The subject of today's claddagh ring blog is the RED CROSS DIAMOND.



This canary-coloured square diamond weighs 205.07 (metric) carats. It is said to have weighed 375 carats in the rough and to have come from the De Beers Company's mines in 1901. The largest stone found that year weighed only 307 carats but two more, weighing 337 1/2 and 363 carats, were found in the De Beers Mine in 1899. Whichever may be incorrect, the date of discovery or the rough weight, there is no doubting the fact that the 'Red Cross' is a typical South African diamond.

The original syndicate of dealing firms who bought the output of De Beers presented the diamond as a gift to the art sale held in London by Christie's in April 1918 on behalf of the British Red Cross Society and the order of St John. The stone had been cut in Amsterdam: The Times Wrote:

Large and square-shaped, it has been cut with many facets and is of that pale canary yellow colour which is so much sought after by Indian Princes. The play of the stone is very vivid. In artificial light it is much more luminous than a white stone. After exposure to brilliant light it emits the rays it has absorbed, and thus becomes self-luminous in the dark. Another rare feature is that a Maltese Cross is distinctly visible in the top facet. Hence the double appropriateness of its name, the Red Cross Diamond.

The 'Red Cross' was the highlight of the third day of the sale which brought £35,575 out of the total proceeds of £52,238. It was reported that:

The hope expressed by the auctioneer that this jewel would fetch 'a price worthy of its name' was fulfilled. The first bid was £3000, from which a quick advance was made to £6000. It was taken to £8000: from that to £10,000. The diamond was knocked down to S.J. Philips. On behalf of the anonymous purchaser they state, that he is willing to hold the diamond for one month at the purchase price of £10,000, at the disposal of any buyer who will guarantee to hand it back to the British Red Cross Society and the order of St John to be used as the societies think best for the benefit of their funds.

In due course it was stated that a member of a European Royal family bought the 'Red Cross'; however it was not he, but an undisclosed American businessman who put it up for sale half a century later. In June 1973 the stone was auctioned in Tokyo but as the highest bid only reached £820,000 it was withdrawn from sale. The auctioneers had expected it to be sold for £2,000,000. Since then the diamond has 'been around a bit', that is, most of the diamond trade have been aware that it on the market and many have viewed it. In November 1973, Christie's put it up for sale in Geneva. It was then deposited in Switzerland before being put up for sale again in 1977.

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