Have you ever heard of the famous “El Estanque” diamond? It is a beautiful blue coloured diamond that weighed about 100 carats!
King Philip II of Spain who acquired the rough diamond in Antwerp, and paid 80,000 escudos for it. It was cut in Spain, although it is uncertain whether in Madrid or Seville. The result was a beautifully crafted, carré-cut diamond, of absolute clarity with a seductive, deep blue. It was called “El Estanque”, which translates into “the Pond”.
A Legendary Jewel
The diamond was part of a legendary piece of jewellery legendary, not only because of the presence of the diamond but also because it was accompanied by one of the most famous pearls; ‘La Peregrina’ – also acquired by Philip II. It must be said that this man had good taste! The pearl was tear-drop-shaped, of significant size and extraordinary beauty due to its mysterious shades of pink. The pond diamond was used in a 20 carat gold brooch. Its large pearl was placed hanging under the diamonds to completed the uniqueness of the brooch.
The jewel was the wedding gift from Phillip II to his third wife, Elizabeth of Valois, but it is known – thanks to a painting – that this piece of jewellery was also worn by Mary Tudor, his previous wife. In any case, this jewel was known as one of the most valuable of the collection of the Spanish crown. Today we can even admire it in several paintings, namely those on which monarchs were portrayed: Mary Tudor, Anna of Austria, Margaret of Austria and Isabella of Bourbon.
“El Estanque” Lost forever
When Joseph Bonaparte gained power in Spain in 1808, the fate of the jewel changed. The Frenchman’s adventure in Spain was short-lived and when Joseph fled the country, he took a large part of the Spanish crown jewels. The famous brooch was also in there. The ‘La Peregrina’ reappeared, but never returned to Spain. In 1969, it was purchased in an auction by the actor Richard Burton for $ 37,000, and thus landed in Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery collection.
But the marvellous diamond met a tougher fate: after countless purchases and sales, pledges and possessions, it was cut into smaller pieces. Therefore, nobody recognised this gem was once a part of the Spanish crown. It is said that the diamond pieces came to the collection of the Russian Imperial family – the Romanovs. Today it is very difficult to find out if this really was so as the Tsar’s treasures were largely lost during the Bolshevik revolution. The thought that this 100 karat diamond was cut into smaller pieces, gives me a stomach-ache!
Blue gemstones are very popular. A blue diamond is very special, but the variety of blue gemstones is great.
Aquamarine is mostly bright blue and is surrounded by many legends, which I will discuss at another time. Swiss blue topaz shows a deep royal blue and his brother, the London blue topaz, a somewhat darker, suggestive blue. Tanzanite is a very popular gem, with its seductive blue and many violet shades. Kyanite from Tibet has a colour that experts like Don Kogen compare with the colour of Blue Kashmir Sapphire. Blue gemstones are not lacking, on the contrary, here we are plagued with the agony of choice!