Auctioneer Press Release Rago

Fit for an Emperor: Diamond Once Belonging to Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico to Sell at Rago Auctions

May 21,2019 | 15:25 EDT By Rago Auctions

Lambertville, NJ -  On June 9, Rago Auctions will offer for sale a rose-cut diamond button ring, the central diamond of which once belonged to the last Emperor of Mexico, Maximilian I.

Lot 1037, Georgian Rose-Cut Diamond Button Ring; Estimate $45,000-$65,000

This rose-cut diamond was among a set of diamond buttons (the exact number of which is unknown) owned by Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, who was installed as the ruler of Mexico by Napoleon III in 1864 only to be overthrown and executed three years later in 1867. Twelve of these buttons were later acquired by Col. Edward H. R. Green, son of the brilliant and miserly financier Hetty Green, the richest woman of the Gilded Age. When this voracious collector of coins, stamps and jewelry died in 1936, his collections were sold privately and at auction. Hammer Galleries (founded by famed collector Dr. Armand Hammer) acquired jewelry from Green’s collection, including Maximilian’s set of 12 rose-cut diamonds, mounted as finger rings. These rings were advertised for sale in the New York Times on October 24 and December 5, 1943.

Lot 1037, Georgian Rose-Cut Diamond Button Ring; Estimate $45,000-$65,000

It is our presumption that the diamond presented in lot 1037 of our June 9 Fine Jewelry Auction is from one of these rings. Another of the diamond buttons, also adapted as a ring, sold at Christie’s Geneva on May 14, 2013 as lot 574. Both the subject ring and the one sold by Christie’s are engraved with the weights of the center stones and inventory numbers.

Pictured: Édouard Manet's oil on canvas "The Execution of Emperor Maximilian"

This exceptional and storied piece will be offered during Rago's Fine Jewelry Auction on Sunday, June 9, which is preceded by Rago’s Unreserved Jewelry Auction on Friday, June 7.

Auction Exhibition/Preview/Bidding  
Saturday, June 1 through Wednesday, June 5, 12–5 p.m. Thursday, June 6, 12-7 p.m. Saturday, June 8, 12-5 p.m. Also by appointment. Doors open at 9 a.m. on sale days
Preview Reception w/ wine and hors d'oeuvres on the evening of June 6 from 5-7pm.
Rago is located midway between NYC (1 hr. 15 min) and Philadelphia (50 min). Directions online at
For those unable to attend, telephone/absentee bidding available at 609.397.9374. Online bidding available at

Printed catalogues are available for purchase at the auction house, by calling 609.397.9374 or by emailing a request to
View a complete online catalogue with color images at and, online May 20.

By Rago