In the Chicago World's Fair exhibition of 1933/34, "La Favorite" was showcased as America's finest diamond. It was exhibited at the South African "Diamond Mine" exhibit alongside the 41.94 carat Emperor Maximillian and the 128.51 carat canary colored Tiffany Diamond.
This 50.28 carat diamond was described as a Blue-White Wesselton from the Kimberley district in South Africa, a term used before the Gemological Institute introduced an alphabetical scale of color grading in the 1940's. Before the grading category we know today, there were many different ways of describing a diamond's color. Many were misleading and not always appropriately descriptive. So much so that many terms ere prohibited by the US Federal Trade Commission, however the term "River White" or "Blue-White Wesselton were always acknowledged to be the highest possible grades for colorless diamonds. GIA director Richard Liddicote introduced the new scale and the reason that "D" was chosen as the highest grade was that beforehand the grades A+ or AAA had been part of the inconsistent terms used to describe stones. Mr. Liddicote wanted a clear distinction between the FIA scale and descriptions from some of the more opportunist diamond dealers.
In its rough state, "La Favorite" weighed 111 carats and was rumored to have sold for the highest price per carat for any stone at that time. Cut in Antwerp, it then sold to an anonymous buyer only known to have been a member of the French Royalist party. Miss Marion Mercer of the Rosenwald Industrial Museum (now The Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago) who made a tour of Europe in the search of historical and rare stones negotiated its loan to the World's Fair when visiting Paris.
Insured in 1933 for $330,000, it is interesting to note that the Tiffany diamond (one of America's great treasures) was "only" covered at $100,000 for this exhibition. The stone was mounted as a ring by the legendary firm of Bulgari when Paolo Bulgari purchased the stone from its French owner in the 1960's and sold it to the family who made it part of their remarkable collection offered here.
In a world where terminology and values have changed so much since its first appearance almost seventy years ago, one thing that has always remained a constant is its beauty. The color, purity, and scale of proportion of this stone make it arguably one of the most beautiful diamonds to have appeared at auction in recent years and it is not hard to understand why it won that coveted title a lifetime ago.
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY