Famous Diamonds

Diamonds in the Spotlight

Diamonds have played an important role throughout history. Coveted for their extraordinary natural beauty and unique properties, they have been at the center of some of the greatest stories and powerful people in history. Today, these diamonds are housed around the world in the personal collections of Royal Families, housed in treasuries and placed in museums for public viewing.

The 545 carat Golden Jubilee is currently the largest cut diamond in the world. The diamond was discovered in 1985 in the Premier Mine in South Africa, which also produced the Great Star of Africa. Before being cut and polished, this brown diamond measured 755.5 carats. Today, it is part of the crown jewels of the Royal Family of Thailand.

The 530 carat Great Star of Africa was the largest cut diamond in the world until the discovery of the Golden Jubilee from the same Premier Mine. It was cut from the largest diamond crystal ever found, measuring 3,106 carats. The original crystal produced nine major and 96 smaller brilliant gems. The pear shaped stone has 74 facets and is set in the Royal Scepter of the Crown Jewels of England. It is kept with the rest of the collection in the Tower of London.

The 300 carat Orloff is a bluish green rose cut diamond with exceptional clarity. Originally from India, it was thought to been used as the eye of a Hindu god in a secret sanctuary at the temple of Sriangam before being stolen in the 1700’s by a French deserter. After exchanging many hands, Count Grigori Orloff bought it to win back his ex-lover Empress Catherine the Great without success. This gem is held in the Diamond Treasury of Russia in Moscow.

The 273 carat Centenary Diamond is the world’s most modern cut, top colour, flawless diamond. After its discovery at the Premier Mine in July 1905, it was kept secret by DeBeers until 1988, when they revealed it to celebrate their 100 year anniversary. They enlisted master-cutter Gabi Tolkowsky and his team to tackle the original 599 carat stone, and it took almost three years to complete its transformation. This immaculate diamond was unveiled at the Tower of London in 1991.

The 140 carat Regent is known as the most beautiful diamond in the world. Discovered in 1698 in India, it is said to have a perfect cut. Although it is surpassed in weight by other diamonds, the Regent still continues to be recognized for its brilliance. After being purchased in 1717 by France’s Regent, it adorned several crowns and swords of French Royalty. Today it is housed at the Louvre in Paris.

The 105 carat Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) is an oval cut gem dating back to 1304, and is considered the oldest of known famous diamonds. It’s long history puts it in the hands of many different countries and empires throughout its time including Malwa, Mogul, Persian, Indian and possibly Afghanistan until it was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850. It was worn in a brooch and then adorned in a crown. This beauty is kept in the Tower of London with other Crown Jewels of England.

Diamonds have always been the favourite stone with royalty and celebrities. One of the most famous collectors in recent time was Elizabeth Taylor, who made her love of diamonds known. Her husband Richard Burton bought a 69 carat pear shaped diamond as a gift for her and named it ‘Taylor-Burton’. It was purchased for $1.1 million and after Burton’s death Taylor sold it for charity for $2.8 million.

The 45 carat Blue Hope was named after purchaser Henry Thomas Hope. The gem came from India to Europe in 1642, and was thought to have come from the famous Blue Tavernier diamond. King Louis XIV purchased and cut it down to 67.5 carats from the original 112 carats. This stone is said to be cursed, and has a long history of bringing bad luck to its owners. It is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.

The 20 carat Hortensia is a brilliant peach coloured gem. Named after the Queen of Holland, it was mounted on the binding of Napoleon’s epaulette during the first Empire. After being stolen in 1792, it is now part of the French crown jewels and can be viewed at the Louvre in Paris.