The Krupp is a peculiar one-off cut (cut by the Asscher family), born out of opulence and tainted with a dark history of theft that reads like something out of a political intrigue novel. It starts as an Asscher cut but veers off by having a large culet (bottom) which results in the diamond looking like it has enormous depth to it. While this diamond is technically a one-of-a-kind stone, the term “Krupp Cut” would become loosely used to describe any Asscher cut diamond that was more rectangular than square.

A Tale of Opulence and Treachery

The Krupp diamond was the pride and joy of one Vera Krupp, a German actress and wife of Alfried Krupp. She was gifted the ring by her husband sometime between 1952 and 1956, and she continued to flash it shamelessly following a very public divorce. It seemed as though the diamond never left her finger, that is until April 10, 1959.

Our scene is set at Spring Mountain Ranch, 26 miles southwest of Las Vegas. Vera was finishing up dinner, diamond ring on her finger, when she heard a knock at her door. She opened it to find three men on the stoop, offering to blacktop her driveway.

Their guise of driveway repair quickly vanished, and the burglars forced their way inside leaving Vera bound, blindfolded and ringless. The assault drew blood, leaving Vera terrified as the men escaped into the night with her beloved ring.

Tracking Down the Diamond Thieves

This diamond would go on quite a journey, in the pocket of fugitive James George Reves, who soon learned the annoying problem with selling such a large, unique and easily identifiable diamond. No reputable jeweler would touch it, and each interaction ending with the jeweler informing the police of the diamond's most recent whereabouts.

This might have gone on for ages had it not been for Reves' blazing stupidity and desperate desire to unload the diamond for his big payday. Stuck in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Reves and his wife were hiding out in a Cadillac Motel trying to figure out who might be willing to buy their tasty prize without calling the cops. Unfortunately for Reves, one of the fences he approached was an FBI informant. FBI agents raided the hotel room in which Reves and his wife were staying, where they discovered the prized Krupp Diamond loose and stitched secretly into of one of his coats. The baguette accent stones had been sold to a jeweler in Chicago prior to the arrest, and were quickly confiscated and returned to their rightful owner.

On November 20, 1959, James George Reves, John William Hagenson (the alleged mastermind) and several others were found guilty by a jury of their peers for their role in the theft, although Hagenson would later be released after winning his appeal.

New Beginnings

The whole ordeal was obviously traumatizing to Vera Krupp. She had a secret, hidden bathroom added to her home to offer protection in the case of another home invasion. Once all the stones were returned to their rightful owner, she had them reset in the original platinum setting designed by Harry Winston. She continued to wear the ring almost daily, but she also began to keep it hidden, pinned to her bra strap and out of the public eye. As destiny and the FBI intended, Vera Krupp enjoyed her lavish diamond ring until the day of her death in 1967.

The “Krupp Diamond” Becomes the “Elizabeth Taylor Diamond”

Following Vera’s passing, the 33.19ct diamond was auctioned off at Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York City. During the auction on May 16, 1968, a bidding war began between the designer of the ring, Harry Winston, and famed American actor, Richard Burton. Burton ended up winning the auction, offering up a price of $305,000, which became the most expensive diamond ring ever sold at the time.

Burton gifted the famous jewel to his wife, the iconic jewelry wearer, Elizabeth Taylor. She clearly gave the ring a good home. She wore it frequently, both on and off screen, which would help her in developing the persona of a jewelry icon.

Following her passing in 2011, the famous ring with 80 additional items from her collection were listed in a sale designed to benefit the late actress’ charitable foundation. Every single piece in the sale went for much higher than the estimated prices, raising a total of $116 million. To add prominence to the sale, the famous Krupp Diamond was renamed “The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond”, which was sold to a Korean retail company for $8.8m.

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