff USA.
The Ahmedabad Diamond
The Ahmedabad diamond gets it’s name from the city of Ahmedabad the capital of Gujarat State in central-western India, where the diamond was reported to have been purchased by Jean Baptiste Tavernier in the 17th century A.D. Jean Baptiste Tavernier was a famous French traveler and gem trader who visited Ahmedabad on several occasions in the 17th century A.D. Ahmedabad was then in the forefront of the diamond industry in India, and perhaps in the whole world as the main diamond cutting center, which was equivalent to the coveted position held by Antwerp, Belgium, today in the international diamond industry. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, not only purchased the rough diamond at Ahmedabad, but also got it cut by the renowned master-cutters based in this ancient city, an additional reason why the diamond qualifies for the name assigned to it. It was Edwin Streeter in his book, “The Great Diamonds of the World” who first used the name “Ahmedabad Diamond”, which Tavernier claimed he bought for one of his friends.
The Ahmedabad diamond was put up for sale by Christie’s in Geneva in November 1995.The stone was purchased by Robert Mouawad for a sum of around $ 4.3 million, and is now part of the rare and magnificent collection of diamonds belonging to the Mouawad family, which is arguably one of the finest private diamond collections in the world. The Ahmedabad diamond is the 8th-largest diamond in the collection. The current estimated value of the diamond is over $ 5.0 million.
The Shah Jahan Table-Cut Diamond
The Shah Jahan Table-Cut Diamond is one impressive stone. Like many of its contemporaries, this diamond has gone through periods of time when it has disappeared from public view leaving its owners unknown. Yet, this legendary stone’s distinction in gem history may not lie in how it stacks up against other diamonds with its size, color or all around beauty, but rather the unique way in which it was used by one of its owners. It is perhaps the only diamond that can lay claim to having a part in supporting a royal derriere!
Records indicate the Shah Jahan Table-Cut diamond dates back to the Classic Period of the Mogul Empire (1556-1707). The many fine diamonds worn and exhibited during this time period were probably assembled from the Tribute collected from the Qutb Shahi Sultans of Golconda.
Shah Jahan appears to have had a weakness for showmanship for he was responsible for creating and building some truly impressive images. Perhaps his most famous creation is the renowned Taj Majal. This majestic building was erected as a mausoleum for his beloved wife and became his tomb as well. The Shah Jahan created what will undoubtedly go down in history as the most spectacular – if not gaudy – throne ever made. Known as the Peacock Throne, this amazing peace of royal furniture used practically all the gems of the royal treasury. It must have been quite an intimidating sight watching the Shah receive visitors and do the empire’s business while literally sitting on part of his… impressive treasury.
This particular stone is a very distinctive 56.71 carats, octagonal, table-cut diamond.
Hanging in the Victoria and Albert Hall Museum in London is a portrait of Shah Jahan painted by Nadir uz-Zaman. Rendered in 1616-17, this painting depicts him holding a sarpech (turban ornament) set with precious stones. Upon closer examination, one of the stones in the ornament bears a striking resemblance to the Shah Jahan Table-Cut diamond. The drill holes in the diamond would indicate the likelihood that it was worn on a turban or other garment.
Shah Jahan was set aside (a polite way of saying relieved of his duties) in 1657, allowing his son Aurangzeb to take the throne. When the Persians sacked Delhi in 1739, among the many treasures they carried away was the Shah Jahan Table-Cut diamond. It may not have been in Persian hands long for, in 1741, rumor has it that when Nadir Shah sent gifts to the Empress of Russia, the Shah Jahan Table-Cut diamond was included as one of the presents.
By 1851 the Shah Jahan Table-Cut diamond resurfaced in England, making an appearance at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London. Among the exhibit’s displays were models made in crystal of the largest diamonds in the world. One of these “models” depicted the Shah Jahan Table-Cut and attribution on the stone was of Russian ownership.
In 1984 The Journal of Gemology featured a description of the Shah Jahan Table-Cut written by Mr. E.A. Jobbins and Dr. R.R. Harding. In May of 1985 an “historic” diamond weighing 56.71 carats, measuring 44.6 x 33 x 3.6 mm with an octagonal outline went up for auction at Christie’s Geneva. The stone, bearing a strong resemblance to the Shah Jahan Table-Cut diamond, did not sell. The consignor was a man claiming that the stone had been in his family since the 1890’s. The diamond has not made a public appearance since that auction.
The Mouawad Magic Diamond
The diamond is a magnificent emerald-cut, D-colour stone, weighing 108.81 carats, and has an internally flawless clarity grade.
The rough diamond was discovered in the Aredor mine in Guinea, West Africa, in the year 1991, and weighed 244.6 carats. Guinea produces a substantial quantity of diamonds, but not as high as it’s neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone. The diamonds produced in Guinea are mostly gem quality diamonds, and there has been a boost in production since 1984.
The diamond found it’s way to Antwerp, Belgium, the international power house of the diamond industry, where Robert Mouawad purchased it in March 1991.
After an extensive study of the rough diamond, followed by a careful and meticulous planning, the expert craftsmen of the company, transformed the stone into a magnificent emerald-cut of exceptional clarity, weighing 108.81 carats.
The Light of Peace Diamond
According to Morris Zale, one of the two brothers who founded the Zale Corporation of Dallas, the name “Light of Peace” for the diamond, was chosen deliberately, in order to promote the ideals of peace.
The diamond was discovered in 1969 in West Africa. The country of origin of the stone was not specified, but it was almost certain that the diamond came from Sierra Leone. The “Light of Peace” diamond, was the largest of the 13 diamonds cut from the original 435-carat rough diamond which at the time was the 14th largest rough diamond discovered in the world. It had a weight of 130.27 carats, with a pear-shaped cut, and a colour rating of D, the maximum colour rating for colourless diamonds.
The Zale Corporation entrusted the cutting of the diamond to one of it’s experienced diamond cutters Mr. Alex Franckel, who made a detailed study of the diamond for almost an year before
deciding on the best way to cut it. Prior to the actual cutting he made several castings of the diamond in lead and lucite, in order to derive at the most advantageous ways to saw and cleave the diamond, so as to obtain the biggest possible diamond. Just as the planning of the cutting took almost an year, the actual cutting of the diamond also took another complete year,
In the year 1980, the Zale Corporation sold the “Zale Light of Peace” to an anonymous buyer, for an undisclosed sum, but the New York Times reported that the corporation made a profit of $6 million on this sale. The present owners of the diamond are not known. Today it would be worth much more should it come to auction.
The Pasha of Egypt Diamond
The diamond takes its name form Ibrahim Pasha (1789-1848), Viceroy of Egypt under Ottoman rule. He purchased the gem from London jeweller Emanuel for £28,000. Emanuel described it as octagonal shape, excellent quality and weighing 40 carats. It became the finest stone in the Egyptian treasury.
In 1863 Ismail Pasha became ruler of Egypt. However, Egypt was in debt. Eventually the Sultan
of the Ottoman Empire deposed him and sent him into exile in 1879. When Ismail Pasha left Egypt he took valuables with him, among them was the Pasha diamond. Subsequently the diamond was reported to have been sold to an Englishman who put it up for sale.
In 1933 the London firm T.M. Sutton offered it to Cartier. Then the Pasha diamond returned to Egypt under the possession of King Farouk. The Italian jewellers, Bulgari, bought it from him
before selling it on to American millionairess Barbara Hutton. However, the octagonal shape of the diamond displeased her so she had it recut at Cartiers to 38.19 carats into a round shape and set into a ring.
It was last reported to be privately owned in Italy.