The Woyie River Diamond/Victory Diamond
The Woyie River diamond is another large diamond from the famous diamond producing nation, Sierra Leone. The diamond weighing 770 carat was discovered on 6 January 1945. It was named after the river wherein it was found. The diamond was cut into 30 pieces, the largest gem was the Victory diamond which weighed 31.35 carats. It was the largest alluvial diamond ever found and the third largest diamond discovered in Africa after the discovery of Cullinan diamond and Excelsior diamond.
Cut from an exceptional rough of over 770 carats, the historic Victory Diamond was the largest and most significant diamond discovered in the 1940’s from the Woyie River in eastern Sierra Leone. The rectangular-cut
diamond of 31.34 carats, graded Type IIA and potentially internally flawless, was named ‘Victory’ in honor of the Allied victory in World War II.
This outstanding piece was first offered at Christie’s New York on 11 April 1984 as part of the collection of Florence J Gould, a social doyenne of the 20th century, as well as an avid art collector. The sale of Mrs. Gould’s jewelry collection realized $8 million, which was the highest total ever achieved at auction for a single collection of jewellery at the time — with the Victory diamond being one of the top three lots sold. This beautiful and legendary Victory Diamond came up for auction again at Christie’s in 2015 and realised $4,309,000 (£3,266,869).
The Star of the East Diamond
The Star of the East Diamond was part of the collection of jewels belonging to the Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, who ruled between 1876 and 1909. The exact circumstances under which the diamond came into the possession of the Sultan are not known. Even the origin of the name and at what point in it’s history it was christened, remains a mystery. The Star of the East weighed 94.80 carats in its finished state and probably twice as big in the rough state.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II ascended the throne on August 31, 1876, at a time when the Ottomans had earned the indignation of the Western Powers and Russia, for the suppression of the Bulgarian uprising. However Abdul Hamid II was deposed in 1909, following the military uprising of the “Young Turks”. Abdul Hamid’s brother Mehmed V was installed as the new Sultan. Just before the deposition of Sultan Abdul Hamid II some of
his jewels appeared in Paris for sale, and the Star of the East was one of these jewels.
Cartier’s of Paris put up the diamond for sale in 1908. It was around this time that Evalyn Walsh daughter of the multimillionaire miner and gold prospector Thomas Walsh got married to Edward Beale Mclean, heir to the Washington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer publishing fortune. Whilst on Honeymoon the couple then visited Cartier’s of Paris, and Pierre Cartier showed the diamond to Evalyn, which was mounted on a chain below a hexagonal emerald of 34 carats and a pearl of 32 grains. Evalyn purchased the diamond for $200,000, but no money was paid immediately. Being family friends Evalyn told Pierre Cartier her father would pay subsequently. Later when the couple arrived in
the United States, Evalyn had no money to pay the customs duty on the diamond and she smuggled the stone without paying duty!
It was three years later in 1911, when Evalyn and her Husband visited Paris again, that she purchased the infamous diamond, “the Hope”diamond for $180.000. The main reason why she decided to purchase “the Hope”, was because of it’s notorious past. She thought that things that were unlucky for everybody else would be lucky for her, because she thought she was an exception. But the curse of “the Hope”diamond seems to catch up with her later in life. She ran short of money and had to pawn her jewellery on several occasions.
Evalyn Walsh died in 1947, and her collection of jewels
including The Hope Diamond and the Star of the East was sold in 1949 to pay the debts of her estate. It was the New York Jeweler, Harry Winston, who purchased Mrs. McLean’s entire jewellery collection,
As for the Star of the East diamond, Harry Winston sold it to King Farouk of Egypt in 1951, just one year before his overthrown by Mohammed Neguib, who became the President of the newly formed United Arab Republic. Unfortunately for Harry Winston, he had not received payment from the King,
for the diamond purchased, which led to several years of litigation, until finally the Bank released the diamond to it’s rightful owner, Mr. Harry Winston.
In 1969, Harry Winston sold the Star of the East to an anonymous buyer, who requested that the diamond be remount as a pendant, to a diamond necklace with provision for attachment of two matching pear-shaped diamonds on either side.
In 1978, Harry Winston Inc. celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Subsequently Harry Winston re-purchased the Star of the East diamond from it’s owner, but the present whereabouts of the diamond are not known.
The Indore Pears
The Indore Pears, are pear-shaped, colourless diamonds, with a color grading of E, and clarity of VVS-2, and having weights of 46.39 and 44.14 carats. The Indore Pears were two almost identical, pear-shaped diamonds, originally weighing 46.95 carats and 46.70 carats, set as a pair of earrings, belonging to the Maharajah of Indore and worn by his Queen consort the Maharani. The early history of the two diamonds is unknown, but the color and clarity of the diamonds appear to be characteristic of the renowned Golconda diamonds, that were produced in the Kollur mines, near Golconda.
Tukoji Rao III, was the Maharajah of Indore at the beginning of the 20th century. The Prince had many concubines in his palace and one of his favorites was Mumtaz Begum, a Muslim dancing girl at his court but she did not reciprocate his feelings. One day, while the entourage of the Maharajah was traveling in his private train, Mumtaz jumped off the train and escaped to Amritsar. She eventually came back to Bombay as a mistress of a rich merchant.
While in Bombay, one evening in January of 1925, Mumtaz Begum was in a car with a friend. Suddenly a group of armed men attacked the car. Four British officers who happened to pass by at that crucial moment, were able to detain one assailant. The Indian Press gave wide coverage to the murder, and reported that evidence gathered by the police, indicated that the motive for the crime was not robbery, but rather revenge or
an attempt at abduction.
Mumtaz Begum said that she recognized one of the assailants as an aide-de-camp of the Maharajah of Indore, and others as members of the Indore army and mounted police. The British colonial authorities took a serious view of the implication of the Maharajah, and gave him two options; either to appear at the subsequent official inquiry or abdicate in favor of his son. The Maharajah chose the second option and abdicated in 1926.
After his abdication, Tukoji Rao, met a rich young
American lady, by the name of Nancy Anne Miller. They fell in love and got married in 1928. Nancy Anne came to be known as Maharani Shamista Devi Holkar. The Indore Pears diamonds were presented to Maharani Shamista Devi by the ex-Maharajah. However in 1946, the ex-Maharajah decided to sell the famous diamonds. They were purchased by the New York diamond dealer Mr. Harry Winston. The first thing Mr. Winston did, was to get the stones re-cut, the new weights of the stones were 46.39 and 44.14 carats. The pair of diamonds were later exhibited at the famous court of jewels exhibition organized by Mr. Harry Winston.
Mr. Winston sold the Indore Pears in 1953, to a customer from Philadelphia, and re-purchased them five years later in 1958. He then sold the Indore Pears to another customer from New York. He again re- purchased the stone in 1976 and later sold them to a member of a royal family. The stones later featured at two different auctions conducted by Christie’s of Geneva in November 1980 and later in November 1987. The Indore Pears diamonds are presently owned by Robert Mouawad who has added them to his rare and magnificent collection.
The Emperor Maximilian Diamond
The Emperor Maximilian diamond is a 41.94-carat, near colourless, cushion-cut diamond, with a VS-1 clarity. An important characteristic of the diamond is the strong blue (somewhat violet) fluorescence shown by the stone in natural daylight, which tends to reduce any yellow tinge in the diamond and make the diamond appear whiter.
The diamond is of Brazilian origin, and was purchased by Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, in 1860, when he made a trip to the Brazilian rain forests. It is not certain where the diamond was cut and polished, but in all probability it must have been in one of the diamond cutting centers in Europe, such as Antwerp or Amsterdam, as there were not many established diamond cutting centers in Brazil at the time.
Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph, who was born at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna on July
6th 1832, was the second son of Archduke Francis Charles of Austria and his wife Sophia, daughter of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. In 1851 at the age of 19, he joined the Austrian navy as a Lieutenant, and eventually became the Commander-in-Chief of the navy. He also served as the Governor-General of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. Subsequently he retired to a private life, residing at the Trieste with his young bride Princess Carlota, the daughter of King Leopold I of Belgium.
The first request for Maximilian Joseph to assume the throne of Mexico was made in 1859, by conservative Mexican exiles in Europe, who had lost their property and privileges and painted a picture of absolute anarchy in the country. Maximilian turned down this offer. However in 1863, the conservatives made him believe that the Mexican people had voted him their king, Maximilian Joseph consented to accept the Mexican Crown. Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, who was Maximilian Joseph’s brother, however advised him not to accept the offer. In spite of his objections Maximilian Joseph and his wife boarded a ship and landed at Veracruz on May 28, 1864. Subsequently on June 10, 1864, Maximilian Joseph was crowned as the emperor of Mexico.
However, war ensued and to cut a long story short on June 19, 1867, Emperor Maximilian, who was only 35 years old, and his two generals were executed by firing squad on a hill outside Quere-taro. So ends the sad story of Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph who met his tragic end, by being a willing pawn in the international power politics, that served the ulterior motives of certain nations and their rulers.
Soon after his execution it was discovered that Emperor Maximilian had been wearing the 41.94-carat diamond in a small satchel tied around his neck, when he faced the firing squad. After the execution the Emperor’s body was returned to his family in Vienna, and the diamond given to his widow. Poor Princess Carlota became mentally deranged. The princess remained mentally deranged until her death near Brussels in 1927, almost 60 years after the tragic incident. The
Emperor Maximilian diamond was sold in 1867, in order to pay for the medical expenses of the princess. Since then the whereabouts of the diamond was unknown, until it reappeared in America in 1919, when it was purchased by a Chicago gem dealer, Ferdinand Hotz.
During his ownership of the diamond since 1919, there had been several offers by interested individuals to purchase the diamond, but Ferdinand Hotz refused to part with it. However after his death in 1946, it was sold to an anonymous private collector in New York City. The Emperor Maximilian diamond then came into the possession of Laurence Graff.
The next transaction of the Maximilian diamond took place in 1983, when the diamond was sold by Graff to an anonymous buyer. According to rumors the diamond was actually purchased by Imelda Marcos the wife of the former President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. In 2010 the diamond ring was sold at Christie’s for USD $1,762,500 (£1,336,239).
The Star of Stanley Ho
Named the Star of Stanley Ho, the Angola-mined stone measures 39.8mm by 36.2mm and 17.8mm high. The original stone that produced the Star of Stanley Ho weighed 570 carats, and it took one year to cut and polish it.
Sold in 2007 by renowned jeweller, Robert Mouawad, this splendid diamond was named “The Star of Stanley Ho, Grand Lisboa, Macau” to give tribute to Dr. Stanley Ho’s contributions to the development of the gaming industry of Macau. The largest, flawless, cushion diamond in the
world, at that time, weighing 218.08 carats and graded by the Gemological Institute of America as a D-IF with excellent polish and symmetry.
This remarkable diamond now belongs to the Property of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A. (SJM) and is on public display at Casino Grand Lisboa. Dr Ho says “the diamond represents a timeless quality that reflects SJM’s timeless commitment to Macau and its people”. Robert Mouawad says, “Each diamond is unique
and has its own personality traits.”
The carat weight, quality grade and the immortal character are all factors that contribute to the overall beauty of a stone, but it is the human touch from the rough to polished stage that unveils its beauty and mystique.” Mouawad continues, “it was a distinct privilege to be a part of this diamond’s history and I am delighted to turn its legacy over to the next owner.”
The exact price paid for the diamond is not known but Ho said he purchased it for hundreds of millions.
The Spoonmaker’s Diamond/Kasikci Diamond
The Cullinan Heritage Diamond/A Heritage in Bloom Necklace
In 2009 Petra Diamonds announced the discovery of a white 507.55 carat diamond at its Cullinan mine in South Africa. The diamond is reportedly of “exceptional” colour and clarity and is to be named The Cullinan Heritage. “This spectacular and historic gem has been named to reflect the date of its recovery on Heritage Day in South Africa (September 24, 2009), as well as its origins
from the illustrious Cullinan mine, which has produced the majority of the world’s most famous and important diamonds,” Johan Dippenaar stated.
The Cullinan Heritage will be tendered in Johannesburg. Petra will announce the diamond’s sales value following the tender’s completion at the end of February.
In 2010 Hong Kong luxury jeweller purchased the massive diamond for $35.3 million (£26,762,700). The rough diamond
yielded 24 D-flawless gems including a perfect 104-carat round brilliant. Chow Tai Fook created an an incredible necklace designed from the twinkling progeny of the 507.55-carat Cullinan Heritage rough diamond. The museum-quality piece is appropriately called “A Heritage in Bloom.”
Chow Tai Fook enlisted the legendary talents of jewellery artist Wallace Chan to assemble the family of “Heritage” diamonds — and a supporting cast of 11,500
addition precious gemstones — into an unforgettable work of art that is estimated to be
worth at least $200 million (£151,630,030)! The diamond total weight of the piece is a staggering 383.4 carats.
Chan’s vision was finally realized after 47,000 man hours spanning 11 months. Chan led a team of 22 artisans though an extraordinary design challenge that utilized every one of the Heritage diamonds in a necklace that can be worn 27 different ways. Surprising variations are achieved by removing certain sections and replacing them elsewhere, or removing them completely.
At the unveiling of the necklace, Dr. Henry Cheng, chairman of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Limited said “Today we complete a journey we began five years ago, and we could not be more proud of the exceptional and historic creation that has emerged. Continuing the Cullinan legend, the world-renowned master jewellery artist Wallace Chan has brought the Cullinan diamonds to life.”
In addition to the white diamonds, Chan utilized 72 pieces of white jade, 114 pieces of green jadeite and nearly 600 pink
diamonds. Around the 104-carat diamond is a circle of white jade to symbolize the confluence of east and west cultures. Chan’s design also included two diamond-studded bats (for good fortune) and two colourful diamond butterflies (for eternal love).
Chow Tai Fook has no immediate plans to sell the necklace. A company representative explained that the piece symbolizes the heritage of the Chow Tai Fook family and the Chinese people as a whole.