HISTORICAL DIAMONDS ARE A RARITY by any definition. This superb 76.02 carat gem derives its name from the first known owner, Joseph August Victor Clemence Maria, Archduke of Austria and Palatinate of Hungary, great-grandson of Emperor Leopold II of the House of Habsburg, one of the primary ruling dynasties of Europe. This historic diamond is graded as D color, with internally flawless clarity.
This almost indefinable water-clear appearance is characteristic of stones from the Golconda mine. The mines of this area are believed to have been the source of many of the world's most famous diamonds such as the Koh-i-Noor and the Regent. Unfortunately, these mines were depleted in the mid-eighteenth century. No other sources have been found since that produce diamonds of such extraordinary limpidity.
THE ARCHDUKE JOSEPH DIAMOND
The mention of the Empress Maria Teresa may serve as a reminder of the famous Florentine diamond one of the great gems of history and for many years an heirloom of the Habsburgs. But whereas the ‘Florentine’ was, unusually for a large Indian diamond, light yellow in color, the Archduke Joseph is a colorless gem. It possesses the most notable characteristics of the finest Golconda diamonds, namely an internal limpidity. Hence, its D- color certification.
The ‘Archduke Joseph' is cut as a somewhat old-fashioned cushion shape, perhaps a style of cutting that is not wholly incongruous with its Indian provenance. Is it entirely fanciful to suggest that improvements in the techniques of cutting diamonds are more suited to diamonds found principally in Africa during this century?
Duke Joseph Carl Ludwig
The Archduke Joseph – ‘Joseph of Alcsut’ as he generally became known – was the eldest son of Duke Joseph Carl Ludwig and Princess Clothilde of Saxe-Coburg. In 1893 he married Augusta, daughter of Princess Leopold of Bavaria and Duchess Gisela, and a granddaughter of the Emperor Franz Joseph. He began his distinguished military career in 1902 when he enlisted in the Hungarian territorial reserve, simultaneously studying law at Budapest University.
In the First World War, as Commander of the Sixth Army, he gained a notable victory at Montello; then after the death of the Emperor Franz Joseph he became Commander of the Hungarian front-line forces, reconquering the eastern section of Siebenburgen and initiating the negotiations for a cease-fire. By 1918 he had attained the rank of Field Marshal. In October of that year he was named Regent of Hungary by the Emperor Charles I, but his efforts to form a government were overturned by the onset of the 31 October Revolution, wherupon he retired to his Alcsut estate.
During the so-called Traitor Republic, on account of his great popularity, Archduke Joseph was put under surveillance but was permitted to remain at Alcsut. In August 1919 he did succeed in becoming Regent of Hungary, albeit for merely two months, before he was compelled to resign because Allies would not allow a Habsburg to hold a commanding position in Hungary. At War, he emigrated to the United States. Finally, he returned to Europe to live with his sister, Princess Margatere con Thurn and Taxis in Regensburg and became a writer, publishing several reminiscences and historical studies. He died in 1962 not completely retired from politics, becoming a member of the Upper House soon after its restoration.
It is believed that at some point he gave the diamond to his son, Joseph Francis (1895 – 1957). Minutes taken in June of 1933 record that the diamond, then property of Archduke Joseph, was at the time deposited with the Hungarian General Credit Bank in the presence of a State Counselor. Three years later the diamond was sold to a European banker who left it in a safe deposit box in France during the war where it fortunately escaped the attention of the Nazis.
The whereabouts of the stone remained a mystery until it came up for an auction in London in June 1961. At the time it was believed to be the largest unmounted fine quality diamond ever to have been auctioned in Great Britan, but it was withdrawn from sale when the bidding stopped at 145,000 British pounds. Subsequently it was reported that a syndicate of Hatton Garden buyers had made an unsuccessful bid for the gem. It came up for sale again at Christie’s in Geneva in November 1993 when it sold to a private estate.
In October of 1999, the Archduke Joseph diamond was purchased by Alfredo J. Molina, owner of Molina Fine Jewelers.
Habsburg Family Coat Of Arms