The Emperor Maximilian Diamond

As a sister article to the blog post about the Maximilian Diamond, HERE, the Emperor Maximilian is a 41.94 carat cushion cut diamond, first known of in Brazil in the mid 19th century.

As discussed in the other blog post, both stones first come onto the scene in the 1860s, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria travelled to Brazil. He was the younger brother of the Emperor of Austria, and rumoured to have been the secret child of Napoleon. A keen observer of nature, he had travelled there on a botanical expedition (a subject that had fascinated him since childhood). While in Brazil, he purchased two stones; the larger became known as the Emperor Maximilian.

The stone is a near colourless, cushion-cut diamond, VS1 clarity. The Emperor Maximilian diamond falls within the I colour range. An interesting characteristic of the diamond is the strong blue (somewhat violet) fluorescence shown by the stone in natural daylight, which tends to reduce any yellow tinge in the diamond.

The stone was a treasured possession of Maximilian; when his body was examined after his execution by firing squad in 1867 it was discovered that he had been wearing the diamond in a small satchel tied around his neck. After the execution the Emperor’s body was returned to his family in Vienna, and the diamond given to his widow. He was only 35 years old.

The problems faced by her husband ever since he was installed as emperor of Mexico, and the strain of her attempts to seek help for her husband, had a profound effect on Princess Carlota. She suffered serious emotional collapse and severe mental difficulties. The princess remained mentally deranged until her death in 1927.

The Emperor Maximilian diamond was sold in order to pay for the medical expenses of the princess. For a long period the whereabouts of the diamond was unknown. It next reappeared in 1919, when it was purchased by a Chicago gem dealer, Ferdinand Hotz.

The Emperor Maximilian diamond was exhibited at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago held in 1933/34. Holtz rejected several offers to buy the diamond, and owned it until his death in 1946.

It was sold to an anonymous private collector in New York City.

The Emperor Maximilian diamond then came into the possession of Laurence Graff, the renowned diamond dealer.

In 1983, the diamond (together with the 70.21-carat Idol’s Eye diamond and the 70.54-carat Sultan Abdul Hamid II diamond) was sold by Laurence Graff to Imelda Marcos, the wife of the former President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos.

The final public appearance of the diamond came in 2010, when, (after a recutting which brought its weight to 39.55 carats), the stone was sold at Christies New York for $1,762,500.