Feb 15th, 2013
The Porges Diamond is a fancy yellow, SI1 diamond weighing 78.53 carat and was bought by Harry Winston in 1962 who named it, as a tribute to the French diamond mining pioneer, Jules Porges. The diamond is most probably of South African origin, but any other details are lacking.
By the time diamonds were discovered in South Africa, Jules Porges had already amassed a tremendous fortune and was considered the leading diamond merchant in the world. Quickly realizing the potential of these newly discovered mines, he dispatched Alfred Beit and Julius Wernher in 1873 to act as his representatives in this new venture and in 1876, Porges himself arrived in Kimberley, playing the unusual role as both consumer and producer of diamonds. Although he had invested in the mining rights of the four major mines (De Beers, Bultfontein, Dutoitspan, and Kimberley), by 1879 he was almost completely focused on Kimberley and had become a close associate of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes eventually convinced the French investors to sell their shares to the newly formed De Beers firm. He quietly retired in 1890.
Alfred Beit was born into a prominent Jewish family in Germany. Beit worked for Jules Porges’ diamond firm, Jules Porges and Co. in Amsterdam before emigrating to the then ‘Cape Colony’ in 1875 during the Kimberley diamond-rush. Beit was part of a group of financiers, including Cecil John Rhodes, who gained control of the diamond-mining claims in the Central Mine, Dutoitspan Mine, and De Beers Mine, thereby ‘consolodating’ the South African mining industry into what became known as the De Beers monopoly.
Beit, along with his partner Cecil Rhodes, financed the 1895 ‘Jameson Raid’ which was an attempt to trigger an unsuccessful coup in the South African Republic of Transvaal, and would eventually manipulate the United Kingdom into the 3-year Anglo-Boer War. If Cecil john Rhodes and his accomplices were alive today, they’ll most likely be brought to trail for crimes against humanity.
Harry Winston designed two different pieces of jewelry for the Asscher shape. The first of these is a simple ring mount and the second a unique brooch made up of cabochon cut emerald rubies and other old-mine cut and old-European cut diamonds, in which the Porges diamond could be mounted as the centerpiece. The Porges diamond was expected to play a dual role, depending on the circumstances. When the diamond was to be worn as a ring it was transferred to the gold ring mount, and when it was to be worn as a brooch, the diamond was made the center piece of the brooch mount.
On April 19th and 20th, 2004, the Porges diamond figured at a Christie’s magnificent Jewels sale. An estimate of $ 600,000 to 800,000, was put on the stone. The diamond was put on auction together with its unique brooch setting, the gold ring mount and a screw driver, to enable the diamond to be transferred back and forth as and when the occasion demanded.