The Porges Diamond is a magnificent fancy yellow diamond weighing 78.53 carats and was purchased by Harry Winston in 1962 who named it, in tribute, to the French diamond pioneer, Jules Porges. Winston mounted the stone so that it may be worn either as a brooch, within a frame set with cabochon emeralds and rubies or as a spectacular stone, set within a simple ring mount. The current owner purchased it from Harry Winston directly in 1968 and as record books indicate, the whereabouts were unknown until now.
Jules Porges (b.1839-d.1921), descended from a prominent Austro-Hungarian family, was born in Vienna and was raised in Prague, where his father was a master jeweler. By the 1860's, he had settled in Paris, where he quickly established himself as a principal force in the diamond trade and founded Jules Porges and Company. Just outside Paris, he built a spectacular chateau in Rochefort-en-Yvelines for his wife and daughter and his residence in Paris was located on the Avenue Montaigne, where he housed an important art collection, focusing on Dutch masters such as Hals and van Dyck.
By the time the diamonds were discovered in South Africa, he had amassed a tremendous fortune and was considered the leading diamond merchant in the world. Quickly realizing the potential of these newly discovered mines, he dispatched Alfred Beit and Julius Wernher in 1873 to act as his representatives in this new venture and in 1876, Porges himself arrived in Kimberley, playing the unusual role as both consumer and producer of diamonds. Although he had invested in the mining rights of the four most principal mines (De Beers, Bultfontein, Dutoitspan, and Kimberley), by 1879 he was almost solely focused on Kimberley and had become a close associate of Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes eventually convinced the French investors to sell their shares to the newly formed De Beers firm. Jules Porges quietly retired in 1890.
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