GENEVA, Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire – It was history in the making at Christie’s Geneva tonight as one of the world’s most famous and historic diamonds, the Archduke Joseph, sold for $18.8 million. The Archduke Joseph, an awe-inspiring 76.02 carat D color, Internally Flawless Golconda diamond, was the grand finale of Christie’s sale of Magnificent Jewels, held at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues.
Alfredo J. Molina, Chairman of Black, Starr & Frost, remarked, “The Archduke Joseph Diamond is considered the finest and largest perfect Golconda diamond ever to appear at auction, with a noble lineage and royal provenance literally ‘Fit for a Queen.’ I was privileged to be its guardian and champion for the past 13 years, but now it is time for the Archduke to continue on its immortal journey.”
One of the largest known diamonds from the legendary Golconda mines in India, where diamonds were discovered some 3,000 years ago, the Archduke Joseph is comparable in origins and magnitude to the Koh-i-Noor in the British Crown Jewels. The Archduke Joseph Diamond took its name from its last-known and illustrious owner, the Archduke Joseph, a Habsburg prince of the Hungarian branch of the noble European dynasty.
Jewelry historian Vivienne Becker said, “It has been fascinating to see the almost visceral response to the soulful beauty of the Archduke Joseph Diamond. The fact that it has come from the collection of Black, Starr & Frost, one of the most distinguished names in 19th and 20th century jewelry, brings the story full circle. Black, Starr & Frost, the earliest American jeweler, revitalized today under the direction of Alfredo Molina, brought important diamonds, as well as dynamic design, to the most sophisticated American collectors of the day.”
THE ARCHDUKE JOSEPH AND BLACK, STARR & FROST
The sale of the Archduke Joseph marks a milestone, not only in auction history but also in the fascinating narrative of Black, Starr & Frost. Founded in 1810 and known as “America’s First Jeweler,” the company has a rich diamond heritage, and a reputation for creating masterpieces of American jewelry. In 1928, it sold the 127.01 carat Portuguese diamond, for $373,000, to the famous Vaudeville star Peggy Hopkins Joyce. She was widely considered to be the model for the diamond-adoring Lorelei Lee in “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”
Black, Starr & Frost catered to the cream of American society, throughout the prosperity of the mid to late 19th century and America’s glittering Gilded Age. Clients included the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Carnegies and Guggenheims.
The company was acquired in 2006 by the Molina Group, under the chairmanship of Mr. Molina. His aim is to revitalize the name of Black, Starr & Frost, and its reputation for design-driven jewels of the finest quality, and to restore this historic company to its position at the pinnacle of American luxury.