Important Colourless Diamonds Pt 5

The Jonker Diamond

The Jonker Diamond

The Jonker diamond gets its name from Johannes Jacobus Jonker, the poor diamond digger in whose claim at Elandsfontein, about 5 Km south of the Premier mine, the diamond was discovered on January 17th 1934. The rough Jonker diamond had a slightly elongated shape, the greatest length being 63.5 mm and width 31.75 mm. The colour of the stone was white and it’s clarity exceptional.

The story of the discovery of the Jonker diamond is very interesting. Johannes Jacobus Jonker was a 62-year old white South African settler, who had tried his luck at diamond digging for a long period of 18 years, but without any success. But, finally luck seems to have knocked at Mr. Jonker’s door. He was working a claim, at  Elandsfontein, 4.8 Km south of the Premier mine and 40 Km east of Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. Mr. Jonker was a father of seven children, and some of his sons use to assist him in the work of digging. January 17th,1934, Mr. Jonker decided to stay at home.  He decided to send his son

Jonker Rough

Gert, together with two of his native South African employees, to continue the digging operations on his claim. Johannes Makani, one of the native employees who was washing a bucketful of gravel, suddenly picked up something from the bucket.  Makani was overridden with joy and shouted, “Oh God. I have found it.” He rushed to Gert Jonker, and showed him his find. Gert at first thought he was looking at a piece of glass, but when he realized it was a real diamond, he rushed to give the good news to his father. When Jacob Jonker realized that what was in his hand  was actually a diamond, he went down on his knees and thanked God.

The Jonker diamond was purchased by Mr. Joseph Bastiaenen, agent for the Diamond Corporation Ltd. belonging to Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. The exact amount paid for the diamond was not disclosed, but was put at somewhere between £61,000 and £75,000.

The Jonker diamond was shipped by ordinary registered mail to the Diamond Corporations offices in London! Later the Jonker was offered for sale through the De Beers Central Selling Organization, which under the guidance of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer. Harry Winston, the New York based diamond dealer had shown an

Mr. Lazare Kaplan

interest in purchasing the Jonker. In 1935, Harry Winston instructed Hugo Prins to start negotiations with the Central Selling Organization, on the purchase of the Jonker diamond. After successful completion of the negotiations which lasted several weeks Mr. Winston purchased the Jonker for over £150,000.

The Jonker diamond eventually made it’s trans-Atlantic trip to Mr. Harry Winston’s office, in New York city.Mr. Harry Winston was determined to cut the Jonker diamond  in the United States, and he chose Mr. Lazare Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan was an outstanding cleaver and cutter, who had learned the craft of diamond cutting in Antwerp, Belgium.

The original rough Jonker diamond which weighed 726 carats was cut into 13 pieces,

The Jonkers

and eventually transformed into 13 diamonds of which the largest diamond weighing 142.90 carats retained the name Jonker. It was an emerald-cut, D-colour diamond, with 66 facets. The stone was later re-cut to eliminate some flaws and improve it’s brilliance. The re-cut stone, also an emerald-cut had 58 facets and weighed 125.35 carats. The Jonker I is one of the most perfectly cut diamonds in the world.

The Jonker Diamond

The Jonker I was purchased by King Farouk of Egypt in 1949, but the whereabouts of the diamond became a mystery after he was deposed and exiled in 1952. The diamond however re-appeared again after some years, and the new owner of the diamond was Queen Ratna of Nepal.

The last transaction of the Jonker I diamond was in 1977, when the diamond was sold privately in Hong Kong for a sum of U.S. $2,259,000, to an anonymous buyer. It is believed that the same anonymous buyer still owns the diamond today.


The Star of South Africa/The Dudley Diamond

The Star Of South Africa

The Star of South Africa, a 47.69-carat flawless pear-shaped diamond, is considered a symbol of South Africa’s great diamond prosperity. Legend has it that the Star of South Africa was exhibited at a session in Parliament shortly after its discovery in 1869, causing the Colonial Secretary to declare “This diamond, gentlemen, is the rock upon which the future prosperity of South Africa will be built.”

The Star of South Africa has gone down in history, as the diamond that turned the tides of fortune in South Africa, setting off a

Star of South Africa

diamond rush that eventually led to the discovery of the world famous Kimberley mines, and other diamond mines, that changed the course of history in South Africa forever, and created unforeseen and enormous economic prospects for the development of the country.

The stone was actually found by a Griqua Witch Doctor by the name of Swartbooi, on the Zanddfontein farm. Mr Van Niekirk, a prospector, approached the native who was holding the stone, and after satisfying himself that the stone may be a diamond, struck a barter deal with him, in which he acquired the stone in exchange for 500 sheep, 10 oxen, and a horse. It was practically all of Niekirk’s possessions.

In 1868Mr. Van Niekirk carried the stone to Messrs. Lilienfeld Brothers of Hopetown,

The Dudley Diamond

where they purchased the stone for £11,200, and christened it the “Star of South Africa”. Later they forwarded the diamond to England, where it was purchased by Louis Hond, a diamond cutter. It was cut and polished to a 47.69-carat pear-shaped three-sided stellar brilliant, that was eventually sold by the Queen’s Jewellers Messrs. Hunt & Roskell. The Earl of Dudley then purchased the diamond from the Queen’s Jewellers for £25,000. The Earl presented the diamond to his wife Countess of Dudley. The Earl of Dudley got the diamond mounted on a head ornament with 95 other small brilliants.  The diamond then became known as The Dudley Diamond after its new owners.

In 2005, it was exhibited as part of a display showing eight of the most incredible diamonds in the world – the crème de la crème of the diamond world. The present whereabouts of the diamond is not known.


The Guinea Star

The Guinea Star

When the 255-carat rough was discovered back in 1986, it was the largest diamond ever mined in the Republic of Guinea. And it created quite a sensation around the world. Invitations to bid on this incredible piece of rough were sent by the government of Guinea through their agent in Antwerp.

William Goldberg partnered with well-known Hong Kong jeweller Chow Tai Fook, with whom he had numerous successful joint ventures over the years. They bought the rough diamond for excess of $10million. At that time, it was the highest price ever paid at auction for a rough diamond. In fact, it was recorded in the Guinness Book

The Rough Guinea Star

of World Records.

It was hoped that the newly acquired rough would yield a 100-carat D Flawless diamond. But after extensive examination by the master cutters at William Goldberg, it was agreed that a substantial portion of the rough would be sacrificed to yield the most exquisite diamonds. It was simply a matter of adhering to Goldberg’s long-held philosophy – “Never maximize the weight of a stone at the expense of its beauty.”

What emerged from the rough was one of the most perfectly cut diamonds the world had ever seen – an enormous 89.01-carat D Flawless masterpiece. A rare, modified shield cut with seven sides, its unique shape is flattened, and the sides along the top are longer than usual – creating a larger, obtuse angle between them. Created along with the Guinea Star were an equally flawless 8.23-carat pear-shaped diamond and 5.03-carat heart-shaped diamond.

The creation of the Guinea Star was a testament to the vision and determination of Bill Goldberg. Further validation came when a buyer in Asia eventually purchased it from William Goldberg for over $10 million.  Where the Guinea Star resides today is a mystery.


The Porter Rhodes Diamond

The Porter Rhodes Diamond

The Porter Rhodes diamond gets it’s name from the American diamond prospector Porter Rhodes in whose claim in the Kimberley mines, the rough diamond of 153.50 carats was discovered in February 1880. At that time the diamond was valued at £200,000.

Porter Rhodes who had been working on his claim for sometime but on that eventful day, Rhodes was busy at the magistrate’s court, in connection with a case involving one of the native workers. Rhodes was released from the court and immediately went in search of his chief overseer, to get a briefing of what transpired at the mines. The overseer handed the stone to Mr Rhodes who knew it was a unique diamond.

The news of the discovery was made public only four months after the discovery. Rhodes made arrangement for the exhibition of the rough diamond. He charged one pound from any person who wanted to see the diamond and within a few hours he had

Porter Rhodes

collected over 500 pounds, which was handed over to the management committee of the hospital on the diamond fields.

Mr. Rhodes left Kimberley for London, with the intention of finding a royal customer for his exceptional find. He reached London in January 1881. However, he failed in his attempt to find a royal customer so exhibited the diamond in Bond Street during the winter of 1881.

The diamond was later faceted into a 73-carat old mine-cut, and sold to the famous jewellery firm Jerwood and Ward, who had the stone re-cut in Amsterdam to a 56.60-carat asscher-cut diamond. The London jewellery firm later sold the stone to the Maharajah of Indore, Tukoji Rao III.

Tukoji Rao III was a man of great wealth, and had a great collection of jewellery and diamonds, which included the “Indore Pears”. However, due to a scandal involving an exotic dander the Maharajah abdicated in favour of his son in 1926.

Porter Rhodes Ring Setting

The Maharajah had probably disposed of the Porter Rhodes, around this time, and in 1930, the second Duke of Westminister purchased the stone. It was acquired by Harry Winston in 1946, it was re-polished to 54.99 carats before being sold to a client from Philadelphia. Winston later repurchased it and sold it to another client in Texas. In 1987, the Porter Rhodes was bought by Graff Diamonds of London who got the stone slightly re-cut to it’s present weight of 54.04 carats. Graff has mounted the diamond on a platinum ring, which represents the current setting of the diamond.


The President Vargas

The President Vargas Diamond

The enormous Vargas rough diamond was discovered accidentally on August 13, 1938, when the diamond was picked up from the gravels of the San Antonio river in the Coromandel district of Minas Gerais, by two diamond diggers. The lucky finders of the stone were Joaquim Venancio Tiago and Manoel Miguel Domingues.

The lucky finders sold it to a diamond broker for $56,000. In their haste to sell, the finders of the diamond suffered a great loss, for within a short time the broker sold it at the enhanced price of $235,000. The diamond was then 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.

The diamond was then taken to Amsterdam  where it was kept in the safe deposit vault

The Rough President Vargas

of the Dutch Union Bank. Diamond dealer and jeweller of New York, Harry Winston, lost no time in taking a trip to Amsterdam. He initiated negotiations with the Dutch syndicate, 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 in order to minimize attention towards the precious item.

Harry Winston’s team of master cutters studied the rough diamond extensively and finally decided to cleave the diamond to many pieces in order to obtain several smaller diamonds of exceptional quality. The cutting of the diamond began in 1941. The diamond was first cleaved into two unequal large pieces, one 550 carats and the other 150 carats. Subsequent cleavings  followed, and eventually the

The President Vargas Diamond Ring

diamond was cut into 29 smaller pieces from which were faceted and polished, with the largest being 48.26 carats and retained the name President Vargas. The total weight of the finished diamonds was 411.06 carats, resulting in a loss of 43% of the original weight of the stone.

The 48.26-carat President Vargas diamond was purchased by the wife of Robert W. Windfohr of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1944, with whom it remained until 1958. Harry Winston re-purchased the diamond in 1958, and got it slightly re-cut to 44.17 carats, elevating the stone to internally flawless clarity grade. He sold the stone again in 1961 to an anonymous buyer. Presently the diamond is owned by Robert Mouawad, and forms part of his magnificent collection of famous, historic and rare diamonds.


The Jubilee

The Jubilee Diamond

This glorious colourless, cushion-shaped diamond has a weight of 245.35 carats. The original rough stone, an irregular octahedron weighed 650.80 carats; it was found in the Jagersfontein Mine towards the end of 1895. A consortium of London diamond merchants comprising the firms of Wernher, Beit & Co., Barnato Bros. and Mosenthal Sons & Co. acquired the Jubilee together with the Excelsior. At first the stone was named the Reitz in honor of Francis William Reitz, then president of the Orange Free State in which Jagersfontein is located.

In 1896 the consortium sent the diamond to Amsterdam where it was polished by M.B. Barends, under the supervision of Messieurs Metz. First, a piece weighing 40 carats or so was cleaved; the remaining large piece was then polished into the Jubilee. When during the cutting it became evident that a superb diamond of exceptional purity and

Side View of the Jubilee Diamond

size was being produced, it was planned to present it to Queen Victoria. In the end this did not happen and the diamond remained with its owners. The following year marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria so the gem was renamed the Jubilee to commemorate the occasion. In the world of diamonds the event was also marked by the introduction of of the Jubilee cut; this has the characteristics of both the brilliant and rose cuts in that the table is replaced by eight facets, meeting in the center, the total number of facets being increased to 88. This cut was short-lived and is not often encountered today.

In 1900 the consortium displayed the Jubilee at the Paris Exhibition. At the time it was valued at 7,000,000 francs. Shortly afterwards, the Indian philanthropist, Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata bought the diamond. Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata died in 1932.

In 1935 his heirs sent the Jubilee for sale at Cartier, who in December of that year mounted it in a display of historic diamonds. In 1937 Cartier sold the Jubilee instead to M. Paul-Louis Weiller, the Paris industrialist and patron of the arts. The diamond’s former setting was changed into a brooch with a number of diamond baguettes, resembling either a six-pointed star or a stylized turtle.

Mr. Robert Mouawad has since bought the Jubilee which is now the largest gem in his great collection. It has been graded as E-color, one grade away from completely colourless, and VVS2 clarity.


The Niarchos Diamond

Niarchos Diamond

May 22nd 1954, was a routine day of operations at the Premier mine, situated in Transvaal, South Africa, when suddenly workers realized that a large gem-quality diamond had appeared on the tables. A quick and casual inspection of the diamond revealed that this was indeed an exceptional find. Further extensive examination revealed that the rough stone was internally flawless and weighed 426.5 carats, but was slightly chipped at one end, attributed to the stone’s contact with the mine’s underground crusher.

The unnamed diamond was dispatched to New York. The diamonds reached the Idle Wild Airport, New

Niarchos Diamonds

York. on Feb 1st 1956. A customs broker at the airport delivered a brown paper bag containing the Niarchos to the Harry Winston Inc.

The next formidable task was the cutting of the rough stone. Finally after weeks of debating Mr. Harry Winston decided on a single large diamond. The final decision having been made, the team of cutters headed by Winston’s chief cleaver and cutter, Bernard de Haan, who set about the task of planning the cutting process. Bernard de Haan, was

involved in the project for an entire year, before it was finally completed. Finally a brilliant pear-shaped diamond weighing 128.25 carats, was fashioned out. The diamond had a total of 144 facets, 86 of which was around the girdle. The finished diamond was finally unveiled to the world on February 27th 1957.

Niarchos Stavros Spyros

The 128.25-carat diamond was then purchased by the Greek shipping magnate Niarchos Stavros Spyros for his then wife, formerly Charlotte Ford, for a reported $2 million. Niarchos Stavros owned the largest private shipping fleet in the world and was also the Brother-in-Law to the other famous Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. The marriage of Niarchos to Charlotte Ford eventually ended up in divorce, but Niarchos retained the diamond, which came to be known as the Niarchos Diamond. He was generous enough to lend the diamond to many exhibitions, and in 1966 the Niarchos returned to it’s country of origin, South Africa, for the famous Centennial “Jewel Box 1966″exhibition.

Stavros Niarchos died in April 1996, and since then the whereabouts of the diamond are unknown.


The Taj Mahal Diamond


Close up of the Taj Mahal Diamond

The Taj Mahal Diamond is a jewel of great renown. It features a heart-shaped, table-cut diamond, inscribed in Persian. This jewel is set into a larger heart-shaped white jadeite mount. The jadeite heart is decorated with gold, rubies, and diamonds. It was originally fashioned to hang from a silk cord around the neck of a Mughal queen.

Three inscriptions on the face of the diamond translate as follows: Nur Jahan Baygum-e Padshah; 23; and 1037 {1}. This lettering offers strong clues to the early history of the Taj Mahal Diamond. The jewel was the creation of the court of Emperor Jahangir Shah, who ruled the Mughal Empire in India from 1605 to 1627. The inscription reading 1037 is believed to be a date on the Islamic calendar, which correlates to 1627 AD. Some experts believe the jewel was commissioned as a love token from Emperor Jahangir to his favored wife, Nur Jahan. However, others suggest that Nur Jahan, who held court in place of her opium-addicted husband, may have ordered the jewel designed for herself. The 23 is thought by experts to mark the 23rd year of the Emperor’s reign. This proved to be the final year of the Emperor’s reign. If Empress Nur Jahan had a chance to wear the spectacular jewel, it was not documented.

Emperor Jahangir died in October, and by November 1627, his son, Shahryar, had ascended the throne at Lahore, at the bequest of Empress Nur Jahan. The former

The Shah Jahan & Mumtaz-i-Mahal

Empress was both stepmother and mother-in-law to the new monarch. However, in 1628, Shahryar was overthown by Shah Jahan who took his place upon the throne in Lahore, securing his rule over the entire kingdom.

During this time, the vast treasury of the Mughal Empire transferred to the new emperor. Scholars are certain that the jewel was acquired at some point during this transition by Shah Jahan’s most favored wife, Mumtaz-I-Mahal. Three years after becoming empress of the Mughal Empire, in the year 1631, Mumtal-I-Mahal died in childbirth. Shah Jahan spent the next 22 years in mourning and building the Taj Mahal for his wife to be buried in – he died in 1666.

The now renamed Taj Mahal Diamond remained in the Mughal treasury. It was passed from ruler to ruler until 1739. In May of that year, Nadir Shah, ruler of Persia, swept in and defeated the Mughal armies.

In 1857, British forces captured the city of Delhi. The emperor was placed under arrest, and the jewels of the Mughal treasury were cataloged for transport to England. Since the Taj Mahal Diamond did not find its way into the official registry, it’s believed that the

Taylor & Burton 1972

stone was pilfered by one of the British soldiers, who smuggled the jewel into Britain for his own purposes.

At some point, Cartier acquired the Mughal relic and fashioned for it a beautiful new setting of gold and rubies. Richard Burton purchased the glorious jewel as an early 40th birthday gift for his wife Elizabeth Taylor. She was overjoyed and wore it many times throughout her life.

In 1972, Cartier fashioned an elaborate heart-shaped case from gold in latticework enamel style. Into this beautiful case they set the original jadeite and diamond gem. The gem was originally outfitted with large gold loops through which Cartier strung the terminating ends of an exquisite golden rope fashioned to resemble the jewel’s original silk cord. On each side, the golden rope’s tiny ends flair out in miniature golden tassels capped with a single cabochon ruby.

The neck chain is unadorned all the way up both sides to form a golden lariat which

The Taylor setting of the Taj Mahal

terms in a gorgeous golden tassel emerging from a floret of gold, rubies, and diamonds. A sphere of gold, decorated with perhaps a dozen cabochon rubies, serves as an adjustable band allowing the pendant to be displayed at varying lengths. The individual strands of gold that form the larger tassel are each capped with a single cabochon ruby. The overall effect is Mughal splendor with a modern twist.

Elizabeth Taylor wearing the Taj Mahal

It remained in Elizabeth’s collection until shortly after her death on March 23, 2011. That December, Elizabeth Taylor’s Taj Mahal Diamond went under the hammer at Christie’s evening event called The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels. The sale took place on December 13, 2011, drawing a large crowd of collectors, designers, and spectators. The estimate of between $300,000 and $500,000 was eclipsed by a fierce bidding war which drove the price into the millions. By the time the hammer fell, the realized price for the gem was a staggering $8,818,500. It is not known who finally bought it.



Award Winning Jewellery

Runner up in Beads & Beyond Magazine's Jewellery Maker of the Year Competition 2012 - Chain Maille Category

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Post Categories

Blog Stats

  • 66,169 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: