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The English Dresden Diamond

The English Dresden diamond weighed 119 carat when it was found in 1857 within diggings by the River Bagagem in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The rough was purchased by an English diamond merchant named Edward Dresden and sent to London for evaluation. It was later sent to Coster, in Amsterdam, for cutting. This beautiful diamond had difficulty finding a buyer in spite of the fact that it was cut into a 76.50 carat pear-shape with remarkable diamond clarity and exceptional diamond color.

When compared side-by-side with the Koh-I-Nor diamond it was judged to be superior on both counts. The English Dresden was offered to several members of the ruling houses of Europe without success. “Half-interest” in the gem was offered to a noted London jeweler, for a relatively small sum, yet he declined. Indian merchants traveled to London to buy it, in 1863, but were turned away by the asking price.

In 1864, an English merchant working out of Bombay, India was able to purchase the diamond from Mr. Dresden and brokered the sale through one of his agents. A buyer had been arranged who had considerable holdings in the cotton trade. A world wide shortage, triggered by the American Civil War, had caused cotton to rise to a level where it created a small fortune for the perspective buyer and they were able to strike a deal. The English Dresden was sold for $200,000. Shortly after that purchase, the owner died, and his estate had to be settled. The beautiful pear-shaped diamond was acquired by Mulhar Rao, the governor of Baroda, India. The English Dresden was now in India. It remained in the jewels of Baroda until 1934, when it was sold privately to Cursetjee Fardoonji. It’s been in hiding, in India, ever since. This diamond may have been named the English Dresden to differentiate it from other “Dresden” diamonds. The Dresden Green diamond is one that comes to mind. It has a German sounding name and the “English” designation is rather tell-tale and deliberate.