The Queen of Holland
There are differing opinions concerning the origin of this 135.92-carats cushion-cut diamond. The Dutch firm F. Friedman & Co. cut it into its present shape in 1904. They owned it for several years, exhibiting it at the 1925 Paris Exhibition of Arts and Industry. The Dutch sovereign from whom the stone takes its name was Queen Wilhelmina, who reigned from 1890 to 1948.
This suggests the possibility that the Queen of Holland was mined in South Africa, but nothing is known of the diamond’s earlier history until it arrived in Amsterdam at a time when numerous South African diamonds were finding their way there. Yet there are experts who think that the Queen of Holland is a typical Golconda stone.
The Maharajah of Nawanagar purchased the Queen of Holland and Cartier set it as the centerpiece of the pendant to the magnificent ceremonial necklace of the Prince. Jacques Cartier,
who assembled the necklace, referred to it as “a really superb realization of a connoisseur’s dream.”
Cartier eventually bought the diamond from the Maharajah’s family and sent it to their London branch in 1960. Thirty years later, it was sold for a reported $7,000,000. The Queen of Holland is now owned by Robert Mouawad.
The Mouwad Splendor
The Mouawad Splendor is the 7th largest diamond in the Mouawad’s rare and unique collection of diamonds, and is made even rarer for its 11-sided girdle, its D-color (completely colourless) and its flawless clarity. True to its name, the Splendor is one of the rarest diamonds in the world, weighing 101.84 carats and valued at an estimated $13,970,000 US dollars (£10,436,288).
In 2003, the Mouawad Splendor was set in the Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Fantasy bra, and received the Guinness World Record for the most luxurious and expensive piece of lingerie ever made at $11 million USD (£8,217,550). The 5th Victoria’s Secret Fantasy Bra was presented to the world on 1st November 2005,
by the Brazilian beauty and international star, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who wore the bra, together with a pendant necklace. The Sexy Splendor Fantasy Bra features a delicate floral design made out of 18-carat white gold with over 2,900 pavé-set diamonds weighing 108.37 carat and 22 rubies weighing 38.25 carat. The focal point was the Mouawad Splendor Diamond. The necklace made of 18-carat white gold had a single ruby-centered diamond flower pendant. The whole set-up had a price tag of $ 12.5 million (£9,338,125) placed on it.
The Mouawad Splendor remains as a spectacular part of the vast Mouawad diamond collection – one of the largest in private hands.
The diamond is named for Banjarmasin, an island city in the Borneo region of what was to become Indonesia. During the period ranging from the 15th to 19th centuries this area enjoyed a well renowned reputation not only as a center for trading the extraordinary gems coming out of India but also for the ones found locally that are prized for their rare colors and exceptional brilliance. Colonized by the Dutch, Government of the Netherlands maintained a presence in Borneo (Dutch East Indies) supporting a sultanate for centuries.
Our diamond’s story starts with an expedition to Banjarmasin by Dutch scientists in 1835. The Sultan was bedecked in fine silks and adorned with fabulous jewels. Further more, they discover the coffers of the Sultan are filled with such diamonds, precious gems and gold jewellery. Additional rumors have the Sultan’s first wife owning so many diamonds that she stores them in overflowing wine bottles! The Dutch had their eyes on all that native owned wealth and finally acted in 1859 to relieve them of it, dissolving the sultanate, confiscating the Sultan’s treasure, and – by 1862 – shipping the entire inventory to the homeland.
With their ill-gotten treasure now securely stored in the Netherlands, the Dutch government went about the task of inventorying the Sultan’s former jewels. Among the spoils they found a rough diamond weighing 70 carats. Immediately named the
Banjarmasin, it was decided to send the impressive sized diamond to the Museum of Natural History for display. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the museum’s board of directors rejects the specimen! After recovering from the rebuke, the Minister for the Colonies attempts to sell the diamond. To his amazement he finds that no one wants to purchase it! Believing it’s the stone’s size that is scaring off suitors, the diamond is submitted to the firm of E. and J. Vital Israels for cutting. The result produces a squarish-shaped 40 carat white diamond. To the Minister’s chagrin, the reduced sized diamond still does not attract a buyer.
The Banjarmasin was finally put on display at a jewel exhibition where it was viewed by 23,000 people. It was then stored away for many years in a vault unviewed by anyone. It is not until 2001 that the Banjarmasin finally reappears, this time at the exhibition “Diamants” at the Muséum National d’Historie Naturelle in Paris. Since that time it has been publicly displayed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
The Nassak Diamond
The Nassak diamond is a 43 carat diamond, discovered in India in the 15th century. Originally it weighed over 90 carats, but was re-cut several times over the years, most recently in 1940. It is an elongated triangular shape, with rounded corners, and described at the 1933 World’s fair in Chicago as the finest diamond in the world outside of royal collections. In 1964 the GIA graded it as internally flawless.
It was set in a statue of Shiva in Nashik, India, up until 1817, when it was sold to Rundell and Bridge, a British jeweller, for £3,000. They held onto it for 13 years, during which
time they re-cut it, down to 78 carats. The cutter was instructed, as far as possible, to follow the shape and form of the original stone. They sold it to the Emanuel Brothers in 1831, and six years later they sold it to Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marques Westminster, who mounted it into the handle of the dress sword of the 1st Marques of Westminster. Its value at this stage was between thirty and forth thousand pounds sterling. The large gain in value was attributed to the gain in brilliance following the re-cutting.
In 1927 it was imported into America in 1927, which provoked a number of lawsuits as to whether it was an artistic antique (hence tax-free), or a diamond for use in jewellery (which would have had a 20% tax). The latter was ultimately found to be the case!
In 1929 it was nearly stolen when the Park Avenue store it was in was robbed; it would have been taken except that it was stored in a soiled envelope. It was again almost robbed in 1930, in similar circumstances, but was missed a second time.
In 1940 was bought by Harry Winston, and in 1944 Mrs. William B. Leeds of New York received the gem in a ring as a sixth anniversary present. The Nassak Diamond was last sold at an auction in New York in 1970 to Edward J. Hand, a 48-year-old trucking firm executive from Greenwich, Connecticut. He paid 500,000 dollars, at that time the second highest price ever paid for a diamond at auction at that time.
The Polar Star Diamond
The Polar Star diamond has an eight-pointed star on its lower pavilion and a 2mm flat culet. The symmetry of the cut is so exact that this loose diamond can be balanced upright on its (point) culet. This is an Indian diamond, from Golconda, and has been described as: “the brightest diamond ever seen”. The cut weight is 41.28 carat in a very well-shaped oval configuration.
First owned by Joseph Bonaparte, eldest brother of Napoleon, who once ruled Naples and then Spain (1806-1813) the Polar Star was sold into Russia sometime around 1820.
The diamond belonged to the Yusupov family, one of the richest and most influential
names in all of Russia. There is a strong family connection with the strange and mysterious Raspoutin, a Russian courtier and religious leader, who was credited with curing the ills of the daughter of Empress Alexandria and Czar Nicholas II. Raspoutin gained power and influence over most of Russia’s political decisions.
Prince Felix Yusupov became alarmed about this unwanted political interference and plotted to kill Raspoutin. On December 16, in 1916, the prince invited Raspoutin to dinner and poisoned his wine. When the poison failed to take his life, the conspirators shot him and threw his body into the River Neva. Felix fled Russia and took several
notable diamonds with him. He hid his treasures in secret sealed vaults that were concealed since 1917. A mason who had originally worked on the dungeons led to their discovery less than a decade later. Felix was somehow able to broker the Polar Star to Cartier in 1924.
The Polar Star diamond changed hands several times and was last purchased by a gem dealer from Sri Lanka for 8 million Swiss francs in 1980. The Polar Star reappeared at Christie’s for auction on 16 April 2008 where it fetched $6,873,000.
Star of Sierra Leone Diamond
The Star of Sierra Leone diamond was discovered on February 14, 1972, in the Diminco alluvial mines in the Koidu area of Sierra Leone. Diminco is the abbreviated form of the state sponsored Diamond Mining Company. The enormous diamond had a weight of 969.8 carats and was the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever to be discovered in Sierra Leone.
The rough diamond was purchased by the world renowned diamond dealers and jewelers Harry Winston Inc. of New York, in the same year it was discovered. The cutting of the diamond was entrusted to Lazare Kaplan the master cutter and cleaver who had descended from three generations of jewelers and had previously earned the distinction of cutting famous diamonds like the Jonker diamond in 1936.
The diamond was cleaved into 17 pieces, which were transformed into 17 diamonds, out of which, 13 diamonds were flawless “top color”diamonds. The largest piece which was a “top color”diamond of 143.20 carats was however flawed, and was again re-cut to a flawless pear-shaped diamond of 53.96 carats. Six of the “Star of Sierra Leone”diamonds were later set by Harry Winston in the famous “Star of Sierra Leone”brooch. The brooch was put up for auction on 15th May 2017 at Sotherby’s where it sold for £943,361.
The Sefadu Rough Diamond
The Sefadu was discovered in 1970 in Sefadu, Sierra Leone. The Sefadu is an uncut diamond weighing 620 carats which easily makes it one of the worlds’ largest diamonds.
In the present time the Sefadu is the world’s biggest rough diamond, and the seventh biggest diamond to be discovered. Although its value would greatly increase once it is cut and polished, its owner Lazare Kaplan has chosen to keep it in its original state as a mineral specimen.
The (Wallace) McLean Diamond Ring
Evalyn Walsh McLean (August 1, 1886 – April 26, 1947) was an American mining heiress and socialite who was famous for being the last private owner of the 45-carat Hope Diamond, as well as another famous diamond, the 94-carat Star of the East. She also owned a 31.26 carat cushion cut diamond which became known as the ‘McLean’.
Mrs McLean suffered many misfortunes in her life and famously pawned her famous jewels many times. Despite her misfortunes, on her death in 1947 she left no fewer than 74 items of jewellery. They included the four named diamonds – the Hope, the Star of the East, the Star of the South and the McLean. In 1949 Harry Winston bought the entire
collection from Mrs McLean’s executors and the McLean diamond became part of his famous Court of Jewels.
In 1959 Harry Winston sold the McLean diamond Duke of Windsor (formerly King Edward VIII) who gifted it to the Duchess. It was to become the most important item in her collection. The ring was then sometimes referred to as the Wallace McLean diamond ring. The Duchess, the former Mrs Wallis Simpson, owned it until her death in 1986. The sale of the jewels of the Duchess of Windsor was held by Sotherby’s in 1987. The sale held in Geneva, realised $45,000,000, more than
seven times the pre-sale estimate.
The pre-sale estimate for the McLean diamond ring was between 1,250,000 and 1,500,000 Swiss francs. It fetched 4,730,000 Swiss francs! The buyer of the diamond was a Japanese gentleman, Mr Takagi, of the Heiwado Trading Company. Afterwards he said he had bought the McLean ” for the romance it represents, for the extraordinary quality of the diamond and for the good cause which the money will go towards – the fight against AIDS”. I have found no information regarding the ring since the sale in 1987 so I presume Mr Takagi still owns it.