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Porter Rhodes Diamond

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 12 FEBRUARY

UPDATED: 12/02/2024

12 February 1872, Seat of Magistracy for Pniel District moved from Dutoitspan to New Rush.
12 February 1872, William Coates Palgrave appointed ARM for Beaconsfield.
12 February 1876, Telegraph office opens in Kimberley.
12 February 1880, SA cricketer William Shalders born.
12 February 1880, The Porter Rhodes diamond (pictured) weighing 153.5 carats discovered in the Kimberley Mine.

Pictured is a photograph taken by J Trim shortly after the Porter Rhodes diamond was discovered at the Kimberley Mine.

The Porter Rhodes diamond
Considered to be the finest diamond found by a citizen of the USA up to that time (1880), the 153.50-carat rough diamond came from the claim of Mr. Porter-Rhodes in the Kimberley Mine. It was valued at £200,000.

In 1881, Mr. Porter Rhodes visited the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and showed it to Queen Victoria, who exclaimed over its great purity and beauty. Empress Eugénie, living on the island, also saw the great diamond at the same time, remarked that it was “simply perfection,” not knowing what to compare it with. At that time, it was the general belief that South Africa diamonds were inferior. Queen Victoria asked, “Is it really from Cape?” Empress Eugénie remarked, “Are you sure the diamond is from South Africa, and have you not had it polished a little? I have always been under the impression that diamonds from the Cape were very yellow and worth but little.”

The diamond was faceted into a 73-carat Old Mine cut, but eventually was sold to the London jewelry firm of Jerwood & Ward, who had it recut in Amsterdam down to a 56.60-carat Asscher cut. It was sold to the Maharaja of Indore, a man of great wealth who abdicated in 1926 in favour of his son after a scandal had erupted over his fancy for a certain dancing girl. In 1930 the second Duke of Westminster bought the gem, the first of a long line of collectors. It later came into the possession of an influential American family who treasured the diamond for three decades before selling the diamond to Lawrence Graff in 1987.

Graff repolished the Porter Rhodes into a 54.04-carat gem. The gem has been graded as being D-color.

(Adapted from the website:

UPDATED: 12/02/2021

12 February 1872, Seat of Magistracy for Pniel District moved from Dutoitspan to New Rush.
12 February 1872, William Coates Palgrave appointed ARM for Beaconsfield.
12 February 1876, Telegraph office opens in Kimberley.
12 February 1880, SA cricketer William Shalders born.
12 February 1880, The Porter Rhodes diamond (pictured) weighing 153.5 carats discovered in the Kimberley Mine.

A DIAMOND OF THE FIRST WATER FOUND
The Porter Rhodes diamond when discovered in the Kimberley Mine on 12 February 1890 weighed 153.50 carats in the rough and was considered to be the finest found up to that date.

Porter Rhodes Diamond

A pure white diamond “of the first water” it was valued at some $200 000 US when it was found in the claim of Porter Rhodes in what is now the famous Big Hole of Kimberley.

Porter Rhodes was invited to show the diamond to Queen Victoria, at the time residing in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, who, while noticeably impressed with its beauty and great beauty queried whether it came from South Africa. “Is it really from the Cape?” she asked.

Empress Eugénie of France, who saw the diamond at the same time, also queried the origin, the belief being that the Cape only produced yellow stones.

“Are you sure the diamond is from South Africa, and have you not had it polished a little? I have always been under the impression that diamonds from the Cape were very yellow and worth but little.”

The diamond was faceted into a 73-carat Old Mine cut, and then sold to the London jewellery firm of Jerwood & Ward, who had it recut down to a 56.60-carat Asscher cut.

It was sold to the Maharaja of Indore, who in turn, sold it in 1930 to the second Duke of Westminster, the first of a long line of collectors. It later came into the possession of an influential American family who treasured the diamond for three decades before selling the diamond to Lawrence Graff in 1987. Graff then re-polished the Porter Rhodes into the 54.04-carat gem being graded as being D-colour. Graff purchased the diamond for $3.5 million US.

12 February 1872, Seat of Magistracy for Pniel District moved from Dutoitspan to New Rush.
12 February 1872, William Coates Palgrave appointed ARM for Beaconsfield.
12 February 1876, Telegraph office opens in Kimberley.
12 February 1880, SA cricketer William Shalders (pictured) born.
12 February 1880, The Porter Rhodes diamond weighing 153.5 carats discovered in the Kimberley Mine.

DID YOU KNOW

Cricketer William Shalders

The longest serving owners and landlords of The Half were John and Emily Shalders, parents of the Springbok cricketer William Alfred Shalders. They owned the business from 1884 until it was sold in 1925 to Thomas Laity, so were the owners when it moved to its present position in 1897.

Cricketer William Shalders

When sold by the Shalders in 1925 to Thomas Laity, The Half was a going concern, a well-known hostelry built of solid burnt brick, with spacious well-equipped bar and boasting a large sitting and dining rooms. Airy and lofty bedrooms, a self-contained cottage next door, all with sewerage facilities installed and electrical fittings, a commodious compound plus a bar license with full privileges were advertised for the sale.

An Old Boy of Kimberley Boys High School, William Alfred Shalders died at Cradock, Cape Province, March 18, 1917. He was born in Kimberley on 12 February 1880 and played for both Griqualand West and Transvaal as well as playing for South Africa in 12 Test matches against England and Australia. His first test was in South Africa in 1899, and he was a member of the South African teams that came to England in 1904 and 1907.  Without being one of the stars of the famous South African side in 1907, Shalders was a very useful bat. He played an innings of 108 against Hampshire, and came out sixth on the list for the whole tour, getting 747 runs in 22 matches, with an average of just under 22. His best scores in the three Test Games were 31 and not out 24 at the Oval. For the 1904 team he had an excellent record, scoring 842 runs and averaging 27. As his biggest innings was 81 his figures meant very consistent work.

PT-Cricketer-William_Alfred_Shalders-Gravestone

William Shalders Gravestone

He was a member of the Kimberley Town Guard during the Siege (1899-1900) and was awarded the QSA medal as well as the Kimberley Star.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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