This splendid colourless, cushion-cut diamond with a weight of 245.35 carats ranks as the third largest in the world, being surpassed only by the two principal gems cut from the 'Cullinan'.
The original rough stone, in shape an irregular octahedron without definite faces, weighed 650.80 (metric) carats; it was found in the Jagersfontein Mine towards the end of 1895. A syndicate of London diamond merchants comprising the firms 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 honour of Francis William Reitz, then President of the Orange Free State in which Jagersfontein is situated.
In 1896 the syndicate sent the diamond to Amsterdam where it was polished by M.B. Barends, under the supervision of Messrs. Metz. First a piece weighing 40 carats or so was cleaved; this yielded a fine, clean pear-shape of 13.34 carats which was purchased by Dom Carlos 1 of Portugal as a gift for his wife. The whereabouts of this gem is unknown today. The remaining large piece was then polished into the 'Jubilee'. When during the cutting it became clear that a truly excellent diamond of exceptional size and purity was being produced. It was planned to present it to Queen Victoria. In the end this did not actually 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 mark the occasion. In the world of diamonds the event was also marked by the introduction of the Jubilee-cut; this has the characteristics of both the rose and brilliant cuts in that the table is replaced by eight star facets, the total number of facets being increased to eighty-eight. It is not often found today.
In 1900 the syndicate displayed the 'Jubilee' at the Paris Exhibition where it was one of the centres of attraction. It was then valued at 7,000,000 francs. Soon afterwards Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata bought the diamond. He was the Indian industrialist and philanthropist who laid the foundation of his country's iron and steel industry; these and cotton mills founded by his father formed the cornerstone of modern India's economic development.
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