Category Archives: Fine Jewelry News

The Krupp Diamond Legacy

Big Bertha in action. This was one of Krupp's first large cannons. Photo credit.
Big Bertha in action. This was one of Krupp’s first large cannons. Photo credit.

The Krupp Diamond swirls with stories of war crimes, marital neglect, armed robbery, and secret compartments. In this early history you’ll read of the founding of the Krupp family and the acquisition of the Krupp Diamond by its first owner.

Vera Krupp was married to Alfried Krupp in 1952. Three years prior, in 1948, Alfried Krupp was convicted in Nuremberg for crimes against humanity and peace for his abhorrent actions during World War II. The Krupp Legacy begins in the 1600s in Essen, Germany.

German Industrialists

Keen merchants and industrialists, the Krupps were acute business women* and men who dominated the armaments industry in western Germany {1}. Their fabrication of guns and armor began under the keen watch of Catherina Krupp-Huyssen in the early 1600s {1}. Catherina’s brother, Anton Krupp, sold gun-barrels, while other members of the family were believed to have sold cannon balls and bayonets during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) {1}.

In 1737, Friedrich Jodokus Krupp, a grocer and cattle-dealer, married up. With his heiress wife’s money, he established the House of Krupp at the center of Essen, Germany {1}. A widower in his forties, Friedrich married his distant relation, Helene Amalie, several years later. It was Helene, a widow after only six years of marriage to Friedrich, who acquired shares in the family’s first coal mines and purchased an iron-fulling mill and an iron-foundry.

The Krupp dynasty began manufacturing (as opposed to brokering) armaments as early as 1843, under the direction of Alfred Krupp, great-grandson of  Helene Amalie {1}. The dread guns of Krupp brought triumph for Prussia in the 1870s, after which it seemed the whole world “was scrambling to buy Krupp…” {1, pp. 83 & 93}.

In 1877, Alfred ensured that Krupp guns served on both sides of the Russo-Turkish {1, p. 96}. In the 1890s, his son and heir, strongly leading Krupp into the 20th century, equipped Germany’s new navy {1, p. 106).

Bertha Krupp

After Alfred’s death in 1902, the House of Krupp, reported to be worth more than 20 million pounds, passed to Fritz’s 16-year-old daughter Bertha {1}. In 1906, the young heiress married Gustav von Bohlen und Halbach, who took the Krupp name for his own.

Under Gustav’s direction, the Krupp family continued to monopolize the gun industry in Germany, their steel dominating the German battlefields of  World War I. During the three years following the First World War, Germany and the House of Krupp were as entwined as braided rope. It should come as no surprise that in these years of peace the House of Krupp was urged to manufacture such non-militant products as false teeth, garbage cans, and trains {1}.

Although the official record relates that Krupp refrained from manufacturing armaments between 1918 and 1936, Peter Batty, in his definitive biography, The House of Krupp, writes of an article written by Gustav Krupp in 1942 {p. 144}. In this article, Gustav reports that while the Krupp weapons of World War I were being destroyed, his factories were manufacturing such products as “padlocks, milk-cans, [and] cash registers” {p. 145}.

Much to the chagrin of his heir, Gustav revealed that these benign products served as cover for Krupp’s allegiance to the new Kaiser, Adolf Hitler. Rather than keeping the agreements made under the Treaty of Versailles, he assured Herr Hitler that Krupp would “begin the rearmament of the German people without any gaps of experience…” {p. 145}.

Alfried Krupp

In 1907, Bertha Krupp gave birth to the sole heir of the Krupp dynasty. Raised under the rule of Germany’s most notorious Kaiser, Alfried would serve the German Reich without hesitation. It is not known whether Alfried was aware of his father’s disregard for the Treaty of Versailles, but Batty reminds us of Alfried’s loyalty to his family and to Germany {p. 173}.

By the time World War II broke out, Alfried was leading Krupp in his father’s stead. Peter Batty calls him “far too essential to Hitler and his generals for him to be allowed to go off to fight” {p. 175}. Just how essential was he?

According to an official military document prepared by the German military in 1942, Krupp supplied to the Germans a host of tanks and U-boats; anti-tank, anti-aircraft, self-propelled guns; as well as rocket-assisted and armor-piercing shells {1}. And that is the short list of weapons and armor supplied to Germany’s troops during the hellish reign of the Fuhrer.

Not only did Krupp supply these weapons of mass destruction, but he also seems to have initiated the detestable labor camps where countless human beings lost their lives. According to Jeff Burbank, who wrote Las Vegas Babylon; Tales of Glitter, Glamour and Greed, Alfried established an outsourced company to oversee the labor camps.

This company forced 100,000 concentration camp detainees to make munitions and build factories for Krupp throughout Germany and German-occupied states. Burbank states that the same Krupp company managed the concentration camp Bushmannshof, which housed the infants and toddlers of the forced laborers.

This man’s second wife, Vera, would be the very first woman to wear the Krupp Diamond. The diamond was purchased at some point between 1952 and 1955, and Vera Krupp favored the stone until her death in 1967.

*To read the early portion of Peter Batty’s book, The House of Krupp, is to see the German tradition of women and men reigning as equals in business and household affairs. On pages 30-31, we read of Helene Amalie Krupp, who “proceeded to bring up her two small children while at the same time improving and expanding the family business.”

References

  1. Batty, Peter. The House of Krupp. New York: Stein and Day, 1966.
  2. “Krupp – Steel and Diamonds,” World’s Luxury GuideApril 25, 2012.
  3. Simkin, John. “Alfried Krupp.” Spartacus Educational. Accessed January 10, 2015.
  4. Watson, Peter. The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution and the Twentieth Century. London: Simon & Schuster, 2010.
  5. World War II Database. “Alfried Krupp.” Accessed January 10, 2015.

Elizabeth Taylor’s Taj Mahal Diamond

Press photo of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the film, The Sandpiper. This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.
Press photo of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the film, The Sandpiper. This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.

 

Elizabeth Taylor’s Taj Mahal Diamond* traveled a far distance before it was acquired by the celebrated Hollywood star. Its journey began on the workbench of a court jeweler of the Mughal Empire. Fashioned for the reigning Empress Nur Jahan in the year 1627, the diamond passed on to Empress Mumtaz-I-Mahal, the following year.

The Taj Mahal Diamond’s Early Features

At the time of its creation, Nur Jahan’s Diamond, as it is also called, featured a table-cut Indian diamond fashioned in the shape of a heart. This large diamond was set within a gray-white jadeite mount, which was also heart shaped. The splendor of the setting was completed with trimmings in gold, diamonds, and red gemstones.

The outer rim of the mount was decorated with six old-mine cut diamonds set bezel style in yellow gold. The red gemstones were set side by side in a bezel-style gold channel. They are believed by some to be spinels {2}. These red stones formed yet another heart-shaped frame around the central diamond. The striking red offered a beautiful contrast to the matte white Persian inscription on the diamond.

Engraved with the Islamic date 1037, the number 23, and the words Nur Jahan Baygum-e Padshah, the diamond jewel is testament to the skill achieved by Indian stone cutters in the 1600s. In a technique lost to modern-day craftsmen, these talented artisans managed to carve the world’s hardest material without the use of lasers {2}.

This beautiful diamond and jadeite jewel was originally suspended, without further embellishment, from a silk cord. It is unclear whether either Empress wore this beautiful jewel. However, given the splendor of Shah Jahan’s kingdom, it would be hard to imagine that such a display of beauty and wealth would have remained in a jewelry box for its whole life.

Richard Burton Buys the Taj Mahal Diamond

Writers Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, in their book Furious Love, tell the story of Richard Burton’s purchase of the Taj Mahal Diamond. According to their account, Richard and Liz were awaiting a flight at the Kennedy Airport. At their request, representatives from Cartier’s New York arrived to entertain them with a feast of jewels.

The Taj Mahal Diamond caught Liz’s eye, and Richard bought it on the spot, supposedly an early birthday present. Records do not indicate whether the jewel they saw was in its original condition or whether Cartier had already refashioned the new mounting for it. Some report that the Taylor-Burton’s requested the addition of the golden lariat, while others make no comment.

Given that Elizabeth was said to have worn the jewel before her birthday celebration several months later, it is somewhat safe to assume it was already housed in its new mounting and they purchased it on spec. Without further details from Cartier, this remains pure speculation.

The Taj Mahal Diamond’s New Mounting

This new designer mounting is perhaps among the most exquisite modern settings created for an historic diamond. In 1972, Cartier fashioned an elaborate heart-shaped case from gold in latticework enamel style. Into this beautiful case they set the original jadeite and diamond gem.

The gem was originally outfitted with large gold loops through which Cartier strung the terminating ends of an exquisite golden rope fashioned to resemble the jewel’s original silk cord. On each side, the golden rope’s tiny ends flair out in miniature golden tassels capped with a single cabochon ruby.

The neckchain is unadorned all the way up both sides to form a golden lariat which terms in a gorgeous golden tassel emerging from a floret of gold, rubies, and diamonds. A sphere of gold, decorated with perhaps a dozen cabochon rubies, serves as an adjustable band allowing the pendant to be displayed at varying lengths.

The individual strands of gold that form the larger tassel are each capped with a single cabochon ruby. The overall effect is Mughal splendor with a modern twist.

True to form, Cartier effectively drew upon their extensive knowledge of Indian and Persian style to create an entirely new jewel. This new treasure represented perfectly the splendor and majesty of the Mughal courts of old while perfectly accessorizing America’s reigning queen of fashion throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The Taj Mahal Diamond was yet again a jewel fit for a queen.

Richard Burton Holds a Press Conference

Though she is rumored to have worn the Taj Mahal Diamond several times prior to her birthday, Elizabeth Taylor officially received the jewel as the crowning gift of her 40th birthday celebration. This birthday celebration represented more to the couple than just a mere passing of time.

Having endured a long bout of rumors of his infidelities, Richard decided a public display of affection was in order. He invited Elizabeth to plan an elaborate party at the Duma Hotel in Budapest on February 27, 1972 {4}. During the party they planned to renew their vows.

Beforehand, Richard hosted a press conference during which he offered a close-up view of the Taj Mahal Diamond necklace. In several of the photographs, he wears the jewel draped across his forehead. In the remaining images, it hangs upon the neck of a young Hungarian boy who passed by during the public event.

The Birthday Bash Benefits UNICEF

According to author Kitty Kelley, another public announcement was made during the party. This does not appear to have taken place during the press conference. Instead, it seems to have been incited by the young son of one of party guests.

According to Ms. Kelley, Emlyn Williams’ son called Elizabeth Taylor a “beautiful doughnut covered in diamonds and paint,” accusing her of not caring about the Hungarian Revolution raging at the time. Richard, after consoling his crying wife, announced at that moment that Elizabeth Taylor would write a check to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The amount of the check was to match the amount spent on her party.

Four months later, on July 8, 1972, Richard handed UNICEF’s representative Peter Ustinov a check in the amount of $45,000. During the party, Elizabeth Taylor’s Taj Mahal Diamond hung regally around her neck, accompanied by her Krupp diamond which she wore mounted in a ring. Liz Taylor was a vision in white, wearing a Grecian gown and white cyclamen blossoms in her hair {4}.

An Auction at Christie’s

The Taj Mahal Diamond remained one of Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite jewels. She wore it on many occasions, often at its longest length. Even after she and Richard Burton split for good, she treasured the jewel he purchased for her.

It remained in her collection until shortly after her death on March 23, 2011. That December, Elizabeth Taylor’s Taj Mahal Diamond went under the hammer at Christie’s evening event called The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor: The Legendary Jewels. The sale took place on December 13, 2011, drawing a large crowd of collectors, designers, and spectators.

As is customary, the renowned auction house set an estimated price based on the jewel’s material value. This estimate of between $300,000 and $500,000 was eclipsed by a fierce bidding war which drove the price into the millions. By the time the hammer fell, the realized price for the gem was a staggering $8,818,500.

Writing for The New York Times, Charles Isherwood reported that at least one man (surely more) walked away sorely disappointed. Mr. Isherwood writes that a representative from the Islamic Arts Museum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, had flown to New York for the sole purpose of purchasing the Taj Mahal Diamond for the museum’s collection. According to his report, the man “put his paddle down well before that number had been reached” and left defeated but possibly relieved, as well.

Today, Elizabeth Taylor’s Taj Mahal Diamond has slipped into what I’m sure is a well-documented, but closely guarded segment of its history. I wonder when it will surface again.

~by Angela Magnotti Andrews, Staff Writer

*Press photos of this gem are no longer widely available. As such, this writer has created a Pinterest board with a number of photos of the Taj Mahal Diamond for your viewing pleasure.

References

  1. Christie’s. “The Taj Mahal, An Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace, Ruby and Gold Chain, by Cartier.” Sale date: December 13, 2011.
  2. Internet Stones. “The Taj Mahal/Nur Jahan Diamond.” Accessed January 10, 2015.
  3. Isherwood, Charles. “Once a Star, Always a Star,” The New York Times, December 16, 2011.
  4. Kashner, Sam and Nancy Schoenberger. Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor * Richard Burton The Marriage of the Century. London: Aurum Press, 2013.
  5. Kelley, Kitty. Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star. USA: Simon & Schuster, 1981.
  6. Walters, Rob. Rogue Males: Richard Burton, Howard Marks, and Sir Richard Burton. England: Satin, 2010.

The Taj Mahal Diamond

Western View of the Taj Mahal. This is the view Shah Jahan would have had from Agra Fort. Photo taken by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, 2012. Used with permission.
Western View of the Taj Mahal. This is the view Shah Jahan would have had from Agra Fort. Photo taken by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, 2012. Used with permission.

Tracing the Taj Mahal Diamond through history is a fascinating endeavor. It was created by Mughal court jewelers for Emperor Jahangir Shah and his beloved wife, Nur Jahan. After his death, the emperor’s son, Shah Jahan, ascended the throne and took possession of the heart-shaped pendant.

This gorgeous jewel* features a table-cut white diamond of unknown size carved into the shape of a heart. Inscribed upon the face of the diamond, in Persian, is a declaration of Nur Jahan’s position as Lady of the Master. The numbers inscribed on the6 stone mark the final year of her claim to that title.

Shortly after the diamond was created, Nur Jahan’s husband died. Her stepson Shah Jahan seized the throne by force.  The jewel became his possession, and it is rumored that he passed it along to his most beloved wife, Mumtal-I-Mahal.

Mumtal-I-Mahal’s Death

Here begins Act II of the Taj Mahal Diamond’s history. (Read Act I here.) Three years after becoming empress of the Mughal Empire, in the year 1631, Mumtal-I-Mahal died in childbirth.  The court chroniclers recorded the death of their queen soon after she gave birth to a daughter:

When she brought out the last single pearl,
She emptied her body like an oyster. 
{5, p. 1}

Diana Preston, in her book Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire, details the legendary story:
“In a dusty fortress on the hot, airless plateau of the Deccan in central India…a severe pain gripped [Mumtal-I-Mahaz’s] abdomen. Doctors were hastily summoned, but despite their efforts, the 38-year-old mother’s fourteenth pregnancy was going severely wrong. Weak through loss of blood, she whispered to her distraught husband of their everlasting love and begged him not to marry again. Her final request was that he should build her a mausoleum resembling paradise on earth, just as she had seen in her dreams” {p. 1}.

Shah Jahan would do as she asked, but not before he locked himself away in his rooms, refusing food for eight days {1}. Even after he agreed to take food, he remained in seclusion for two years {5}. She writes that his hair turned completely white in one night and that he turned his back on riches and pleasures. He donned a simple white mourning costume and devoted the next 20 years of his life to fulfilling his wife’s deathbed wish {5}.

The Taj Mahal

Unesco calls the Taj Mahal “the jewel of Muslim art in India” {6}. Diana Preston calls it “the world’s most famous memorial to love” {p. 1}. A fusion of Persian, Muslim, and India design elements, the Taj Mahal casts a spell on all who gaze upon it.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who saw its magnificent just after the sun went down, wrote, “I held my breath unable to speak in the face of so much beauty…this is a beauty that enters the soul” {5, p. 3}.

With the treasury of the entire Mughal Empire at his disposal, Shah Jahan poured every ounce of his grief and passion into ensuring the intricate beauty of his wife’s resting place. Made entirely of white marble and rose sandstone, the Taj Mahal features exquisite mosaic work in precious and semi-precious stones. The History Channel relates that the colorful display was fashioned out of jade, lapis lazuli, turquoise, amethyst, and other crystals in the pietra dura technique.

An Empire in Decline

Having thrown everything into the creation of this paradise on earth, Shah Jahan, indifferent to his kingly duties, depleted the kingdom’s stores. After 22 years of neglect, the empire was heading toward decline.

In 1653, the remains of Mumtal-I-Mahal were finally interred in her final resting place. Four years later, Shah Jahan fell ill, and his son Dara, the favored son of Mumtal-I-Mahal, took over his father’s duties. Dara’s three brothers, Aurangzeb, Shuja, and Murad, amassed an army which defeated Dara’s military delegation.

They declared their father incompetent to rule, and Aurangzeb took to the throne. He ordered his father’s arrest and had him detained in Agra Fort. From here, the former ruler had a pristine view of the western face of the Taj Mahal. It is said that he spent most of his time staring at it until he died in 1666 {7}.

The Taj Mahal Diamond

During this time, the Taj Mahal Diamond remained in the Mughal treasury. It was passed from ruler to ruler until 1739. In May of that year, Nadir Shah, ruler of Persia, swept in and defeated the Mughal armies.

The treasury of India’s Mughal emperors, worth an estimated value of 700 million rupees {3}, was handed over to Nadir Shah. Chests of gemstones, including some of the world’s most famous diamonds (Koh-i-Noor and Darya-i-Noor), the Peackock throne of Shah Jahan, and likely the Nur Jahan Pendant (now called the Taj Majal Diamond), were carried into Persia.

In 1749, Nadir Shah was assassinated by those who were charged to protect him, and the Persian treasury was dispersed among these former bodyguards {3}. During this chaotic time, the whereabouts of the Taj Mahal Diamond are undocumented.

One theory suggests the possibility that the diamond was not among the jewels taken by Nadir Shah {3}. Another poses the possibility that the jewel was recovered through acts of torture perpetrated by Agha Muhammad Khan Qajar. Still others propose that the jewel may have been recovered in an attack on Nadir Shah’s convoy as it made its way through Indian lands.

While it’s method of recovery remains a mystery, the Taj Mahal Diamond was returned at some point to the Mughals, having been documented in the city of Delhi as part of the collection belonging to the Mughal Empire’s final ruler, Bahadur Zafar Shah II.

The Taj Mahal Diamond in Britain

In 1857, British forces captured the city of Delhi. The emperor was placed under arrest, and the jewels of the Mughal treasury were cataloged for transport to England. Since the Taj Mahal Diamond did not find its way into the official registry, it’s believed that the stone was pilfered by one of the British soldiers, who smuggled the jewel into Britain for his own purposes {3}.

At some point, Cartier acquired the Mughal relic and fashioned for it a beautiful new setting of gold and rubies. In their book, Furious Love, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger detail the story of how Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with the Taj Mahal Diamond necklace:
“…during a layover at Kennedy Airport. Cartier accommodated the Burtons by bringing a king’s ransom of jewelry to the airport for them to consider while they waited for the next plane. The Taj Mahal necklace was among the selections” {p. 31}.

Burton purchased the glorious jewel as an early birthday gift for Elizabeth. She was overjoyed and wore it many times throughout her life. Thus begins Act III of the Taj Mahal Diamond’s history.

Read More…

*Press photos of this gem are no longer widely available. As such, this writer has created a Pinterest board with a number of photos of the Taj Mahal Diamond for your viewing pleasure.

 References

  1. Christie’s. “Lot 56: The Taj Mahal an Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace Ruby and Gold Chain, by Cartier.” Accessed January 4, 2015. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/jewelry/the-taj-mahal-an-indian-diamond-and-5507931-details.aspx.
  2. “Deconstructing History: Taj Mahal.” History.com. Accessed January 4, 2015. http://www.history.com/topics/taj-mahal.
  3. Internet Stones. “The Taj Mahal/Nur Jahan Diamond.” Accessed January 4, 2015. http://www.internetstones.com/taj-mahal-diamond-famous-jewelry.html.
  4. Kashner, Sam and Nancy Schoenberger. Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor * Richard Burton, the Marriage of the Century. London: JR Books, 2010.
  5. Preston, Diana. Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire. New York: Walker Publishing Company, 2007.
  6. Savion Travel Services. “Shah Jahan,” Taj Mahal. Accessed January 4, 2015. http://www.tajmahal.org.uk/shah-jahan.html.
  7. Unesco. “Taj Mahal.” Accessed January 4, 2015. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/252.

Early History of the Taj Mahal Diamond

Idealized Portrait of the Mughal Empress Nur Jahan (1577-1645), circa 1725-1750, wife of Jahangir
Idealized Portrait of the Mughal Empress Nur Jahan (1577-1645), circa 1725-1750, wife of Jahangir. This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art.

The Taj Mahal Diamond is a jewel of great renown*. It features a heart-shaped, table-cut diamond, inscribed in Persian. This jewel is set into a larger heart-shaped white jadeite mount. The jadeite heart is decorated with gold, rubies, and diamonds. It was originally fashioned to hang from a silk cord around the neck of a Mughal queen.

Three inscriptions on the face of the diamond translate as follows: Nur Jahan Baygum-e Padshah; 23; and 1037 {1}. This lettering offers strong clues to the early history of the Taj Mahal Diamond.

The Empress Nur Jahan

The jewel was the creation of the court of Emperor Jahangir Shah, who ruled the Mughal Empire in India from 1605 to 1627. The inscription reading 1037 is believed to be a date on the Islamic calendar, which correlates to 1627 AD.

Some experts believe the jewel was commissioned as a love token from Emperor Jahangir to his favored wife, Nur Jahan. However, others suggest that Nur Jahan, who held court in place of her opium-addicted husband, may have ordered the jewel designed for herself.

The 23 is thought by experts to mark the 23rd year of the Emperor’s reign. This proved to be the final year of the Emperor’s reign. If Empress Nur Jahan had a chance to wear the spectacular jewel, it was not documented.

A Fierce Competition

Emperor Jahangir died in October, and by November 1627, his son, Shahryar, had ascended the throne at Lahore, at the bequest of Empress Nur Jahan. The former Empress was both stepmother and mother-in-law to the new monarch.

Together, they kept secret Jahangir Shah’s death for several weeks, hoping to buy the support of the ruling nobles. They managed to maintain rule in Lahore for nearly two months. Some historians propose that the Empress could have worn the Taj Mahal diamond during her son-in-law’s brief reign on the throne. However, it is likely she would have deemed such an opulent display too risky, given the army bearing down on them to seize the throne.

This army moved at the command of Asaf Khan, Empress Nur Jahan’s brother. Around the same time his sister was claiming the throne for her chosen descendant, Asaf was making a similar declaration in Agra.

Though he supported Shah Jahan, he first declared Dawar Baksh (Jahangir’s grandson) the new ruler of the Mughal Empire at Agra. According to the writers at Internet Stones, Asaf Khan did so in order to tactically secure the throne for Shah Jahan.

Asaf’s military efforts in Lahore proved successful. He ordered the defeated Mughal to stand before Dawar Baksh, who ordered him sent to prison. Shortly afterwards, on January 8, 1628, Shah Jahan took his place upon the throne in Lahore, securing his rule over the entire kingdom.

First Acts of the New Emperor

One of his first acts as emperor was to order Asaf Khan to put to death all contenders for the throne. At least five young men, including Shahryar and Dawar Baksh, were executed. All of the fallen were either cousin or brother to the new emperor.

In his role as prime minister, Asaf Khan intervened on behalf of his sister. Rather than executing Nur Jahan for her alliance with Shariyar, Emperor Jahan granted her release from prison with an annual pension and the right to live in her palace in Lahore until her death.

During this time, the vast treasury of the Mughal Empire transferred to the new emperor. The historical records available to modern-day scholars do not mention the heart-shaped diamond pendant. Scholars are certain that the jewel was acquired at some point during this transition by Shah Jahan’s most favored wife, Mumtaz-I-Mahal.

Mumtaz-I-Mahal

Mumtaz-I-Mahal was born Arjumand Banu Begum. She married Shah Jahan in 1612, when he was addressed formally as Prince Khurram. {2; 1}. In their text Taj Mahal, Mausoleum of Mumtaz Mahal, Drs. Zahoor and Haq explain the Mughal tradition for noble and royal women of the court to change their names when significant events occurred in their lives.

When she married the future emperor, Arjumand became “Chosen One of the Palace,” which is what Mumtaz-I-Mahal means {2}. Her name is apt, as she was Shah Jahan’s favorite among his three wives. Christie’s reports that she was reputed to be friend and adviser to the king, closer than any other to him. Though the Mughal Dynasty was a patriarch, it seems the women enjoyed an equanimity in rule.

If Shah Jahan gifted the Taj Mahal diamond to his bride as an act of devotion and honor after their ascension to the throne, this would come as no surprise. For this to take place, the jewel would have transferred directly from the Mughal treasury. One theory is that the court jewelers did not have time to deliver the jewel to the deceased emperor or to his wife {3}.

If the jewel had been delivered prior to the Emperor’s death, it may have been cataloged as part of the Empress’s official jewelry collection. The collection would have been immediately relinquished to Shah Jahan upon his ascension to the throne {3}.

Because no mention is made of such an acquisition by Shah Jahan, a third possibility presents itself. Mumtaz, the favored wife of Shah Jahan, was niece Nur Jahan, the favored wife of the dead emperor. However improbable, it is possible that Nur Jahan gave the jewel directly to her niece, perhaps as a token of affection and/or loyalty, before she returned to her castle in Lahore {3}.

Scholars refer to the diamond as the Nur Jahan diamond during this period of its history. In the second act of its life, the jewel takes on the stories of its new owner, thereby acquiring the modern distinction as the Taj Mahal Diamond.

Read More…

*Press photos of this gem are no longer widely available. As such, this writer has created a Pinterest board with a number of photos of the Taj Mahal Diamond for your viewing pleasure.

References

  1. Christie’s. “Lot 56: The Taj Mahal An Indian Diamond and Jade Pendant Necklace Ruby and Gold Chain, by Cartier.” Accessed January 2, 2015. http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/jewelry/the-taj-mahal-an-indian-diamond-and-5507931-details.aspx.
  2. “Deconstructing History: Taj Mahal.” History.com. Accessed January 4, 2015. http://www.history.com/topics/taj-mahal.
  3. Internet Stones. “The Taj Mahal/Nur Jahan Diamond.” Accessed January 4, 2015. http://www.internetstones.com/taj-mahal-diamond-famous-jewelry.html.
  4. Zahoor, A., Dr. and Dr. Z. Haq. “Taj Mahal, Agra, India,” IsalamiCity: 1990, 1997. http://www.islamicity.com/Culture/Taj/default.htm#sthash.FJ1h0xuk.FcFK8mkH.dpbs.

LeAnn Rimes’ Engagement Ring Details

Capture the Essence! of LeAnn Rimes' love of fleur-de-lis with this Rhonda Faber Green Diamond Pendant Fleur-de-Lis. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of LeAnn Rimes’ love of fleur-de-lis with this Rhonda Faber Green Diamond Pendant Fleur-de-Lis. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

LeAnn Rimes’ engagement ring traces its roots back to Seattle, Washington. It was custom made by California jeweler Brent Polacheck.

According to IWMagazine, Polacheck Jewelers began as a Seattle diamond store in the 1920s. It has now burgeoned into a multigeneration California jewelry outfit with appeal to “sophisticated males” between 32 and 50 years of age.

This appeal to men of distinction comes largely from Polacheck’s emphasis on large diamonds and luxury watches by Patek Philippe, Cartier, and Rolex {cited}. A visit to Polacheck’s website confirms this focus on mens jewelry. The site showcases Patek Philippe watches and bold gemstone pieces by Armenta, Ippolita, and Roberto Coin.

They do offer a selection of womens jewelry. However, their marketing definitely appeals to the cosmopolitan man purchasing a gift for his woman. Here we see the sculptured pieces of David Yurman,  the colorful offerings of KCDesigns, and delicate elegance of Penny Preville.

One thing Polacheck Jewelers does not present on their website is engagement rings. So, how did Eddie Cibrian convince the esteemed jewelers to spend countless hours designing Leann Rimes’ engagement ring?

Turns out Brent and Eddie grew up together. It was a natural fit for Brent to fashion the diamond, platinum, and rose gold engagement ring for Eddie’s lady love.

Together, they conceived the 5-carat diamond engagement ring set in platinum and rose gold. The central stone appears to be rimmed by shimmering single-cut diamonds. The rose gold band features twin fleur-de-lis paved in rose-cut diamonds.

“Le[Ann]’s participation in the design was solely regarding the Fleur de Lis. She had her heart set on having that incorporated in the ring,” Brent told People. The overall effect is unique and absolutely beautiful.

What do you think? Did the men do her proud?

Let us know on our Facebook page. #LeAnnRimes

Chelsea Clinton’s Wedding Jewelry

Capture the Essence! of Chelsea Clinton's Wedding Jewelry with these Sonia B Floral Diamond Earrings. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Chelsea Clinton’s Wedding Jewelry with these Sonia B Floral Diamond Earrings. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Chelsea Clinton’s wedding jewelry is a vision of classic elegance. Her engagement ring is tucked behind a beautiful bouquet of white roses.  A diamond tennis bracelet is wrapped elegantly around her wrist. It features a dainty floral centerpiece.

She wears a rhinestone and pearl sash. A beautiful accent to her strapless white dress. On her ears she wears a pair of diamond earrings. About Style reports that Ms. Clinton’s earrings feature the same floral pattern as her bracelet.

Photos of Ms. Clinton’s wedding jewelry reveal no more than what is mentioned here. Her happiness is the greatest adornment of all.

If Chelsea’s wedding jewelry is cloaked in mystery, her engagement ring is left in downright obscurity. Experts can only guess as to the cut. Some say it’s a square cut, others an an Asscher cut. Still others claim it’s an emerald cut.

At EraGem, we agree it could be any one of these cuts. It is a stellar white diamond mounted on a platinum or white gold band. The available photos do not show enough of the ring to comment on accent stones. It might be a perfect solitaire.

The Logan Sapphire

Photo credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Staff. This photo is in the public domain.
Photo credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Staff. This photo is in the public domain.

by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The Logan Sapphire

The Logan Sapphire mesmerizes with its numerous facets radiating in spiral fashion toward the deep central culet. Surrounding the 423-carat Sri Lankan blue sapphire, set in silver and gold, are twenty round brilliant-cut diamonds. Their total carat weight is 16 carats.

Today, this gorgeous jewel resides in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. This arresting gallery is “tucked,” as the GIA writes, “into the eastern wing” of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.  It has lived there since 1960, a part of our nation’s treasure trove, The National Gem Collection.

In 1997, the GIA examined the stone and declared it to be an untreated, natural blue sapphire. The Smithsonian describes its color as “medium soft violetish blue,” and reports that the stone has “exceptional clarity” given its size and cut {8}.

Rebecca “Polly” Guggenheim

Before that time, one Rebecca “Polly” Guggenheim wore the gorgeous brooch on her shoulder while hosting lavish parties in Firenze House, a Tudor-style mansion on Broad Ranch Rd. {1} in D.C.  The Washington Post reported in 1994, that between the 1940s and 1970s, she entertained countless diplomats and VIPs in both the arts and the business communities of Washington.

Mrs. Guggenheim was married to Col. M. Robert Guggenheim. According to Jeffrey E. Post, curator of the Smithsonian’s Mineral Collection, Mr. Guggenheim was heir to a fortune built on the mining and smelting industry. Mr. Post also mentions that the man was a “notorious philanderer.”

In 1959, Mr. Guggenheim died. In 1960, Polly Guggenheim donated the gorgeous table-cut sapphire brooch to the museum. Mr. Post related that when her friend asked how she could part with such a beautiful piece, Polly responded, “Every time I looked at it, all I could think of was my no good, cheating husband” {7}.

Mrs. John A. Logan

In 1962, Polly married John A. Logan, a management consultant in Washington, D.C. {5}. According to a friend of the family, Mr. Donald Dewey, the couple moved into a smaller home on S Street. Her parties continued, though they took a decided turn away from art and world politics, toward American Republican politics.

According to The Boston Globe, Mrs. Logan dedicated decades of her life to providing behind-the-scenes support to Republican candidates. Descriptions of Polly from those who knew here range from “…a tornado, a very dynamic force across the landscape…” {4}. Hailed as “a master of the mechanics of politics in the…pre-Internet age…” {4}, she was “…a dynamo in all that she did, whether it was civic or political or friendship…” {4}.

Politics and Art

Her niece, Beverly Pollard Page, wrote that her Aunt Polly “was the kindest person to any and everyone and had a lovely southern way about her. She loved entertaining and going to Washington parties in her beautiful gowns and was a Washington beauty with her red hair” {6}.

Her tireless efforts for the Republican Party were only a part of her story. Prior to her involvement with the party, Polly spent her time advocating for the arts. An artist herself, Polly founded the Art Barn in Rock Creek Park, where “the works of painters, sculptors, photographers, and artisans are exhibited” {1}.

Not only did she support artists, but Mrs. Logan was also a painter. Her portraits have graced the walls of the Smithsonian and other Boston museums, and some belong to private collections {1}.

Although she was a Guggenheim when she acquired and donated the  sapphire to the Smithsonian, it is no wonder that the powers that be decided to name the jewel The Logan Sapphire. Clearly, Mrs. John A. Logan was just getting started in her Guggenheim days. It is far more fitting that The Logan Sapphire be associated with the gregarious, infectious, and charming Polly Logan.

Notes

  1. Barnes, Bart. “Polly Guggenheim Logan Dies; Art Patron, Washington Hostess,” Washington Post, March 15, 1994.
  2. Chapin, Merille and Duncan Pay and Jim Shigley and Pedro Padua. “The Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection,” GIA, November 14, 2013. http://www.gia.edu/gia-news-research-smithsonian-gem-mineral-collection.
  3. Internet Stones Forum Thread. “Logan Blue Sapphire,” August 6, 2013 – December 24, 2013. http://forums.internetstones.com/index.php/Thread/205-Logan-Blue-Sapphire/.
  4.  Marquard, Bryan. “Polly Loga, 88, state GOP’s grande dame,” The Boston Globe, October 8, 2013. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/obituaries/2013/10/07/polly-logan-grande-dame-republicans-massachusetts/wrFZjgQCSTLR5bKtCuSRVM/story.html.
  5. Maryjewel. Comment on Internet Stones Forum.August 9, 2013. http://forums.internetstones.com/index.php/Thread/205-Logan-Blue-Sapphire/.
  6. Pollard Page, Beverly. Comment on Internet Stones Forum. March 16, 2010. http://forums.internetstones.com/index.php/Thread/205-Logan-Blue-Sapphire/.
  7. Post, Jeffrey E. “Capital Jewels,” Washington Life Magazine, February 4, 2009. http://www.washingtonlife.com/2009/02/04/capital-jewels/.
  8. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. “Gem Gallery: Logan Sapphire [G3703]. Accessed December 22, 2014. http://geogallery.si.edu/index.php/en/1001402/logan-sapphire.

 

 

 

 

Amy Adams’ Engagement Ring

Capture the Essence! of Amy Adams' Engagement Ring with this 1.15-Carat Diamond Halo Engagement Ring in Platinum. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Amy Adams’ Engagement Ring with this 1.15-Carat Diamond Halo Engagement Ring in Platinum. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Amy Adams’ engagement ring is a stunning designer creation by Jean Dousset, of Cartier descent. According to InStyle, her now-husband, Darren Legallo, an actor and rally driver, wrapped the ring box in wrapping paper that the actress decided to keep. According to sources, the central stone is a 1-carat brilliant-cut diamond.

Ms. Adams’ engagement ring is a study in perfection, designed specifically with Amy in mind. While the intimate details of her ring belong to the actress and those closest to her, we are privy to some general details.

For one, Mr. Dousset confirms on his website that Ms. Adams’ engagement ring, featured in Us Magazine’s Celebrity Sparkler Quiz on May 13, 2013, is patterned after his EVA design.  Handcrafted in his “seamless halo” design, the central diamond is 1 carat and surrounded by hand-cut diamonds that seamlessly flow around the girdle of the stone. This leaves the crown and the pavilion of the stone visible to the eye from nearly every angle.

Set in this way, the center stone is held snugly without the use of prongs, a unique characteristic of Jean Dousset Diamonds. Mr. Dousset states, “The diamond center stone should always be the focus of an engagement ring, and the metal should only play a supporting role.” By creating seamless, prongless houses for his diamonds, he gives center stage to the beautiful hand-selected stones.

For Ms. Adams’ ring, the supporting metal is platinum. The solid band is paved midway with rare colorless melee. One final intimate detail is known only because it represents one of Mr. Dousset’s key signatures. Beneath the crown, cradled in a ring of platinum, rests a colored gemstone.

It’s impossible to know which stone she would have chosen, but it could be her birthstone (peridot or sardonyx), or it could be one of the royal trio (sapphire, emerald, ruby), or it could be a semi-precious stone of significance to her alone.

Today, she wears the beautiful diamond nestled against three thin platinum wedding bands paved in diamonds. The one she wears nearest to her heart is rimmed with tiny yellow diamonds (or sapphires). The other two are the same size and weight, paved in white diamonds. She wears them between the yellow-stone band and her Jean Dousset engagement ring.

Which mystery stone do you think Ms. Adams’ engagement ring features?

Alicia Keys’ Engagement Ring Details

Capture the Essence! of Alicia Keys' Engagement Ring with this wide band channel-set diamond engagement ring featuring a 2.26-carat Princess Cut Diamond. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Alicia Keys’ Engagement Ring with this wide band engagement ring featuring a 2.26-carat Princess Cut Diamond. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Alicia Keys’ engagement ring is an object of mystery. Only one blurry photo of the jewel seems to exist online. Us Magazine, who published the photo, shared only one detail about the ring: “A pal tells US that [Swizz] Beatz…proposed with a 7-carat sparkler right before her big day…”

And that seems to be it.

While we are deprived of the details about Ms. Keys’ engagement ring, we have seen another another photo of Ms. Keys’ ring finger on Marie Claire’s “152 Celebrity Engagement Rings” feature. The ring Ms. Keys wears in the photo appears to be made of platinum (though white gold is a possibility).

It is a wide band with three rows of channel-set stones. The outer two are solid rows of white diamonds, and the inner row is set with yellow stones, either yellow diamonds or yellow sapphires.

Given that this ring does not contain the rumored 7-carat sparkler, it’s more likely that this photo features her wedding band.

Do any of Alicia’s fans know what yellow means to her?

Have you seen another photo of Alicia Keys’ engagement ring with the 7-carat diamond?

Leave us a comment on our Facebook page and let us know if you have any insight into Ms. Keys’ engagement ring or her wedding band. We’d love to hear from you.

Drew Barrymore’s Engagement Ring Details

Capture the Essence! of Drew Barrymore's Engagement Ring with this 1.5-Carat Radiant-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring by Palladio. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.
Capture the Essence! of Drew Barrymore’s Engagement Ring with this 1.5-Carat Radiant-Cut Diamond Engagement Ring by Palladio. Photo ©2014 EraGem Jewelry.

Art consultant Will Kopelman chose Drew Barrymore’s engagement ring with an eye for beauty, style, and class. He turned first and only to Graff Diamonds for the D-color, radiant-cut diamond which weighs between 3 and 4 carats.

According to their press release, Graff Diamonds deals in only the most extraordinary diamonds, ensuring the highest quality in cut and craftsmanship.  Ms. Barrymore’s engagement ring is clearly no exception to this claim.

The gorgeous diamond is set minimally in a four-prong platinum setting atop a platinum band paved in sparkly white diamonds. During early interviews, Ms. Barrymore appears both intimidated and fascinated by the massive jewel.

“It’s beautiful,” Ms. Barrymore told Anderson Cooper. “He picked it out, and he’s just got lovely taste, and it’s really fancy. I’m sort of funky eclectic girl, so I feel like this is very fancy, and I’m trying to feel comfortable with it.”

It’s clear that although Ms. Barrymore’s engagement ring is far more classic in its appearance than we would expect, it looks so beautiful and natural on her finger. The radiant cut gives off a gorgeous flash of light, even from a distance.

Today, Ms. Barrymore wears a beautiful platinum and diamond wedding band alongside her exquisite diamond engagement ring. This timeless band features round and oval-shaped diamonds set in bezel-style settings. Keeping with tradition, she wears her wedding band nearest her heart.