Bonner, Antoinette (1892–1920)

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Bonner, Antoinette (1892–1920)

Rumanian-born jewel thief. Born in Rumania in 1892; immigrated to the U.S.; committed suicide in New York, New York, 1920.

In 1910, after learning all she could about evaluating gems from her father and winning the respect and trust of jewelers throughout the world, Antoinette Bonner was known as the "Queen of Diamonds." She set up an office, drummed up wealthy clients in search of the perfect diamond, and jewelers began to turn their diamonds over to her to sell. With commissions approximating $100,000 a year, the lure of the stones apparently overcame Bonner's good business judgment. In 1914, she disappeared with stones estimated to be worth one million dollars. Tracked down in Paris, Bonner claimed that she was not absconding with the jewels, but that her long sojourn in Paris had been caused by difficult negotiations for their sale. She was released and, after several years, reestablished her reputation.

In 1928, however, Bonner succumbed to temptation once again. She was caught in her office planning a getaway after selling $500,000 worth of rare uncut diamonds entrusted to her by a group of jewelers. When informed of her impending arrest for jewel theft, she reportedly pulled out a bottle of strychnine, downed it in front of the stunned police officers, and fell dead. She was 28 years old.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts