Claddagh Ring Blog - Famous Diamonds



There are differing points of view concerning the place of origin of this remarkable cushion-cut diamond of 135.92 metric carats. The Dutch firm F. Friedman & Co. cut into its present shape in 1904. They owned it for at least twenty years because they were its exhibitors 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.

These facts indicate the likelihood of the 'Queen of Holland' having been mined in South Africa; 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, after examining it, think that the 'Queen of Holland' is a typical Golconda stone. It has been classified as an 'intense blue': Although it is a white diamond it does possess a definite blue tint, rather like the colour of cigarette smoke. The Gemological Institute of America has graded the 'Queen of Holland' as 'internally flawless' and 'D' colour; the only larger diamond which has been classified thus is the 'Premier Rose'.

Whether or not the 'Queen of Holland' came from the Golconda fields, it does have an Indian connection for sure, because in 1930 it attracted the attention of Shri Kumar Ranjitsinhji, the Maharajah of Nawanagar (1872-1933). He made his name first as a great cricketer then as an enlightened ruler. After coming down from Cambridge, he played for Sussex (captaining the county from 1899 to 1903), and no less than fifteen times for England verses Australia. It has been recorded that whenever he batted 'he evoked an atmosphere of magic by the effortless grace and speed with which he scored runs' - qualities which, almost a century later, are found in abundance in so many of his countrymen's performances. After Ranjitsinhji of Nawanagar in 1906 he become a progressive ruler and statesman. He represented the Indian States at the League of Nations. He represented the Indian States at the League of Nations Assembly in 1920 and ten years later he attended the first Round Table Conference to consider the constitution of India.

The Maharajah's interest in the 'Queen of Holland' diamond was aroused in 1930. In his book 'The magic of Diamonds' Albert Monnickendam relates how he received a telephone call from the Prince's Court Jeweller asking him to visit the Maharajah at his magnificent house at Staines, outside London. After lunch he accompanied the Maharajah to a large room flooded with north light from a bay window. As well as the Maharajah, his ADC, the Court Jeweller and a powerfully built servant in Indian clothes were present. Mr Monnickendam has written:

The reason for my attendance was soon explained. A very important diamond had been offered to Ranji Singh for purchase; and although he was a keen judge himself, and had already consulted several experts, he wished to have a final opinion before making a decision. In his native tongue he spoke a few words to his servant, who quickly extracted from a safe a large gold jewel box. His Highness asked me to sit near him and to my amazement opened the lid of the box and took out a magnificent diamond of about 130 carats set in a pendant. He placed it my hands asking. 'What do you think of this?'

On examination I found the stone to be absolutely perfect, of the finest colour and quality. In fact it resembled the famous Regent diamond in every way. Whilst I was examining the diamond, I felt the Maharajah's eyes continually watching me, and when I looked up there was an expression of pleasure and hope on his face. It was obvious that he was greatly fascinated by the stone. When I told him that it was one of the finest diamonds in the world, and that it must be a famous stone, he told me that it came from the Russian crown jewels, but did not mention its name.... When I was asked its value I put it at approximately £250,000, though no true market price can be given for such a stone......

The Maharajah of Nawanagar did purchase the 'Queen of Holland' and Cartier's set it as the centrepiece of the pendant to the stunning 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's eventually bought the diamond from the Maharajah's family and sent it to their London branch in 1960 where it was on offer. In 1978 Mr William Goldberg of New York purchased the diamond and had it recut from its former weight of 136.25 carats to its existing weight. He sold it the same year for around $7,000,000.

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