The Idol’s Eye is a 70.21-carat Golconda diamond, possessing a blue tinge characteristic of many diamonds from that source, and shaped like an Old Mine cut – but with nine main facets instead of eight.
• Weight: 70.21 carats
• Dimensions: 26.1mm x 24.53mm x 13.43mm
• Colour: Very light blue
• Rough weight: unknown
• Origin: India
• Date found: early 1600s
• Current location: privately owned
There are nine corresponding pavilion facets and a number of non-symmetrical facets scattered around the crown and pavilion of the stone. Considering this shape, it’s not difficult to envisage the gem as an eye, giving a fair clue as to the origin of its name. What is less clear is the gem’s history.
The first authenticated fact in the diamond’s history was its appearance at a Christie’s sale in London on July 14, 1865. It was described as “a splendid, large diamond set with 18 smaller brilliants.”
It is said that the Idol’s Eye was bought by Ottoman Emperor Abdul Hamid II. When exiled in 1909, Hamid II dispatched his jewels; however, his servant-turned-traitor sold them in Paris.
It is known that the gem was one of several large diamonds that came up for auction in Paris on June 24, 1909. There, it was purchase by a Spanish nobleman and stored in a London bank for some years.
After the end of World War II, the Idol’s Eye was sold to Harry Winston who sold it May Bonfils Stanton. From her early childhood, Stanton displayed an interest in jewels. In addition to the Idol’s Eye, she held the Liberator diamond and a diamond necklace studded with 12 emeralds weighing 107 carats.
Yet, she was said to have worn the Idol’s Eye at her solitary breakfast every morning. The gem was set as the pendant to a diamond necklace containing 41 round brilliants totalling about 22.50 carats, plus another 45 baguettes weighing about 12 carats. After her death, Stanton’s jewels were auctioned in New York, and the proceeds distributed among various charities.
Chicago jeweller Harry Levinson bought the Idol’s Eye for $US375,000 and loaned it to De Beers for an exhibition at the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg in 1967.
Six years later, Levinson put the diamond up for sale in New York but withdrew it when the bidding failed to reach his $US1.1 million reserve.
In 1979, Laurence Graff acquired the Idol’s Eye for display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, after which it was sold, together with the Emperor Maximilian and a 70.54-carat, fancy-yellow diamond named the Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
The sale is considered to have been one of the highest-priced transactions on record.
ABOUT SCOTT SUCHER
When one thinks of diamonds, Tijeras, New Mexico is not the first place that springs to mind, but it’s home to Scott Sucher, the Master behind the research and replicas that form the World Famous Diamonds.
Scott Sucher’s lifelong interest in geology commenced when a local museum hosted an exhibition of famous diamonds made of quartz when he was just a young boy. Whenever he could find time in his busy life, he published a collection of internet articles and lectures.
After retirement, Sucher returned to stone cutting with renewed vigour when a Discovery Channel producer requested help for a program on famous diamonds. The 14-month collaboration resulted in Unsolved History: the Hope Diamond, which first aired in February 2005.
The program gave Sucher the chance to handle the unset Hope diamond, the 31-carat Blue Heart diamond and Napoleon’s necklace – a 234-diamond necklace that Napoleon gave to his second wife Marie-Louise.
Sucher then worked with the Natural History Museum in London to recreate a replica of the historic Koh-i-noor. The entire process took 12 months – photo analysis took four months alone – and concluded in July 2007. The cutting alone took 46 hours, and Sucher likened it to “brain surgery, as one mistake can be non-recoverable.”
Sucher continues his work in partnership with many other experts and museums in the field. If anyone knows anything about the world’s most famous diamonds, it’s Scott Sucher.
To follow his ongoing works click here.