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The name "The Portuguese Diamond" was given by Harry Winston, who owned it before selling the jewel to the Smithsonian Institution. Before him, it was owned by Peggy Hopkins Joyce, noted for her many marriages and affairs with wealthy men.
According to one of the legends, the diamond was mined in Brazil in the eighteenth century and became part of the Portuguese Crown Jewels. But there is no documentation to support this account. Documented reports of the diamond state that it was most likely found at the Premier Mine in Kimberly, South Africa, in the early 20th century, after which it was bought and owned by a succession of individuals.
It was first documented as being owned by Peggy Hopkins Joyce, a Ziegfeld Follies glamor woman who was noted for her marriages and affairs with wealthy men. She bought the diamond from Black, Starr and Frost in February 1928, trading a $350,000 pearl necklace and paying an additional $23,000 in cash for the jewel. She had the diamond mounted on a platinum choker to be worn closely to the neck. In 1951, Harry Winston bought the diamond from Joyce. The Portuguese Diamond was a part of his "Court of Jewels"; he sold it to an international industrialist in 1957. The Smithsonian Institution acquired the diamond from Winston, in exchange for 2,400 carats (480 g) of smaller diamonds.