STAR OF THE EAST
Nothing is known of either the source or the location of the cutting of this fine 94.80 carat, 'D' colored pear-shape. It is possible that the jewel-loving Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Adb al-Hamid II, may have once owned it. In the year before his deposition and exile in 1909, Cartier's in Paris definitely owned the ' Star of the East': it was mounted on a chain beneath a hexagonal emerald of 34 carats and pearl of 32 grains.
In the same year of 1908 a young American couple were on honeymoon in Paris, each of whom had received $100,000 from their respective fathers as a wedding present. Edward B.McLean was the heir to the dollar millions of several newspapers, including the Washing Post; his bride, Evalyn Walsh, was the daughter of a successful prospector who had made a fortune with his discovery of the Camp Bird gold mine in Dolorado. Mrs McLean was also a lover of jewels so was entranced when Pierre Cartier showed the 'Star of the East'. 'Ned', she said to her husband, 'it's got me. I'll never get away from the spell of this.' Her husband - who was unimpressed by jewels - replied, 'A shock might break the spell. Suppose you ask the price of this magnificence.' But the young bride refused to listen to him and purchased the 'Star of the East' for $120,000, in the process using up some of his paternal wedding money. Mrs McLean pointed out the diamond's merits as an investment and that she could tell her own father that it represented a double gift to cover both her wedding and Christmas presents.
Two years later, the McLean's returned to Paris and Mrs McLean began the negotiations which led to her eventual purchase of the 'Hope' Diamond. The two gems were to remain in her ownership for more than forty years, often being worn on the same necklace. On another occasion she was photographed wearing the 'Star of the East' as an aigrette with what appeared to be a feather from some exotic bird in a diamond bandeau: the 'Hope' lay somewhat lower as the pendant to a pearl necklace.
In 1949 Harry Winston bought both diamonds from the estate of Mrs McLean. Two years later he sold the 'Star of the East' and a fancy-colored oval-cut diamond to King Farouk of Egypt. By the time of the King's overthrow in 1952 Mr Winston had still not received payment for the two stones but three years later an Egyptian Government legal board, entrusted with the disposal of the former royal assets, ruled in his favor. Nevertheless it needed several years of litigation before he was able to reclaim the 'Star of the East' from a safe deposit box in Switzerland.
In 1969 Harry Winston sold the 'Star of the East', the new owner asking him to remount the gem as the pendant to a V - shaped diamond necklace to which two flawless, matching pear-shapes could be attached. The 'Star of the East' was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1978, at a reception marking the fiftieth anniversary of Harry Winston Inc.
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