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Cartier and America  – Star of South Africa Diamond

Cartier and America – Star of South Africa Diamond

                                   Getty Images

                                    Cartier Star of South Africa Diamond

"I had the honor to contribute to the audio tour for the Cartier and America exhibit.    There were many jewels and items that I had read about over the years and to see them in person and have my input recorded for the thousands of visitors will remain a highlight of my life." Janet Deleuse

The “Star of South Africa” diamond was discovered in 1869 and started the ‘diamond fever’ quest to own diamonds throughout the world.

The famous diamond is said to have been purchased from a young herdsman on the Zendfontein farm on the Orange River in South Africa. The herdsman sold the diamond in exchange for five hundred sheep, ten oxen and a horse.

Louis Hond, the French diamond cutter, was chosen to cut the existing 47.69  cts. pear shape diamond from the rough diamond rock found.  The pear shape diamond was sold  to the Countess of Dudley.

The countess had the diamond ‘baptized’ by her local priest for good luck.  She commissioned her jeweler to create a tiara with the diamond in the center.  She was known to have worn it  frequently.

The American Industrialist  J. P. Morgan purchased the diamond and had a brooch designed by Pierre Cartier at the House of Cartier in New York in 1910. The 47.69 carat pear shaped diamond was set into a pendant brooch with oval and round old mine cut diamonds in a lily of the valley motif.

The famous diamond remains in the current Cartier design. This historic diamond was last sold by Christie’s in Geneva in 1971.

The “Star of South Africa” is part of Cartier’s archival heritage and will be on display at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, December 19th – April 18th 2010. 

Janet Deleuse, All Rights Reserved

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