Friday, July 9, 2010

The Emperor Maximilian Diamond

A fascinating piece of history. To quote:
At an early age, Maximilian developed a keen interest in the sciences, particularly botany and he was fascinated by the New World. In 1860, he journeyed to the tropical forests of Brazil on a botanical expedition. While there, he acquired two exceptionally large diamonds which have been named after him: The Emperor Maximilian Diamond and The Maximilian Diamond. The Emperor Maximilian was a 41.94 carat antique cushion-cut diamond with a strong blue fluorescence which gives the diamond a soft luminosity in daylight. The second diamond was of a greenish-yellow tint and weighed 33 carats. After his return to Europe, Maximilian presented this smaller diamond to Charlotte, who wore it as a pendant. It is not known where either diamond was cut but it is possible that they were cut in Brazil, which has long possessed a diamond cutting industry, albeit on the smaller scale than in some other countries...
...Legend holds that Maximilian was wearing the Emperor Maximilian Diamond in a small satchel tied around his neck when he faced the firing squad. Following the execution, his remains were sent to Vienna and the Emperor Maximilian Diamond returned to Charlotte. Upon news of his death, Charlotte’s condition worsened and she shut herself off from the outside world. The diamond was subsequently sold to help pay for expenses during Charlotte’s illness and it disappeared until 1919 when it returned to America. Maximilian’s widow lived on for another sixty years, hopelessly insane, dying in January 1927 in Brussels at the age of 86. Even in her final days, some say she still believed herself to be the Empress of Mexico.
In 1919, the Emperor Maximilian Diamond was purchased by a Chicago gem dealer, Ferdinand Holtz and was displayed in the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair as the highlight of the 'Century of Progress' exhibition. Despite several offers to buy it, Mr. Holtz refused to sell the diamond and it remained in his possession until his death in 1946. It was subsequently sold to a private collector in New York.
The name of the new owner has never been revealed and the diamond remained in her possession, mounted in a ring by Cartier, until Christie’s auctioned it in New York in 1982. It was expected that diamond would fetch $330,000 but it eventually sold for $726,000 to Laurence Graff, the London jeweler, who has a vast collection of notable and historic diamonds. In January 1983, Graff sold The Emperor Maximilian, together with two other important diamonds, in a single transaction to the same buyer, Madame Imelda Marcos, wife of the President of the Philippines. Subsequently, it was sold and re-cut in the 1990’s, to its current weight of 39.55 carats, and finally it was acquired by the present owner.


MadMonarchist said...

That is interesting, I'd never heard of those before. If only those rocks could talk -what stories they could tell. I imagine all the different people who held them and going from Brazil to Italy to Mexico to Belgium to the Philippines, to the USA etc, those diamonds have really been around the world!

radical royalist said...

Thank you for this most interesting article. There are many new details that emerge on Emperor Maximilian.

Matterhorn said...

I hope to delve more into the story of Maximilian and Carlota and do a longer series of posts on them someday.