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From one Williamson Pink to the other

The Williamson Pink Star, which recently sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong for a staggering $58 million, shares its geographical provenance with another remarkable pink, today in the Royal Collection.

The Williamson Pink Star, which recently sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for a staggering $58 million, shares its geographical provenance with another remarkable pink, today in the Royal Collection.

You might have wondered why the name ‘Williamson Pink Star’ sounded familiar while reading about this sale.

The reason is that this stunning gem shares its geographical provenance with another illustrious pink that now sits in a royal brooch, part of the Royal Collection – Queen Elizabeth II’s Williamson Diamond Brooch.

Both pink diamonds come, in fact, from Tanzania, from a mine owned by Canadian geologist and royalist Dr John Thorburn Williamson (hence the name of the two gems).

The Williamson Diamond

Miners discovered the Williamson Diamond in October 1947 at the Mwadui mine in Tanganyka. As we said, the Canadian geologist and royalist Dr John Thorburn Williamson owned the mine. The diamond, in fact, bears his name.

The uncut stone, weighing 54.5 carats, was presented by Dr Williamson as a wedding present to Princess Elizabeth in 1947.

Briefel and Lemer of Clerkenwell cut the stone into a 23.6-carat round brilliant. This cut maximized its rose colour.

The Williamson Diamond Brooch. Credits: The Cartiers website.

Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth inspected the work of cutting and polishing during a visit to the Clerkenwell premises on 10 March 1948.

When the Queen acceded to the throne in 1952, there was speculation that the stone might be mounted for use at the coronation.

However, it was instead set at the centre of a brooch in the form of a jonquil flower, designed by Frederick Mew of Cartier, in 1953.

The Williamson Diamond Brooch. Royal Collection Trust / All rights reserved.

Dr Williamson wished to add further pink diamonds to its original gift, but as these were not available, he gave The Queen 170 small brilliant-cut diamonds, 12 baguette-cut diamonds and 21 marquise diamonds. These were all incorporated into this brooch to form the petals, the stalk and the leaves.

This brooch was one of Her Late Majesty’s favourite pieces. She wore it frequently on special occasions – from portraits to her annual Christmas broadcast (twice, in 1968 and in 1988). Queen Elizabeth II also wore the Williamson Diamond Brooch on the occasion of the weddings of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, and of Prince Edward and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones.

The Williamson Brooch. Credits: The Cartiers website,

Sources:

Caroline de Guitaut, Diamonds. The Queen’s Collection, Royal Collection Trust, revised edition, 2022.

Woman & Home website

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