Over the years, Mouawad has acquired a collection of diamonds that is arguably one of the world's finest in private hands. Some of the largest diamonds in existence take their place among the stunning treasures in this museum-quality collection.
Weight: 245.35 carats
Shape/Cut: Cushion Antique
This magnificent colorless, cushion-cut diamond with a weight of 245.35 carats ranks as the sixth largest in the world. 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 bought by Dom Carlos I of Portugal as a present for his wife. The present whereabouts of this gem is unknown. The remaining large piece was then polished into the Jubilee.
When during the cutting it became evident that a truly superb diamond of exceptional size and purity was being produced, it was planned to present it to Queen Victoria. In the end this did not 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 commemorate the occasion.
In 1900 the syndicate displayed the Jubilee at the Paris Exhibition where it was one of the centers of attraction. It was then valued at 7,000,000 francs.
Shortly afterwards Sir Dorabji Jamshedji 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 the cotton mills founded by his father formed the cornerstone of modern India's economic development. Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata died in 1932. Three years later his heirs sent the Jubilee for sale at Cartier's, who in December of that year mounted it in a display of historic diamonds. In 1937 Cartier sold the Jubilee to M. Paul-Louis Weiller, the Paris industrialist and patron of the arts. The diamond's former setting was changed into a baguette diamond brooch, suggestive of either a six-pointed star or a stylized turtle.
M. Weiller was always generous in lending the Jubilee to exhibitions which included one staged at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1960 and another held in Geneva in December of the same year. In 1966 the Jubilee returned to South Africa where it was featured in the De Beers Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg.
Robert Mouawad has since bought the Jubilee, which is now the largest item in his great collection. He is quoted as saying, "If we refer to the human contribution brought to a diamond, my favorite would be the Jubilee for its outstanding cut for the period."
Weight: 218.08 carats
Shape: Cushion Modified
Sold in 2007 by renowned jeweler, Robert Mouawad, this splendid diamond was named “The Star of Stanley Ho, Grand Lisboa, Macau” to give tribute to Dr. Stanley Ho’s contributions to the development of the gaming industry of Macau. The largest, flawless, cushion diamond in the world, weighing 218.08 carats and graded by the Gemological Institute of America as a D-IF with excellent polish and symmetry.
This remarkable diamond now belongs to the Property of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, S.A. (SJM) and is on public display at Casino Grand Lisboa. Dr Ho says “the diamond represents a timeless quality that reflects SJM’s timeless commitment to Macau and its people”. Robert Mouawad says, "Each diamond is unique and has its own personality traits."
The carat weight, quality grade and the immortal character are all factors that contribute to the overall beauty of a stone, but it is the human touch from the rough to polished stage that unveils its beauty and mystique.” Mouawad continues, “it was a distinct privilege to be a part of this diamond’s history and I am delighted to turn its legacy over to the next owner.”
Weight: 137.02 carats
In March 1978 the Premier mine in South Africa yielded yet another remarkable diamond, a triangular-shaped cleavage of the finest color, weighing 353.9 carats. Like an earlier gem found at the Premier, the Niarchos, this one too traveled right through the various stages of mining recovery only to emerge at the final one, the grease table in the recovery plant.
For reasons of security, the news of the finding of the diamond was not released for two months. After it had been disclosed, the press lost no time in speculating about possible destinations for the eventual polished gem. Prince Rainier of Monaco was obliged to deny reports that he was planning to buy it as a wedding present for his daughter, Princess Caroline, who was shortly to be married; another European royal family was rumored to be interested; Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Empire, who had already spent $20,000,000 on his coronation, was said to have made an offer. In the end the Johannesburg firm Mouw Diamond Cutting Works purchased it, naming it after Mrs. Rose Mouw.
The Mouws then contacted their American partner, William Goldberg, who promptly purchased a share in the diamond. When he set eyes upon it, Mr. Goldberg exclaimed, "A lot of people are going to be interested--this is an unusually exciting diamond."
The cutting was carried out in South Africa and produced three gems which became known as members of the Premier Rose family. The largest, which has retained the name Premier Rose, is a pear shape weighing 137.02 carats, cut with 189 facets and measuring approximately 43.40 by 23.20 by 18.93 mm. It was submitted to the Gemological Institute of America for certification where it received a "D" flawless rating, symbols for the finest qualities of color and clarity. It was then the largest stone of this caliber to have been certified by the GIA. The weight of the Premier Rose makes it the second biggest pear-shaped diamond in existence.
The William Goldberg Diamond Corporation of New York handled the sale of the gems. The Premier Rose was sold in 1979 to an anonymous buyer for about $10,000,000; the sale of the two smaller diamonds followed shortly after. Robert Mouawad added the Premier Rose to his great collection of important diamonds.
Weight: 135.92 carats
There are differing opinions concerning the origin of this 135.92-carats cushion-cut diamond. The Dutch firm F. Friedman & Co. cut it into its present shape in 1904. They owned it for several years, exhibiting it 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.
This suggests the possibility that the Queen of Holland was mined in South Africa, but 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 think that the Queen of Holland is a typical Golconda stone.
The Maharajah of Nawanagar purchased the Queen of Holland and Cartier set it as the centerpiece of the pendant to the magnificent 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 eventually bought the diamond from the Maharajah's family and sent it to their London branch in 1960. Thirty years later, it was sold for a reported $7,000,000. The Queen of Holland was then owned by Robert Mouawad.
Weight: 108.81 carats
Shape/Cut: Emerald Cut
The Mouawad Magic, named by its owner, Robert Mouawad, is a magnificent emerald-cut, D-color diamond weighing 108.81 carats, and with an internally flawless (IF) clarity grade – the highest clarity grade for diamonds. The dimensions of the stone are 32.91 x 20.73 x 16.83 mm. The combined characteristics of its cut, color and clarity give this diamond its exceptional beauty and is the third largest emerald-cut and one of the world’s largest D-color diamonds.
In an extremely rare class of diamonds, the Mouawad Magic belongs to a class of diamonds known as Type IIA, whose occurrence in nature is only about 1-2% of all naturally occurring diamonds. Type IIA diamonds are absolutely colorless due to their nitrogen-free formation. They have perfectly formed crystals, without any distortions and are considered the purest of the pure of all diamonds.
The rough diamond was discovered in the Aredor mine in Guinea, West Africa, in 1991, and originally weighed 244.6 carats. The diamond eventually found its way to Antwerp, Belgium, the international center of the diamond industry, where Robert Mouawad purchased it in March 1991. Mr. Mouawad then recut the diamond at his own lab based in Antwerp where it was transformed into the magnificent emerald-cut diamond of today – the Mouawad Magic.
Weight: 101.84 carats
Shape: Eleven-sided Pear
The Mouawad Splendor is the 7th largest diamond in the Mouawad's rare and unique collection of diamonds, and is made even rarer for its 11-sided girdle, its D-color (completely colorless) and its flawless clarity. True to its name, the Splendor is one of the rarest diamonds in the world, weighing 101.84 carats and valued at an estimated $13,970,000 US dollars.
In 2003, the Mouawad Splendor was set in the Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Fantasy bra, and received the Guinness World Record for the most luxurious and expensive piece of lingerie ever made ($11 million USD). The Mouawad Splendor remains as a spectacular part of the vast Mouawad diamond collection – one of the largest in private hands.
Weight: 46.39 carats, 44.14 carats
Grade: I-VS2, H-VS2
These two diamonds are linked to the "Malabar Hill Murder": One evening in January 1925 at an hour when the hanging gardens of Malabar Hill, one of the most salubrious parts of Bombay, were crowded with people, an official of the Bombay Corporation was driving along its ridge, accompanied by a friend and a Muslim woman. Suddenly their car was attacked by armed men. The official was murdered and the two others badly injured. Four British officers passing by went to their aid, and managed to detain one of the assailants.
During an earlier case before the Bombay High Court it was revealed that the Muslim woman, Mumtaz Begum, had been a dancing girl at the Court of Tukoji Rao III, Maharajah of Indore, one of the three great Maratha states in central India. She had been one of the many concubines of the prince, who was captivated by her, but she did not return his feelings. While the entourage of the Maharajah was traveling, the girl had jumped off his private train, escaping to Amritsar, then to Bombay where she came under the protection of a rich merchant.
It was agreed that the crime on Malabar Hill could not be ignored: Mumtaz Begum had recognized her assailants as an aide-de-camp of the Maharajah and members of the Indore army and mounted police. The Maharajah's involvement in the crime was never made public but he was asked either to appear at the subsequent official inquiry or abdicate in favor of his son. In the following year he chose the latter course.
While traveling in Switzerland after his abdication, he met Nancy Ann Miller, a rich young American. Amid much publicity the couple married in 1928. The bride embraced the Hindu religion and subsequently became known as the Maharanee Shamista Davi Holkar. In 1946 Harry Winston bought the two pear-shaped diamonds, weighing 46.95 and 46.70 carats, which the Maharanee had worn on many occasions. Winston had the gems recut to 46.39 and 44.14 carats and shown in his famous exhibition called "The Court of Jewels". In 1953 he sold them to a client from Philadelphia, repurchasing them five years later and selling them to another client in New York.
In 1976, Winston bought the Indore Pears yet again before selling them to a member of a royal family. Robert Mouawad has been the owner after that.
Weight: 78.86 carats
Today Ahmad Abad, the capital of the State of Gujarat, is situated 350 miles north of Bombay on the Sabarmati River. The city has long been a center for trading and cutting diamonds, both of which are still pursued today. One visitor to Ahmad Abad in the seventeenth century was the celebrated French traveler and historian, Jean Baptiste Tavernier who, within the space of forty years, undertook six expeditions to the East. In chapter XXII of Part II of his Travels to India, Tavernier described some of the notable diamonds and rubies which he had seen during the course of his travels, often with illustrations, from which the following is extracted:
"No.4 represents a diamond which I bought at Ahmad Abad for one of my friends. It weighed 178 ratis, or 157 1/4 of our carats. No.51 represents the shape of the above mentioned diamond after it had been cut on both sides. Its weight was then 94 1/2 carats, the water being perfect. The flat side, where there were two flaws at the base, was as thin as a sheet of thick paper. When I had the stone cut I had this entire thin portion removed, together with a part of the point above, where a small speck of flaw still remains."
This is the sole instance of Tavernier supplying drawings of both the rough and polished states of a diamond. This briolette-shaped diamond was presumably cut in Ahmad Abad—after that, its history is uncertain. Who was the friend for whom Tavernier purchased the diamond? The most likely person was his sovereign, Louis XIV of France, to whom he had sold several diamonds which included two briolettes. But there has never been any reference to a diamond such as the Ahmad Abad entering the Crown Jewels of France. It is more probable that the "friend" was one of the emperor's courtiers, who would have bought the gem for the emperor.
The Ahmad Abad is next reported to have belonged to the Begum, Hazrat Mahal, the wife of King Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh, who had been exiled to Calcutta by the British following his refusal to sign a treaty of abdication at the time of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. She was a beautiful woman and an outspoken rebel leader at the time of the Mutiny. When British forces regained control after the rebellion, she was obliged to flee to Nepal where, it is said, she traded the diamond in return for her safe passage.
It is unlikely that the diamond has completely disappeared. It should be noted that its weight is lighter than that of the recorded weight of 90.5 carats of the Ahmad Abad; however, such a reduction may be explained by its transformation from a briolette to a pear shape. But of greater significance is the fact that this gem possesses a minor flaw at its base. Is it not probable that this is one of the two small specks of flaw which Tavernier stated had remained after the cutting had taken place? Therefore, it is possible that this diamond, besides possessing an inherent beauty found in the finest diamonds from the historic Golconda mines of India, is also a long lost gem.
The Ahmad Abad has been certified by the GIA as "D" colour, VS1 clarity and was accompanied by a working diagram indicating that the clarity is improvable.
Weight: 69.68 carats
On the evening of June 30, 1893, an African mine worker picked up an immense diamond in a shovelful of gravel which he was loading into a truck; he hid it from his overseer and delivered it directly into the hands of the mine manager. As a reward he he received? 500 and a horse equipped with saddle and bridle.
The diamond weighed 971 old carats, equivalent to 995.2 metric carats. It possessed the marvellous blue-white color characteristic of the finest Jagersfontein diamonds, especially cleavages, and was of very fine quality, although there were numerous internal black spots, another Jagersfontein characteristic. In shape the stone was flat on one side and rose to a peak on the other, rather like a loaf of rye bread. Apparently it was this fact which caused the diamond to be given the name of Excelsior, meaning higher.
Prior to the discovery of the Excelsior the only rival to the stone was the legendary Great Mogul of Indian origin, generally thought to have weighed 787.5 old carats.
After prolonged study it was decided to cleave the diamond into ten pieces: this operation resulted in the three largest pieces weighing 158, 147 and 130 carats. The polishing was supervised by Henri Koe and yielded 21 gems, ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. They totaled 373.75 carats which represented a loss in weight of almost 63 per cent. The final result, however, was considered to have been better than anyone had dared to forecast.
The Excelsior gems were sold separately, three of them being bought by Tiffany & Co., in their old store in Union Square in New York City. The names of the other buyers have not been disclosed but it is known that De Beers displayed one of the marquises at the New York World Fair in 1939.
The gem reappeared for sale in May 1991 when the GIA certified it as "G" color (rare white), and again in May 1996, when it was bought by Robert Mouawad.
Weight: 69.42 carats
Diamonds have no mercy. "They will show up the wearer if they can," says one character in The Sandcastle, an early novel by British writer Iris Murdoch. But is it applicable to Elizabeth Taylor? Those well-publicized gifts which she received from her fifth husband, the late Richard Burton, certainly enhance her appearance and do not look out of place on her. A rapport is established between the jewel and its wearer.
Richard Burton's first purchase for Elizabeth Taylor was the 33.19-carats emerald-cut Krupp diamond, in 1968. This had formerly been part of the estate of Vera Krupp, second wife of the steel magnate, Alfred Krupp. Taylor wore this stone in a ring. Next came the magnificent pearl known as La Peregrina for which Burton paid? 15,000.
For Elizabeth Taylor's fortieth birthday in 1972 Richard Burton gave her a heart-shaped diamond set with rubies in a pendant. "I would have liked to buy her the Taj Mahal," he remarked, "but it would cost too much to transport. This diamond has so many carats, it's almost a turnip." Then he added, "Diamonds are an investment. When people no longer want to see Liz and I on the screen, then we can sell off a few baubles."
By far the best known of Richard Burton's purchases was the 69.42-carats pear shape, later to be called the Taylor-Burton diamond. It was cut from a rough stone weighing 240.80 carats found in the Premier mine in 1966 and subsequently bought by Harry Winston.
After the rough piece of 240.80 carats had arrived in New York, Winston and his cleaver, Pastor Colon Jr, studied it for six months. Markings were made, erased and redrawn to show where the stone should be cleaved. There came the day appointed for the cleaving. In this instance the usual tension that surrounds such an operation was increased by the heat and the glare of the television lights that had been allowed into the workroom. After he had cleaved the stone, the 50-year-old cleaver said nothing--he reached across the workbench for the piece of diamond that had been separated and looked at it through horn-rimmed glasses for a fraction of a second before exclaiming "Beautiful!"
This piece of 78 carats was expected to yield a gem weighing around 24 carats, while the larger piece, of 162 carats, was destined to produce the pear shape whose weight had originally been expected to be about 75 carats.
In 1967 Winston sold the pear shape to Harriet Annenberg Ames, the sister of Walter Annenberg, the American ambassador in London during the Presidency of Richard Nixon. Two years later, she sent the diamond to Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York for auction.
The diamond was put up for auction on October 23, 1969, on the understanding that it could be named by the buyer. Before the sale speculation was rife as to who was going to bid for the gem, with the usual international names being bandied about by the columnists. The name of Elizabeth Taylor was among them, and she did indeed have a preview of the diamond when it was flown to Switzerland for her to inspect, then back to New York under precautions delicately described as "unusual".
The auctioneer began the bidding by asking if anyone would offer $200,000, at which the crowded room erupted with "Yes". Bidding then continued to climb and with nine bidders active, rushed to $500,000. At $500,000 the individual bids increased in $10,000 steps. At $650,000 only two bidders remained in the fray. When the bidding reached $1,000,000, Al Yugler of Frank Pollack, who was representing Richard Burton, dropped out. Pandemonium broke out when the hammer fell and the entire room stood up, so that the auctioneer could not identify who had won the prize, and he had to call for order. The winner was Robert Kenmore, the Chairman of the Board of Kenmore Corporation, the owners of Cartier Inc., who paid the record price of $1,050,000 for the gem, which he promptly named the "Cartier". The previous record price for a jewel had been $305,000 for a diamond necklace from the Rovensky estate in 1957.
As well as Richard Burton, Harry Winston had also been an under-bidder at the sale. But the former was not finished yet and he was determined to acquire the diamond. So, speaking from the pay-phone of a well-known hotel in the south of England, he spoke to Kenmore's agent. Sandwiched between the lounge bar and the saloon, Burton negotiated for the gem while continually shoving coins into the box.
Patrons quietly putting away their drinks would have heard the actor's ringing tones exclaiming, "I don't care how much it is; go and buy it." In the end Robert Kenmore agreed to sell it, but on condition that Cartier was able to display the stone, by now named the 'Taylor-Burton', in New York and Chicago. He did not deny that Cartier had made a profit: "We're businessmen, and we're happy that Miss Taylor is happy."
More than 6,000 people a day flocked to Cartier's New York store to see the Taylor-Burton, the crowds stretching down the block. Shortly afterwards Taylor wore the Taylor-Burton in public for the first time, when she attended Princess Grace's fortieth birthday party in Monaco. It was flown from New York to Nice in the company of two armed guards hired by Burton and Cartier. In 1978, following her divorce from Richard Burton, Taylor announced she was putting the diamond up for sale and was planning to use part of the proceeds to build a hospital in Botswana. In June of the following year Henry Lambert, the New York jeweller, stated that he had bought the Taylor-Burton for nearly $5,000,000. By December he had sold the Taylor-Burton to its present owner, Robert Mouawad.
Weight: 60.19 carats
The Mouawad Mondera is a superb flawless pear-shaped diamond weighing 60.19 carats. This breathtaking diamond is both unique in colour and clarity with excellent finish and proportions, ranking it a world-class gem. Robert Mouawad purchased the Mouawad Mondera, on 16 November 2000, as the latest addition to his impressive collection.
Weight: 42.92 carats
Grade: Fancy Blue
Originally known as the Tereschenko Diamond, the Mouawad Blue is the second-largest blue diamond in the world, exceeded only by the famous Hope Diamond. The Mouawad Blue, whose color grade is considered Fancy Blue, weighs 42.92 carats and carries a value of over $20 million. The precise location where the Tereschenko Blue Diamond was mined and the date it was recovered are unknown.
Believed to be of Indian origin, the diamond was first owned by the Tereschenko family of Russia, and around 1913 was set into a necklace by Cartier with 46 other diamonds of various colors, shapes, and sizes, and then eventually reunited with the owner in Paris in 1916. For several decades, the location of the Tereschenko Blue Diamond remained a mystery until it reappeared at a Christi’s auction in Geneva in 1984. Several diamond dealers had requested that the stone receive proper certification and be put on auction. The Gemological Institute of America graded and certified it, it went on auction, and was purchased by Robert Mouawad for $4.6 million, which at the time was the highest price ever paid for a diamond at auction.
The Mouawad Blue Diamond gets its unusual hue from the exposure to boron that it endured while being formed. Naturally-occurring blue diamonds account for only 0.1 percent of all natural diamonds. They are extremely rare and unique among colored diamonds and are capable semi-conductors of electricity. Robert Mouawad renamed the diamond the Mouawad Blue and it has remained a prize addition to the vast Mouawad diamond collection.
Weight: 27.33 carats
Shape/Cut: Emerald Cut
On August 13, 1938 Brazil revealed its greatest gem when a diamond weighing 726.6 carats was picked up in the gravels of the San Antonio River in the Coromandel district of Minas Gerais. Two garimpeiros (diamond diggers or prospectors), Joaquim Venancio Tiago and Manoel Miguel Domingues, were the lucky finders.
Their good fortune did not extend very far. Not long after they had sold the diamond to a broker for $56,000, the same man sold it for $235,000. The buyer in turn sold the gem to a Dutch syndicate represented by the Dutch Union Bank of Amsterdam. By then the diamond had been named "President Vargas" in honor of Getulio Dornelles Vargas, president of Brazil (1930-45 and 1951-54).
While the stone remained in the bank's safety deposit vault Harry Winston learned of its existence through his brokers in Brazil; they advised him of its rare quality and exceptional size. He travelled to London, then on to Amsterdam, where he finally purchased the President Vargas. The diamond was duly shipped to New York by ordinary registered mail at a cost of seventy cents although it had been insured by Lloyds for $750,000.
On account of its unusual formation it was decided to cleave the President Vargas. A 20-carat piece was sawn from the top before the first cleaving; from this a pear shape, weighing 10.05 carats, was fashioned. The cleaving of the diamond was to result in two pieces, one of 150 carats and the other of 550 carats.
In all, twenty-nine gems were fashioned from the President Vargas, nineteen sizeable and ten smaller ones weighing a total of 411.06 carats. They comprised sixteen emerald cuts, one pear shape, one marquise and, among the lesser gems, ten triangles and one baguette.
The name "President Vargas" has been retained by the largest gem, an emerald-cut weighing 48.26 carats. For a number of years this diamond was owned by the wife of Robert W. Windfohr of Fort Worth, Texas, who purchased it in 1944. In 1958 Harry Winston repurchased and recut it to a flawless 44.17 carats stone, selling it again in 1961. The identities of the other buyers are not known, but in 1948 was reported that the Gaekwar of Baroda had bought one of the Vargas gems.
In recent years two of the emerald cuts, numbers IV and VI, have come up for sale at Sotheby's in New York. In April 1989 President Vargas IV, weighing 28.03 carats, formerly among the jewels of Lydia Morrison, fetched $781,000, while in October 1992, President Vargas VI, weighing 25.4 carats, sold for $396,000.
Weight: 24.44 carats
Shape/Cut: Emerald Cut
Grade: Fancy Pink
Owned by Robert Mouawad in 1976, the Mouawad Lilac is a 24.44-carat, emerald-cut diamond with a color grading of fancy pink. It is one of the eight eponymous diamonds bearing the name Mouawad.
Weight: 21.06 carats
Shape: Cushion Octagonal Modified
Grade: Pink Natural VS1
The Mouawad Pink is a pink natural VS1 diamond with a cushion octagonal modified shape, and weighing 21.06 carats. The combination and modified cut brings out the brilliance and shows off the color of the diamond as in emerald-cut diamonds.
Named by its owner, Robert Mouawad, the Mouawad Pink continues the legacy of the remarkable Mouawad diamond collection. The renowned jewelry family, diamond connoisseurs and collectors currently have a collection of around 20 famous, historic and modern rare diamonds. The Mouawad diamond collection is arguably one of the largest, most valuable diamond collections in the world. The Mouawad Pink diamond is the smallest of the Mouawad collection, yet has a remarkable position due to its rareness and unique shape and with an estimated value of over $12 million US dollars.