One of the world’s most celebrated diamonds will come up for auction for the second time at Christie’s in Hong Kong on November 27. With a history stretching back more than 500 years, its major claim to fame is its brief association with a certain Hollywood star by the name of Marilyn Monroe.
The Moon of Boroda is a 24.04-carat pear-shaped, VS2, fancy yellow colored diamond. It is believed to have been discovered in India’s famed Golconda mine, after which it came into the hands of the the Maharajas of Baroda, the royal family of Gaekwad, hence its name. It was said to have weighed 25.95 carats when it was mined.
The Moon of Baroda, a 24.02-carat fancy yellow color pear-shaped diamond, which will come up for auction for the second time at Christie’s in Hong Kong on November 27.
Legend has it that the diamond made its way to Europe, where it was held for a time by Empress Marie Thérèse of Austria, who was the only female monarch of the Habsburg dynasty, ruling for 40 years. She, incidentally, was the mother of Marie Antoinette, the future Queen of France, who also is said to have had an appetite for diamonds, which in part may have been responsible for her losing her head – literally – at the guillotine in the wake of the French Revolution.
After a sojourn in Europe, the Moon of Boroda returned to its native India, where in 1860 it was fitted to a necklace. Little is known about its history for the next 66 years, but records exist of the Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad welling it to an unknown buyer in the 1920s.
HOLLYWOOD’S BEST FRIEND
The stone resurfaced in 1944, when it was acquired by Samuel H. Deutsch, who owned a diamond cutting company in Cleveland, Ohio. Nine years later, in 1953, he sold it to Meyer Rosenbaum, the president of Meyer Jewelry Company in Detroit, Michigan.
It was then that the Moon of Baroda achieved superstar status. Ms. Monroe was on a publicity tour for her breakout comedy Gentleman Prefer Blondes, which featured the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Meyer Jewelry offered to lend the stone to 20th Century Fox as a publicity stunt. According to the studio’s press office, her reaction when first seeing the stone was “it’s gorgeous!”
The photo taken of Ms. Monroe wearing the diamond became famous as well. A copy of the shot, with a handwritten message from the actress, stating “Thanks for the chance to wear the Moon of Baroda,” will be offered together with the stone in Hong Kong.
IS THE DIAMOND CURSED?
It’s worth noting that the diamond is said the carry a curse that strikes every time the gem travels overseas. Its 18th Century stay in Europe ended with the death of Empress Marie Thérèse, and some say that Ms. Monroe’s career faltered after she wore it in 1953.
When the Moon of Baroda was auctioned for the first time at Christie’s in New York in 1990 it was bought for $297,000. The Marilyn Monroe legend was then said to have been the the factor that effectively tripled its low estimate.
This time the pre-sale estimate is $500,000 to $750,000, and it is interesting to see whether Marilyn’s magic will work once again. It may, considering that the autographed picture of the actress wearing the diamond by itself carries a pre-sale valuation of $10,000 to $15,000.
The autographed photo of Marilyn Monroe, which will be auctioned along with the Moon of Baroda in Hong Kong.