The Drexel Mughal Heart, mounted by Harry Winston, New York

For as long as we can remember, certainly since our careers began in the 1970s, the finest, most limpid diamonds were always termed 'Golconda' by diamond experts when they were being discussed, referring to the fabled area in the Deccan and the town where the principal stones had been traded for centuries,

Another epithet in common use at the time – but that one no longer hears – to describe the finest and optically purest material was ‘first water’. Both terms are equivalent and were an attempt to find a common language that diamantaires  could employ between themselves.

By the early 1990s, laboratories in Switzerland began to use the term ‘Golconda’ to describe diamonds that were found to be Type IIa (a sub-group – less than 2% – that is nitrogen and boron free, and thus chemically and optically the purest), D colour and of old style cutting.

Obviously there was no attempt by the laboratories to suggest that all such diamonds had originated in the Golconda region (in fact, Type IIa diamonds have been discovered in most diamond mining regions), but it was an acknowledgement and testament to the beauty of these rare stones.

We believe that most observers would spot the often very subtle difference between a Type IIa diamond and a diamond from another group if they were placed side by side for comparison, particularly when such a stone is presented in an old style, classic cut.

The Drexel Mughal Heart is a good example of this ‘extra, indefinable charm’, this elusive ‘je ne sais quoi’, as the French would say, that these stones display. But, they would also understand just how difficult it is to describe this difference – even by people who have spent their lives in the diamond trade.

The Drexel Mughal Heart, with its fascinating history – as fully documented in the Gemological Institute of America monograph which accompanies the stone (read the monograph here) – is a stunning, highly individual diamond. Put simply, it is like no other.


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An extract from the GIA monograph outlining the provenance of the The Drexel Mughal Heart is reproduced here:


The Mughal Heart’s polished beauty has been appreciated for a number of decades. The gem was previously a treasured component of the collection of the Drexels, a prominent British-American family; it was last held in the estate of John and Noreen Drexel.

John was the great-great-great grandson of Francis Martin Drexel, who founded the banking house of Drexel & Company in 1837. Francis’ son, Anthony J. Drexel, was a partner of the financier J.P. Morgan and founded Drexel University in Philadelphia in 1891.

Anthony’s son, John R. Drexel, married a woman by the name of Alice Gordon Troth Drexel. On their wedding day, he presented her with many expensive jewels and $1 million. The Mughal Heart is believed to have been purchased around that time. Reportedly, Alice can be seen wearing the diamond atop her finger on various occasions in old photographs.

Throughout their lives, Alice and her husband continued to collect jewelry and art, filling their homes in Newport, New York and Paris with extravagant pieces. When Alice passed away in 1947, she left her belongings to her grandson, John. Among those items was the Mughal Heart, which John would give to his wife, Noreen, a prominent philanthropist and socialite.

John and Noreen spent their winters in Palm Beach, where Noreen ran the American Red Cross office. She was also an early advocate of substance abuse prevention and founded the Childbirth Education Association of the Palm Beaches.

In New York, the couple owned a large, full-floor apartment overlooking Central Park. While in the city, Noreen volunteered at the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Beekman Downtown Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. She was also Chair of the Women’s Division of the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New York.

The Drexels were active in Newport society as well, and they regularly attended Newport balls and other gatherings. At the Tiffany Ball at Marble House, Noreen chatted with John and Jackie Kennedy, and swirled under the grand chandelier.

Noreen’s portrait was painted by Rene Bouche, a society painter known for his fashion illustrations and covers for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Time. Bouche was sought out by other notable, high-profile figures such as Alexander Calder, Truman Capote and Gloria Vanderbilt.

Further details: 
The Drexel Mughal Heart is mounted as a ring in platinum, stamped Winston; see image below:

– 1 heart-shaped diamond weighing 30.86 carats

– In a Harry Winston box

Gemological Institute of America Diamond Grading Report no. 1172328707, dated April 15, 2016, stating that the 30.86-carat modified heart brilliant is D colour and Intenally Flawless clarity

Gemological Institute of America Diamond Type Classification for Diamond Grading Report no. 1172328707 stating that the 30.86-carat modified heart brilliant diamond has been determined to be a type IIa diamond


For further information on The Drexel Mughal Heart: