As the world commemorates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the descendants of a jeweler who made the fateful trip still hope that his lost inventory will be found.
In the early 1900s, Marks, Jay B., and Ervin Lewy established the Lewy Brothers Jewelry Company in Chicago, Ill. The store, which catered to the carriage trade, flourished until the time of the Great Depression.
In 1912, Ervin Lewy, the youngest brother, went to Europe on a diamond buying trip.
After poor luck purchasing diamonds in Amsterdam, Ervin decided to stay in Europe a few extra days and take the Titanic back to the United States. “I’ll be here about a week yet to see if I can’t do better. Can’t catch the Rotterdam as I expected but will probably sail on the Titanic from Cherborough the 10th,” Ervin wrote in a letter he sent home.
Ervin died when the ship sunk and never made it back to America, but a gift he sent his mother arrived in the mail shortly after the voyage. “He was in Paris and saw a sapphire with a cameo carved into it at Cartier and sent it to my grandmother through mail,” Stanley Lewy, Ervin’s great-nephew, says. “When the sapphire arrived my grandfather set the stone in a ring surrounded by baguette diamonds.”
The family heirloom has been passed down from generation to generation. Originally worn by Stanley’s grandmother, it has since been worn by his mother and now belongs to his daughter.
However, the diamonds that Ervin purchased in Europe remain a mystery. “It was possible that he purchased quite a bit of diamonds when he was on his trip,” Stanley says.
Although the diamonds have yet to be found, Stanley was contacted in 2000 with favorable news. “Historians contacted me and told me that they had located two probable areas where the diamonds may have been,” he says. “It is thought that the diamonds may reside in the captain’s safe or the bursar’s bag at the bottom of the ocean.”
However, shortly after, legal issues limited investigation of the ship’s artifacts, halting the recovery of the jewels.
Although Stanley doesn’t believe he’ll get to see the diamonds during his lifetime, he hopes his daughter will eventually have the chance to get back a piece of her family’s history. “There’s a whole lot of what-ifs,” Stanley says. “If the diamonds are eventually located I’m not sure what will happen, but it’s a lovely fantasy.”