The Arcot Diamonds

30.06.08

Arcot Diamonds

Arcot Diamonds - earrings

Very Versatile diamonds

The Arcot diamonds have adorned myriad pieces of stunning jewellery. They have been set in a king's crown, a queen's tiara and a duchess's tiara with detachable Arcot earrings, an unusual brooch, two diamond solitaire rings and a stunning necklace surrounded by hundreds of other diamonds!  They are the most versatile diamonds and are truly magnificent in all their guises.

A Stunning Gift

The Arcot diamonds were originally gifted to England's Queen Charlotte in 1777 by the ruler of Arcot in India in thanks and recognition of England's help in fighting conflicts in the Arcot region. The two main Arcot diamonds are pear shaped drops, the largest being either 33+ or 38+ carats (depending on which reference you believe), and the next one being around 23 carats. Queen Charlotte had a particular fondness for gems and jewellery and was delighted by these fabulous new jewels.

"Lumps of Glass!"

The Marquess of Westminster bought the Arcots for £10,000 as a birthday present for his wife, along with other significant gems. The Westminsters held the diamonds for quite some time. In that time, the Arcots were set and mounted in a brooch, which apparently were not always received well, one onlooker asking in astonishment why anyone would want to pin those "lumps of glass" on themselves!

In 1930 the diamonds were set in an amazing tiara by French jeweller Lacloche, alongside almost 1500 tiny diamonds. The Arcots could be separated from the tiara and worn as earrings.

Recutting the Diamonds

 

Harry Winston bought the Arcots for £100,000 in 1959 when the Duke of Westminster was forced to sell them to meet death duties. At the time this was a record price for the sale of jewellery. Winston immediately had the Arcots re-cut to bring out their brilliance, making the larger (Arcot I) 30.99 carats and the smaller (Arcot II) 18.85 carats. These diamonds were then remounted in solitaire rings and sold to private buyers.

The Arcot I was later reset by Van Cleef and Arpels as a most beautiful and eye-catching necklace (aside), which was sold in 1993 at Christies to Sheik Ahmed Hassan Fitaih for an amazing £918,243.

Arcot Diamonds - necklace by Van Cleef and Arpels

Magical, Mysterious Diamonds

Who knows when and where we will next see the Arcots, and in what guise! They have so far adorned crowns, tiaras, earrings, brooches, rings and necklaces, and I, for one, can't wait to see what spectacular incarnation comes next.

About

Dianne is the Customer Services fairy for online jewellery company 1791 Diamonds Limited, proud supplier of New Zealand made designer diamond engagement rings.

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