Dresden Green Diamond

By Frank

Highly experienced diamond polisher who loves to share his knowledge with you. Continues to stun his colleagues with interesting - or simply bizarre - facts about diamonds and gems.

October 1, 2019

For centuries, many people believed The Dresden Green Diamond was as a symbol of good luck and fortune. It is the largest green diamond in the world. But it is also one of the rarest and most valuable diamonds ever. This makes the Dresden Green diamond, or simply Dresden Green, a very remarkable stone.

Green Diamonds

Natural green diamonds are one of the most sought-after diamonds worldwide. That is because green diamonds are very rare. Therefore, the Dresden Green is no exception. During its formation, the Dresden Green encountered some type of radiation. This is what gave the diamond its deep green color.

dresden green diamond

Some natural green diamonds are only green on the surface as they were only bombarded with alpha particles. In most cases, when polished, these diamonds fade to a light green or yellow color. Light green diamonds are stunning. But nothing can compare to a deep intense color. The Dresden Green Diamond was penetrated below the surface by both alpha and gamma rays. So it doesn’t matter whether it was cut or not. The deep color remains.

History of the Dresden Green

The story of the Dresden Green starts in the Kollur Mine, India. The first real note of the Dresden Green comes from a London news-sheet from October 25th-27th , 1722:

“On Tuesday last, in the afternoon, one Mr. Marcus Moses, lately arrived from India, had the honor to wait on his Majesty [King George I (ruled 1714-27)] with his large diamond, which is of a fine emerald green colour, and was with his Majesty near an hour. His Majesty was very much pleased with the sight thereof. It is said there never was seen the like in Europe before, being free from any defect in the world; and he has shown his Majesty several other fine large diamonds, the like of which ’tis said were never brought from India before. He was also, the 25th, to wait on their Royal Highnesses with his large diamond; and they were surprised to see one of such largeness, and of such a fine emerald color without the help of a foil under it. We hear the gentlemen values it at £10,000.”
– source: gia.edu

Different sides from Dresden Green

King Augustus I & II

In 1726, the same merchant, Marcus Moses, offered the diamond to Friedrich Augustus I, king of Poland. However, he sold it to his successor King Augustus II, of Poland. At that time, it had an estimated value of £30,000. But it sold for something between £60,000 and £400,000. The books are not clear about it.

Order of the Golden Fleece

The following year it was fashioned as part of a badge for the Order of the Golden Fleece. However, in 1746, the King ordered a new setting for the diamond, which also contained the Dresden White Diamond. In 1754, the badge with the diamond(s) moved to the Königstein fortress, near Dresden, at the onset of the Seven Years’ War. Here is where the diamond got its name: Dresden Green. The diamond returned to the Green Vault when the war ended.

Badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece
© Robert E. Kane

Hat clasp

In 1768, the Dresden Green Diamond was once again dismantled. A jeweler named Diessbach fashioned it into a hat clasp. The clasp contained the green diamond along with two white brilliant diamonds and a cluster of smaller diamonds. It remains in this setting to this day.

Back to the Green Vault

The Dresden Diamond remained on display in the Green Vault until the start of World War II. Just missing the air raid on February 13th of 1945, it was moved once again to Königstein for safe-keeping. Later that year, the Soviet Trophies Commission moved it to Moscow by, only to be returned in 1958. However, the Green Vault did not exist anymore. Therefore, the royal collection was on display at Albertium, a modern art museum in Dresden. In 2004, when the New Green Vault was opened on the newly restored Dresden Castle, the diamond was moved there. To this day, it is here on display for the public to see.

replica of green diamond

On display

On very rare occasions, the Dresden Green Diamond is on display at other locations. The latest was from October 2000 until January 2001 at the Smithsonian Institute. It laid proudly alongside the Hope Diamond.

Dresden Green: a lucky diamond

The diamond is considered to bring good luck. After all, it survived exposition to radiation. It traveled around the world, barely escaping the horrors of war and devastation. It is perhaps as cherished and beloved as the Hope Diamond. However, the Dresden was believed to bring the owner good fortune whereas the Hope Diamond has a history of curses.

Characteristics of the Dresden Green Diamond

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) examined the green diamond in 1988.

characteristics of the dresden green diamond– source: gia.edu

Carat

According to the GIA, the Dresden Green has a weight of 40.70 carat.

Color

The green color of the Dresden diamond has an almost perfect distribution throughout the diamond. This is one of the characteristics that make this diamond stand out. The GIA rated it as a Fancy Green grading due to its green color with greyish tones. They also stated that it is virtually free of nitrogen impurities, which is very rare.

Clarity

The clarity of the Dresden is VS1. The GIA categorized it as a Type IIa diamond with exceptional quality. Only 2% of the world’s diamonds have this rating. But it even has the potential of reaching IF (internally flawless). Essentially, this means if the diamond is recut, it could be upgraded to the maximum grade clarity as this could eliminate some of the superficial inclusion.

Cut

The Dresden Green has a modified pear shape. Most diamonds are brilliant-cut stones, but it is not unusual for exceptional stones to have a more unique shape.

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