FAMOUS BROWN DIAMONDS

 

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The Golden Jubilee

The "Unnamed Brown", as the Golden Jubilee was first known is a fancy yellow brown with an unknown clarity grade and is the largest faceted diamond in the world, weighing 545.67 ct. Since 1908, the Cullinan I, had held the title, which changed following the 1985 discovery of a large brown diamond of 755.5 ct. (the stone's rough weight) at the DeBeers Premier mine in Transvaal, South Africa.

The stone was designed by Gabi Tolkowsky, who also designed the 273.85 ct. Centenary Diamond, which is the largest D-Flawless diamond in the world. The Premier mine was also the origin of the Cullinan diamonds in 1905, as well as other notables such as the Taylor-Burton in 1966 and the Centenary in 1986.

The Golden Jubilee got his name when it was presented to the King of Thailand in 1997 for his Golden Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of his coronation. The diamond was brought to Pope John Paul II in the Vatican to receive the papal blessing. It was also blessed by the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch and the Supreme Imam in Thailand.

Trivia Tidbit: The government of Thailand reported the stone as being a large golden topaz so as not to irritate the citizens -- Thailand has been in financial trouble for some years now, and the news of the purchase of the massive diamond would only make the popularity of the government drop.

The Golden Jubilee diamond is now located in the Royal Thai Palace as part of the crown jewels.

 

 

 

The Golden Maharaja

The Golden Maharaja diamond is a modified pear shape stone weighing 65.57 ct., the colour is fancy dark orange brown and Gemological Institute of America has graded the clarity as VS2.

It is believed the stone emanates from South Africa; however few details are known regarding its origin, date of discovery, and original owners. Similarly, the reason for its being named the Golden Maharaja is unknown.

It first appeared cut and polished when it was first exhibited at the Paris World Fair, in 1937. From 1975 to 1990, the diamond was loaned by its owner Mrs. Ella Friedus to the American Museum of Natural History. It is reported that Mrs. Friedus sold the diamond in 1991 for 1.3 Million USD. The diamond was put up for auction again in 2006 at Sotheby's New York where it achieved a record price of,382,400 USD.

 

 

 

The Great Chrysanthemum

The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond weighs 104.15 ct. with a pear shaped modified brilliant cut, rated in colour as fancy orange brown and I1 clarity by the Gemological Institute of America.

The diamond's origins are in South Africa, where it was bought by the jeweler Julius Cohen as a 198.28 ct. rough in 1963. After buying it, Cohen returned to New York where he had it cut into its distinctive pear shape by S&M Kaufman. The diamond was then mounted as the centerpiece of a necklace (as pictured on left), consisting of marquise, pear, and round shaped diamonds

Because of its colouring similarities to the brown chrysanthemum, it was named after that flower.

The Great Chrysanthemum has been shown in a number of diamond exhibits throughout the United States. In 1965, the Chrysanthemum was named a winner of one of the Diamonds International Awards and was placed on display in the Rand Easter Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. Julius Cohen later sold the diamond to an unknown and reputedly foreign buyer. It was later purchased by Garrards of London around 2003.

 

 

 

The Kimberley Diamond

The Kimberley diamond is a flawless, 70 ct., step cut, champagne coloured diamond that was found in the Kimberley Mine, South Africa.

It was re-cut into this modern shape in 1921 from a large, flat stone that was once in the Russian Crown Jewels. In 1958, the stone was again re-cut by its owners, Baumgold Bros., New York City, to improve the proportions and increase brilliancy.

It now weighs 55.09 carats and was valued by the firm at $500,000 USD, although as Baumgold Bros. sold the stone in 1971 to an undisclosed collector it is worth considerably more today.

 

 

 

The Star of The South

The 128.48 ct. Star of the South is one of the world's most famous diamonds. Discovered in 1853, it became the first Brazilian diamond to receive international acclaim. The stone was graded as VS2 in clarity and fancy light pinkish brown in colour. It was also determined to be a type IIa diamond.

In 1853 a slave woman while working in the Bagagem Diamond Mines in Brazil discovered a 261.88-carat diamond. For honestly turning the stone in, she was rewarded not only her freedom but in addition a pension for the rest of her life.

The rough stone passed through many hands before it was sold to Costers of Amsterdam for $35,000 and cut to a 128.48-carat stone losing over half its original weight. The cutting cost was $2500. It was cut into a cushion-shaped stone with a faint pinkish-brown hue.

It was purchased by Halphen & Associates of Paris and was given the name the Star of the South. They displayed the stone at the London Exhibition in 1862, and in Paris in 1867 making it quite famous. At this time, the syndicate was offered £110,000 by an unknown Indian rajah, but the offer was declined. Later, for reasons not divulged, it was sold to Mulhar Rao, the Gaekwar of Baroda, for £80,000, or about $400,000.

Khande Roe, Gaekwar of Baroda, had the necklace (as pictured on left) made to display both the
Star of the South (circled in red) and the 78.5-carat English Dresden below it. The photo is circa 1880.

Sometime around 1999, The Gemological Institute of America was allowed to examine, grade and photograph the large diamond. Cartier bought the stone from Rustomjee Jamsetjee of Bombay, India around 2002.

 

 

 

The Ashberg

It is said that this amber-coloured, cushion shaped diamond weighing 102.48 ct., was formerly part of the Russian Crown Jewels. It must have been a late addition to that collection because the stone bears all the characteristics of one from South Africa. In 1934 the Russian Trade Delegation sold the diamond to Mr. Ashberg, a leading Stockholm banker. The Stockholm firm of Bolin, former Crown Jewellers to the Court of St. Petersburg, mounted it as a pendant. In 1949 the Ashberg was displayed, mounted in a necklace containing diamonds and other gemstones, at the Amsterdam Exhibition, the aim of which was to attract new workers to the diamond industry.

Ten years later the Bukowski auction house in Stockholm put the Ashberg up for sale but it failed to reach its reserve and was withdrawn. Then its owner succeeded in selling the gem to a private buyer whose name was not revealed. Finally, in May, 1981, Christies auctioned the diamond in Geneva where once again it failed to reach its reserve and was withdrawn.

 

 

 

The Thompson Diamonds

The Thompson diamond pendant and earrings are set in platinum and were designed by Harry Winston, Inc. In 1956, Winston purchased a rough brown diamond of 264 ct. from the Diamond Trading Co. of Antwerp, Belgium. In the spring of 1957, the rough was cut in to three stones weighing 36.73 ct, 20.46 ct and 19.12 ct.

The pendant features the 36.73 ct pear shaped fancy brown diamond and is surrounded by 33 pear shaped colourless diamonds that total 9.03 carats. The two smaller stones were set in the matching earrings accented with 72 pear shaped colourless diamonds that total 10.75 ct. The fancy coloured diamonds are a beautiful yellowish brown colour, sometimes referred to as “cognac”.

Mrs. Thompson purchased the pendant and earrings from Harry Winston, Inc. in 1957 during the time that they were being produced. The Thompson Diamonds were a bequest in 1990 and are on display in the Gem Hall at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.