Green diamonds are among the most valuable and rare gems in the world.
The Dresden Green Diamond, also known as the Dresden Green, is a 41-carat natural green gemstone. It probably originated in the Kollur mine in India sometime before 1722. Said to be flawless, it’s a rare Type 11a with a clarity of VS1. It’s the largest and one of the rarest and most valuable diamonds in the world.
Green diamonds range in color from light mint and apple to vivid grass green. The Dresden Green features evenly distributed color and is the crown jewel of its collection the Green Vault at Dresden Castle.
Interestingly enough, it gets that beautiful apple green color from natural exposure to radioactive materials during its formation. Irradiation of diamonds can cause changes in color, and this particular event created a stunning sparkler that’s been believed to be a symbol of good luck and fortune for centuries.
Named after Dresden, the state capital of Saxony, Germany, the diamond is set in what’s called a hat ornament, which was designed by Franz Michael Diespach, along with elements by André Jacques Pallard. Blending Rococo and Neoclassical styles, it features two intertwining diamond-covered ribbons. The “bow” element at the top has a clasp on the back. A large antique-cut diamond sits at the center front of the bow. The Dresden Green Diamond descends down.
Dresden Green Timeline:
1742 – It was acquired by King Augustus III of Poland from a Dutch merchant at the Leipzig Fair. He commissioned the court jeweler, Johann Friedrich Dinglinger, to make it into a badge of the Order of the Golden Fleece (an extremely important chivalric order in Europe at the time).
1746 – Augustus had the badge dismantled and the green diamond put into a different setting. This second badge was commissioned from a Geneva goldsmith, André Jacques Pallard. Along with the green diamond, it included the Saxon White diamond (about 49 carats). Both remained in this second badge for about 20 years.
1763 – The Dresden Green was passed on to his 13-year-old grandson, Friedrich Augustus.
1768 – Friedrich Augustus commissioned Franz Michael Deispach to transform it into a more fashionable piece. It became part of an ornate, and very valuable, hat ornament surrounded by two large and 411 medium and small diamonds. It’s still in this setting today.
1945 – It was in Moscow for about a decade following World War II.
1958 – The piece was returned to Germany to a rebuilt Green Vault at Dresden Castle.
2000 – Jewelry firm Harry Winston had it on display at their flagship NYC store. It then went to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where it was displayed alongside the Hope Diamond (considered to be a “sister piece” due to similarity in size) at the Harry Winston pavilion.
2019 – The Dresden Green Diamond was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC in November 2019, so it was saved from the jewelry heist at the Green Vault Museum that took place November 25, 2019.
Today, the Dresden Green is on display in the historic Green Vault at Dresden Castle as part of the Saxon electors’ jewelry collection. The Green Vault Museum, founded in 1723, contains the largest treasure collection in Europe.
In case you were wondering, the Green Vault Museum gets its name from its previously malachite green-painted column bases in its original rooms, not from the Dresden Green Diamond (though it would certainly be cool to think it did). The museum was originally the private collection of Augustus the Strong, ruler of Saxony.
Have you had the chance to view the Dresden Green Diamond, either at the MET, in Dresden, or at the Smithsonian? Let us know in the comments.