Diamonds are always appreciated for their beauty and rarity and considered as a symbol of wealth and power. The largest and most rare stones have been noted throughout history. Below is detailed information of some of the World’s Most Famous Diamonds of all time…
Carat Weight: 3106 carats before Cut
Source: Found in 1905, Transvaal, South Africa
This was the largest diamond crystal ever found with a weight of 3,106 carats in the rough or over 1 ¼ pounds. The Cullinan gets its name from Sir Thomas Cullinan who was chairman of the mining company that discovered it. It was found in 1905. Frederick Wells, manager of the Premier Mine in South Africa, received $10,000 from the company as a gift for this discovery. It was purchased by the Transvaal Government and presented to King Edward VII of England.
The Cullinan was cut into 9 major stones and 96 smaller stones. After the cutting of the Cullinan, following nine major stones were obtained:
The Cullian was cut by Joseph Asscher and Company of Amsterdam, who examined the enormous crystal for around six months before determining how to divide it. Though, the goal was to split the diamond into only five crystals, it ended up being broke into nine crystals. When the Cullian was first discovered, certain signs suggested that it may have been part of a much larger crystal. But no discovery of the “missing half” has ever been authenticated.
Carat Weight: 530.20 carats
Cut: Pear Shaped with 74 Facets
Source: Cut from The Cullinan
The Cullinan I or Great Star of Africa diamond is the largest cut diamond in the world. It is set in the Imperial Scepter and is on permanent display in the Tower of London.
The Cullinan II diamond is the second largest cut diamond in the world. Cullinan II is also become part of the Crown Jewels of England. The royal jewelers of King Edward VII, even went so far as to redesign the setting of the scepter in order to accommodate it. Cullinan II, humbly measuring 1.7 x 1.6 inches. It is in the British Imperial State Crown, it was handsomely set in the brow of the British Imperial State Crown.
The Centenary Diamond was discovered at the Premier Mine, in July 1986. This diamond weighed 599.10 carats in the rough. Master-cutter Gabi Tolkowsky and his small team took almost three years to complete its transformation into the world’s third largest with carat weight of 273.85 carat, top-color, flawless diamond. The Centenary Diamond possesses 247 facets – 164 on the stone and 83 on its girdle. The ‘Centenary’ diamond was unveiled, appropriately at the Tower of London in May, 1991.
The Orloff is thought to have weighed about 300 carats when it was found. There are so many historical episodes involved with this diamond. As per first tale, the Orloff was set as the eye of Vishnu’s idol (one of the Hindu Gods) in the innermost sanctuary temple in Sriangam and was stolen in the year 1700 by a French deserter disguised as a Hindu. However, the deserter just dug one eye from its socket, because he was terror-stricken at the thought of retribution, so he couldn’t take the other. He went to Madras, and sold the stone quickly to an English sea-captain for 2,000 pounds.
After many years, the stone arrived at Amsterdam where the Russian count Grigori Orloff, an ex-lover of Empress Catherine the Great was residing. He heard about rumors of the stone, and he bought the diamond for 90,000 pounds and took it back to Russia for Catherine’s favor. The stone has been called the Orloff since then. Catherine received his gift and had it mounted in the Imperial Scepter. She gave a marble palace to Grigori Orloff in exchange for the Orloff diamond. However, Grigori couldn’t get Catherine’s love. Grigori Orloff passed away at the nadir of disappointment in 1783.
In 1812 the Russians, fearing that Napoleon with his Grand Army was about to enter Moscow, hid the Orloff in a priest’s tomb. Napoleon supposedly discovered the Orloff’s location and went to claim it. However, as a solider of the Army was about to touch the Orloff, a priest’s ghost appeared and pronounced a terrible curse upon the Army. Napoleon scampered away without the Orloff.
A truly historic diamond discovered in 1701 by an Indian slave near Golconda. It once weighed 410 carats in the rough. It was one of the largest diamonds found in India.
Once owned by William Pitt, the English Prime Minister and after that it was called “The Pitt”. It was sent to England where it was cut into a cushion shaped brilliant of 140.50 carats. Of all the larger diamonds known throughout the world the Regent Diamond is considered the finest and most beautiful diamond in the world.
In 1717, the diamond was sold $500,000 to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France when Louis XV was a boy. It was then renamed “The Regent” and set in the crown Louis XV wore at his coronation. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette wore the diamond separately. He wore it on his crown and she wore it on her hat. After the French revolution, it was owned by Napoleon Bonaparte who set it in the hilt of his sword. When he went to exile, Marie Louis, his second wife, gave it to her father. Her father was the Emperor of Austria, he returned it to French Crown Jewels.
When the Germans invaded Paris in 1940 the diamond was sent out of the country, when the war ended it was returned. During World War II, the Regent was hidden from Hitler’s armies behind a stone fireplace in the Chateau Chambord. It is now on display in the Louvre, Paris.
Carat Weight: 108.93 carats
Cut: Oval Shaped Brilliant
The name of this diamond means “Mountain of Light” and its history is the longest of all famous diamonds. Firstly, in 1304, this diamond was found in possession of the Raja of Malwa, later, it was captured by Mogul Sultan Babar. This was a time when possession of such a stone symbolized the power of an empire. It is said that this diamond has been set in the famous Peacock Throne made for Shah Jehan.
Kooh-i-Noor was one of the precious jewels of the Emperor Mohammed Shah. In 1739, Nadir Shah of Persia successfully invaded Delhi. His systematic pillage of the city failed to uncover the huge stone, but then he was told by one of the harem women that the conquered Emperor Mohammed Shah had hidden it inside his turban. At the victory celebration party, Nadir Shah invited his captive to a feast and suggested they exchange turbans, the emperor partake in a well known oriental custom whereby the two leaders would exchange turbans. Retiring from the feast, he unrolled the turban and released the great gem. Seeing it he exclaimed “Koh-i-Noor”, meaning “Mount of Light”.
Then, Nadir Shah brought the gem back and took it back to Persia, but he was assassinated in 1747 and the diamond was fought over by his successors. It was in the jewel chamber of Lahore, capital of Punjab, but when that state was annexed to British India in 1849, the East India Company took it as a partial indemnity for the Sikh Wars.
The Koh-i-Noor was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 to mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of the East India Company. When the large stone was displayed at the Crystal Palace Exposition, people were disappointed that the diamond did not show more fire. So, Queen Victoria decided to have recut to enhance its brilliance and fire, which reduced the 190 carats diamond to its present size. In 1911 a new crown was made for the coronation of Queen Mary with the Koh-i-Noor as the center stone. In 1937, it was transferred to the crown of Queen Elizabeth (now Queen Mother) for her coronation. It is now on display with the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
The Koh-i-Noor is said to have come to earth as a gift of God to India as reward for faith in God.
The Great Chrysanthemum supposedly found in South Africa in 1963, and it weighed 192.28 carats.
This pear-shaped diamond was cut by Julius Cohen, a New York City dealer, bought the rough stone and cut to reveal the diamond’s rich golden-brown, chrysanthemum-like color.
In 1971, the diamond was exhibited at the Kimberly Centenary Exhibition in South Africa. The diamond was also shown in the Diamonds-International Academy Collection at the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg in 1965. Recently, Julius Cohen sold “the Great Chrysanthemum” to an undisclosed foreign buyer.
This is another famous diamond that was once set in the eye of an idol before it was stolen. This flattened pear-shaped diamond weighs 70.20 carats. As per a legend, it was given as ransom for Princess Rasheetah by the Sheik of Kashmir to the Sultan of Turkey who had abducted her.
This stone was found in 1966 in South Africa. The rough stone, that weighed 240.80 carats, was cut into a 69.42 carats pear shape diamond.
This diamond was sold at auction in 1969 with the understanding that it could be named by the buyer. Cartier of New York successfully bid for it and immediately named it “Cartier.” However, the next day Richard Burton bought the stone as a gift for Elizabeth Taylor for an undisclosed sum, renaming it the “Taylor-Burton.” After Burton’s death in 1979, Elizabeth Taylor sold the stone for charity and reportedly received $2.8 million. She donated this sum in memory of Richard Burton to a hospital in Botswana. It was last reported to be in Saudi Arabia.
It was one of the first diamonds ever cut with symmetrical facets, having a history of over five hundred years. The stone is apparently of Indian origin. It was first owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost it in a battle in 1477.
The stone is named “The Sancy” after a late owner, Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey, in the late 16th century. Sancy was not only a prominent figure in the French court, but also an eager collector of gems then.
He loaned this stone to the French king, Henry III, who wore it in the cap with which he concealed his baldness. Henry IV of France also borrowed the stone from Sancy. Later, Sancy was assigned the French Ambassador to England and he sold the Diamond in 1664 to James I, of England. In 1688, James II, last of the Stewart Kings of England, fled with it to Paris. It was stolen during the French Revolution in 1792.
The Sancy disappeared until 1828, when it resurfaced in the hands of Russian Prince Demidoff. His family owned it until 1865, and then sold it to a wealthy Indian, Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy, of Bombay. The next public appearance was at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. Lady Astor loaned the Sancy to the Louvre, as a centerpiece for its Ten Centuries of French Jewelry exhibition in 1962. However, after her death in 1964, the British government declares the stone a national treasure, but after that reportedly it has been sold to the French government.
The Hope Diamond is the world’s largest deep blue diamond in public view today. It is famous for its striking color and its fascinating history of bringing bad luck to its owners. This attractive stone is also having a history of stolen and recovered, sold and resold, cut and recut.
The legend of the Hope Diamond began in 1642, when it weighed about 112 carats. A French diamond merchant named Jean Tavernier found the diamond in India and sold it to King Louis XIV in 1668 who had it cut to 67.50 carats from 112 carats to bring out its brilliance. However, Tavernier was killed by wild dogs during a business trip to India.
The dark blue diamond was called “the Royal French Blue” or “Blue Diamond of the Crown”. In 1774 Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette inherited the French Blue and wore it, as it was popularly known. The diamond was stolen during the French Revolution.
After that the Heart Cut Blue Diamond was believed to be sold in Spain where it was cut into three smaller stones. The Goya portrait of Queen Marie Louisa painted in 1799 shows her wearing a deep blue diamond cut into 44.5 carats of rounded oval. It is said that the stolen Royal French Blue was recut to its present size by Wilhelm Fals, a young Dutch diamond cutter. Fals died in grief after his son, Hendrick stole the gem from him. Hendrick, in turn, committed suicide.
In 1830, a wealthy banker Henry Phillip Hope bought this diamond for $90,000 and after that the diamond took on its now still existing name “the Hope Diamond”. It stayed in the Hope family until the turn of the century and the legend of its sinister influence began again. The original Henry Hope died without marrying, leaving the stone to his nephew. The stone was then passed on to a grandson who changed his surname to Hope to inherit it. Unfortunately bad luck plagued him, and his wife ran off with another man. The last of the Hopes went bankrupt and the stone was sold to a jeweler. It changed hands frequently in the next few years. A Folies star who wore it, was killed by a jealous lover. A Greek broker who bought it fell off a cliff with his wife and children. The Turkish Sultan, Selim Habib, was deposed in the 1908 revolution. The seller, Simon Montharides, died in a car crash.
After that it was put up for auction in Paris in 1909 but no one bought it. Shortly after that, C. H. Rouseau purchased it only to resell it the same year to Cartier, the French jeweler. Somehow, the Hope Diamond found its way back to France in 1910. After that Mrs. McLean wife of Mr. Edward B. McLean and daughter-in-law of millionaire publisher John R. McLean bought this diamond for $154,000 from Cartier. In next few years her son, Vinson was killed in a car accident and her daughter died of an overdose of sleeping pills, Mr. McLean became mentally unbalanced, and died in a mental hospital. But in spite of all these malefic effects, she wore it constantly till her death in 1947. After Mrs. McLean death, the Hope Diamond was bought by Harry Winston along with other jewels in her estate for more than $1,000,000.
Harry Winston first displayed the Hope Diamond in his Fifth Avenue salon in New York. After putting it on display at various charity shows, he sent it by registered mail in a plain brown wrap, to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958. The stamps cost him $145.00, $2.44 postage and the rest for insurance of $1,000,000. It is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
The Tiffany, the best of ever found yellow diamonds was found in 1878 from the famous Kimberley Mine in South Africa. The Tiffany diamond weighs 128.51 carats. It was cut from a piece of rough stone that weighed 287.42 carats. Charles Lewis Tiffany, the famous New York based Jeweler, bought it and cut it in Paris as a cushion-shaped brilliant with 90 facets.
This beautiful stone was named after Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, who was Josephine’s daughter and the stepdaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Hortensia had been part of the French Crown Jewels since Louis XIV bought it. Along with the Regent, it is now on display at the Louvre, Paris.