Feb 8th, 2013
There are various different opinions concerning the history of this 135.92 carat cushion shape diamond. It owes its impressive size to an owner whose blessed foresight – or perhaps stubbornness – to ignore professional advice allowed the stone to fulfill its destiny as one large diamond instead of being cut into two smaller ones.
The Dutch firm of F. Friedman & Co. cut it into its present shape in 1904. They owned it for a number of years, exhibiting it at the 1925 Paris Exhibition of Arts & Industry. The Dutch sovereign for whom this stone is named was Queen Wilhelmina, who reigned from 1890 to 1948.
This suggests the possibility that the Queen of Holland was mined in South Africa. Nothing is known of the diamond’s earlier history until it arrived in Amsterdam at a time when numberous South African diamonds were finding their way there. Yet there are experts that think the Queen of Holland is a typical Golconda stone. Although it is a white diamond it does possess a definite blue tint. The Gemological Institute of America has graded the stone as D IF, one of the largest of that quality known.
Whatever the truth may be, the diamond does have an Indian connection. In 1930 it attracted the attention of Shri Kumar Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji, the Maharaja of Nawanagar. His interest in the Queen of Holland Diamond was aroused in 1930. In his book The Magic of Diamonds, Albert Monnickendam writes how he received a phone call from the Prince’s Court Jeweller asking him to visit the Maharaja at his magnificent house at Staines, outside London. After lunch he accompanied the Maharaja to a large room flooded with north light from a bay window. As well as the Maharaja, ADC and the Court Jeweller were present.
“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… His Highness asked me to sit near him and to my amazement opened the lid of a box and took out a magnificent diamond of about 130 carats set in a pendant. He placed it in my hands asking, ‘What do you think of this?’
On examination I found the stone to be absolutely perfect, of the finest color and quality. In fact it resembled the famous Regent Diamond in every way. Whilst I was examining the diamond, I felt the Maharaja’s eyes continually watching me, and when I looked up there was an expression of please and hope on his face. It was obvious that he was greatly fascinated by the 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 Maharaja of Nawanagar did purchase the Queen of Holland and Cartier set it as the centerpiece of the pendant to a 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 Maharaja’s family and sent it to their London branch in 1960 where it was put on offer. In 1978 William Goldberg of New York purchased the diamond and it was re-cut, with minor alterations, from 136.25 carats to its present weight. Later that year it was sold for a reputed $7 million. The gem is now owned by Robert Mouawad.
Antique Jewellery University