Origin of Name
The diamond was named "Estrella do Sud" (Star of the
South), in French after a syndicate of diamond merchants in Paris led by
Halphen & Associates, purchased it in the early 1860s.
Characteristics of the
The diamond is a 128.48-carat, cushion-shaped stone, with
a clarity of VS2, and color grading of fancy light pinkish brown. It is a
type 11a diamond. The dimensions of the stone are 35 x 29 x 19 mm.
The diamond that was discovered accidentally by a
woman slave worker, in the mines of the province of Minas-Geraes, in Brazil
, in July 1853, has gone down in history as the first Brazilian diamond to
receive international acclaim.
The rough diamond weighed 254.5 carats and was unique in
that it was a naturally formed rhombic dodecahedral crystal having 24
natural facets. There was a deep depression on one of the facets, with a
shape that probably could have accommodated another octahedral crystal. A
few black inclusions were also seen in the stone that could have been caused
either by volcanic sand or titanic iron.
For the Negress who discovered the diamond and
subsequently surrendered the stone to her master Casimiro de Tal, the
discovery came as a great blessing, for the master rewarded her with her
freedom, according to the usual practice in Brazil, and granted her a
pension for life, in recognition of the exceptional size and value of her
find. But the magnanimity of her master towards her was not equally rewarded
by the person who purchased the diamond from him. Casimiro de Tal was
tricked into parting his diamond for a mere £ 3,000. The purchaser in turn
deposited it in the Bank of Rio de Janeiro, receiving an advance of no less
than £ 30,000 on it's security alone.
The stone then passed in it's rough state through several
hands until it was sold in the rough to Mr. Coster's Establishment in
Amsterdam, for £ 35,000. Mr. Coster entrusted the cutting of the diamond, to
his cutter Mr. Voorsanger, who after an extensive study of the rough
diamond, cut it into an elegant oval form of 128.48 carats, with a loss of
almost half of it's original weight. The cutting cost of the diamond was £
500. The cutting of the diamond appears to have been handled with great
judgment, although the best possible advantage has not perhaps been taken of
it's natural form. The reflected light is perfectly white, but the refracted
light gives the stone a rose tint. The unique phenomenon is attributed to
the peculiar prismatic form imparted to the crystal, perhaps unconsciously,
by the cutter.
After the intrinsic beauty of the stone was revealed
following the delicate cutting process, the diamond was cold by Coster to a
syndicate of diamond merchants in Paris led by Messrs. Halphen, who named
the stone "Estrella do Sud" or the "Star of the South." The syndicate then
exhibited the stone on two occasions, one in 1862 at the London
Exhibition, and the other in 1867 at the Paris Exhibition. On both occasions
the stone attracted the greatest attention, and it's fame spread far and
wide. The stone was then forwarded to a diamond dealing house in India, who
negotiated a bid of £ 110,000,on behalf of an Indian Maharajah, but
unfortunately the transaction fell through, as the parties were not able to
agree on the terms. The stone was then returned to representatives of the
syndicate Messrs. Halphen.
During the period of the diamond's stay in India, the
elite of the Indian Society had an opportunity to examine the rare and
beautiful stone, and glowing accounts of it's rare size and beauty reached
the Gaekwar of Baroda, Mulhar Rao. The prince instructed Mr. E. H. Dresden
of London and Paris, to negotiate the purchase of the diamond from the
Paris syndicate, on his behalf for eight lakhs of rupees, equivalent
to £ 80,000. Accordingly Mr. Dresden negotiated with the syndicate and
purchased the diamond for £ 80,000, on behalf of the Prince. According to
Mr. Dresden, it was the same Maharajah of Baroda, who purchased the famous
collection of diamonds belonging to the Empress of Napoleon 111,, through
the firm Smith, Fleming & Co.
The Maratha Prince of Gaekwar who purchased the Star of
the South, was later involved in a sensational case, in which he was charged
with the murder of some of his subjects, by poisoning with diamond dust. He
was arrested after having tried to eliminate the British resident of Baroda,
Colonel Phayre by similar means. The Gaekwar was subsequently
arraigned before a specially constituted tribunal, found guilty and deposed
from his throne.
The "Star of the South" diamond remained with the Gaekwar
family probably until the end of the 20th century. The " Star of the
South " diamond was mounted on a special necklace together with the
78.5-carat English Dresden in 1880. Later the necklace was slightly modified
by adding more diamonds and in 1948 , the Maharani of Baroda Sita Devi
was photographed wearing the modified version, at her husband's birthday
party. The last recorded presence of the diamond in India was in 2002, when
Cartier bought it from Rustomjee Jamsetjee of Mumbai.
transaction and present owners of the diamond
The last known transaction of the diamond was in the year 2002, when Cartier
purchased the stone from Rustomjee Jamsetjee of Mumbai. It is not known
whether the diamond is still with Cartier or whether it has been
disposed of subsequently.
of the diamond
The "Star of the South" diamond is a pinkish-brown
diamond. Pink and brown are two colors that can show up in colorless
diamonds (type 11a diamonds), as a result of plastic deformation of the
crystal caused by twisting and bending of the tetrahedral crystal units, as
the diamond rose to the surface of the earth after it's formation in
the earth's mantle, at least 200 Km below the surface of the earth. The
whole process from the formation of the crystals until they reach the
surface of the earth took about 3 billion years.
Plastically deformed areas of the crystal absorb
light in different regions of the visible spectrum imparting colors
such as pink, red, purple, orange, and brown.
Therefore, the "Star of the South" diamond is a
plastically deformed type 11a diamond.