antique-estate-jewelry

The Idol’s Eye Diamond

by on October 26, 2011

The Idol’s Eye diamond weighs 70.21 carats and is described as a “blue white Golconda diamond”. Golconda is a mine in India known for its colorless and inclusion free diamonds. These diamonds are so rare that they would today probably only be seen at a Christie’s or another well-known auction house. The Idol’s Eye diamond is shaped like a combination old mine cut and triangular brilliant possessing a “slight bluish tinge”. The first mention of this diamond was in July 14, 1865.

It was later stated that the 34 Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918) owned the Idol’s Eye. It is unclear where its name came from as the stone would not have been set in an idol in a country that was Muslim since the 8th century A.D. The Sultan Abdul Hamid was defeated in the very early 1900’s and in 1909, he lived in exile until he died in Instanbul in 1918. He made plans for his retirement sensing the political unease which included sending his jewels to a safe place. The servant he entrusted with this task turned out to be a traitor and sold the jewels in Paris. They later came up for sale in Paris on June 24, 1909. Later, a Spanish nobleman bought the Idol’s Eye diamond but kept it in his bank for years.

In 1946, the Idol’s Eye appeared and was purchased by a Dutch diamond dealer who sold it to Harry Winston in 1946. He then sold it to May Bonfils Stanton. She was known to have had a generous collection of jewelry since she was a young girl. She lived in self-imposed isolation and was known to have worn the Idol’s Eye diamond during her solitary morning breakfasts. After her death in 1962, all her jewels including the Idol’s Eye were auctioned off by Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York and the proceeds were given to her special charities.

Harry Levinson, a Chicago jeweler bought the Idol’s Eye for his wife for $375,000 who then sold it to Laurence Graff in 1979. Before the sale Levinson loaned the diamond to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The following January the Idol’s Eye and two other very large diamonds were sold to an unknown buyer.

 

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