The Fascinating Dresden Green Diamond
In the summer of 2000, a remarkable event took place in the Harry Winston Gallery at
the Smithsonian Institution. Culminating a twelve-year quest of Ronald Winston,
the Dresden Green Diamond was displayed alongside the famous Blue Hope Diamond.
This 40.70carat green diamond has long been considered to be the “sister” stone
to the legendary Hope, which it closely matches in size, intensity of color and
historical importance. The Dresden Green remained in the Smithsonian until
January of 2001, when it returned to the Albertinium Museum in Dresden.
this is the story of a truly rare gem, a look into the phenomenon which creates
green diamonds is helpful. The green color is usually caused by the crystal’s
coming into contact with a radioactive source at some point during its creation,
which in geological terms is millions of years. The change in color is caused
by the change in the crystal’s lattice structure. Before it is bombarded by
radioactive particles, the crystal’s lattice is stable but the initial shock is
sufficient enough to disturb the equilibrium and produce the green coloration.
Research has disclosed that natural green or irradiated (by nature) diamonds
are more common from alluvial deposits (water ways), but natural green diamonds
of any size are rare. The Dresden Green, which probably weighed over 100 carats
in its rough form, is exceptionally unique among gems.
A Passage Through Time
This amazing diamond gets its name from the capital of Saxony where it has been
displayed for more than 200 years. The earliest known reference to the stone
however comes from a London “news-sheet” of the 1700’s, in an issue dated
October 25th-27th, 1722. Mr. Marcus Moses, an important
diamond merchant in London during the first part of the 18th century was noted as having shown
the diamond to his Majesty, King George I. Another early reference is found in
a letter dated from 1726, when the diamond was offered to Frederick Augustus I
by a London merchant. He did not purchase it, but his son Frederick Augustus II
became its first royal owner. He accumulated a collection of crown jewels as
the ruler of Saxony. He set aside a group of rooms in Dresden Castle to house
his collection of jewels and other treasures and named it the Green Vault. The
contents of this Vault were shepherded to the fortress of Konigstein during the
Seven Years War, but then remained on display in Saxony until the beginning of
World War II. In 1942 they were removed again to Konigstein, thus escaping the
shattering air raid that devastated Dresden. Later that year the Soviet
Trophies Commission, which had made its headquarters near the center of the
ruined city, took the Dresden Green Diamond and the other contents of the Green
Vault to Moscow. They were returned in 1958.
The Gemological Institute of America examined the stone in 1988 and proved the
diamond to be of extraordinary quality and also a rare type IIA diamond. The
clarity grade was determined to be VS1 with the potential to be slightly re-cut
to enhance its clarity grade into an internally flawless diamond. The color was
determined to be natural. Unbelievably, the GIA graded the symmetry good and
the polish very good which is amazing for a diamond cut prior to 1741. Ending
it’s similarities to the Hope Diamond, The Dresden Green does not have any
“jinx, curses or bad luck” associated with it. These features, along with its
colorful historic past, make this Diamond a “Gem” among rare stones.
Written by Wendy Adeler Hall
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