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The world's most interesting diamonds

Published: 06, October 2021

Some diamonds are world famous now for their incredible history, tradition and staggering size. Meet the ones that are capturing the attention not only of the past, but also of the present.

De Beers Millennium StarLet´s imagine a diamond so flawless and so huge that none of the world's experts can put a price on it. The De Beers Millennium Star is just that. It was found in the early 1980s at the De Beers mine in the Congo. It took over three years for cutters to shape the stone using lasers. Then the world's most unique, internally and externally sparkling 203ct pear-cut diamond was revealed. Harry Oppenheimer, a diamond industry icon, described the De Beers Millennium Star as "the most beautiful diamond he had ever seen". This diamond was unveiled as the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium Diamond Collection. The complete collection includes equally unique deep blue diamonds weighing a total of 118 carats, as well as the 27ct Heart of Eternity. This collection was exhibited in 2000 at London's Millennium Dome.

HopeThe most famous colored diamond is Hope. 45,52 ct blue diamond. It was brought from India, where it was found, by Jean Baptiste Tavernier in 1642. He sold it to King Louis XIV in 1668 for a fat profit, but soon spent it to pay off his son's huge debt. Tavernier then went to India in the hope of making up for his loss, but lost his life there when he was killed by a pack of wild dogs. The king named the gem the Blue Diamond of the Crown and for the next 118 years it was kept in the French Crown Jewels. In 1792, it was stolen during the French Revolution. Years later, it was found in Amsterdam, where it was commissioned to be re-cut by the Wilhelm Fals firm. Fals' son stole the stone, and his father died due to failing health, mental exhaustion and grief. The son apparently realised what he had done and committed suicide. In 1830, the diamond was acquired by a very wealthy banker, Henry Hope, and the cursed gem has had his name from this time. One of his descendants, Lord Francis Hope, found himself nearly bankrupt, his wife blaming the diamond for the break-up of their marriage. The new buyer, French broker Jacques Colot, went mad and committed suicide, and the next two owners were murdered. The Sultan of Turkey, who bought the gem for $400,000 in 1908, stabbed his wife and was overthrown not long after the bought. And the entire family of Edward McLean has been plagued by calamities since 1911, when he acquired the ill-fated diamond. It is said that the only way to be free from the power of the object of misfortune is to donate it. That is why it is interesting to note that the only person who was not struck by any calamity when Hope's diamond was acquired was the American jeweller Harry Winston. He bought the diamond from the McLean family and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution, where it remains to this day as a mineralogical wonder.

CentenaryIt was discovered in July 1988 at De Beers' Premier mine. In its rough form it weighed 599.10 ct. Master cutter Gabi Tolkowski and his group of assistants worked on it for almost 3 years to finally cut the world's largest diamond, which has a state-of-the-art cut, high colour and is free of inclusions. Its weight after cutting is 273.85 ct and it has 247 facets. It was deposited in the Tower of London in May 1991.

Star of South AfricaThe rough diamond (weighing 83.5 ct) was found by an Aboriginal herdsman near Griquatown in 1869. The discovery of this diamond started a diamond rush and hundreds of thousands of prospectors flooded the area. The herdsman traded the diamond to a farmer for 500 sheep, 10 oxen and 1 horse. The diamond weighed 47.69 ct after being cut into a brilliant teardrop and its last achieved price at the sale was a staggering £225,000. At present, the stone's whereabouts are unknown, but from time to time there are photographs safely proving that it is still in circulation.

CullinanIn 1905, the largest diamond in the world to date was found in De Beers' Premier Mine. In the rough it weighed 3106 ct and the proportions of the crystal were approximately 10 x 6 x 5 cm. The size could be compared to a larger grapefruit. The diamond was named Cullinan in honour of the mine's founder, Sir Thomas Cullinan. The rough diamond was purchased by the Transvaal government for a price of about one million dolars and presented to King Edward VII of England. The King had the stone cut in Amsterdam, and the cutter split the stone into two smaller stones, Cullinan I and Cullinan II. The larger Cullinan I was renamed the Great Star of South Africa and it weighs 530.20 ct, while Cullinan II weighs 317.5 ct. Both stones are part of the English crown jewels.

Koh-i-noorKoh-i-noor is the stone that is perhaps most shrouded in legend. It is not known when it first appeared. Some stories and legends say two that it was thousand years ago, others date the first mention to 1304. For two centuries, it was in the treasure trove of great moguls. Then the Shah of Persia, Nadir, took possession of it. After his assassination, the Afghans got their hands on the stone, then the Sikhs, and in the mid-19th century, the British. It became the property of the East India Company, who presented it to Queen Victoria. The queen had the stone re-cut a second time (the size was reduced from 186 carats to the current 108.93 carats), and left it to the wife (or husband) of the British monarch. In 1936, Queen Elizabeth (wife of George VI) had the Koh-i-noor set in her crown.

Taylor - BurtonIn 1969, this 69.42 ct drop-shaped stone was sold in auction. The new owner was Cartier of New York, who immediately named it Cartier. However, the very next day it was bought by the American actor Richard Burton for his equally famous wife Elizabeth Taylor. Thus the diamond was renamed Taylor-Burton. It made its debut at a charity ball held in Monaco in mid-November, where Taylor wore it as a pendant around her neck. However, in 1978, the American actress announced that she offered the stone for sale and she would donate part of the proceeds to the construction of a hospital in Botswana. A potential buyer had to pay $2,500 just to inspect it. In July 1979, the diamond was finally sold for $3 million. The last news of it came from Saudi Arabia.

De Beers DiamondNot long after the De Beers Corporation was founded in 1888, their first big discovery came. The stone, which weighing 428.5 carats, was a deep yellow colour, and immediately after cutting it, De Beers presented it at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. A fascinated crowd flocked to see the 228.5-carat gem, the largest cut diamond in the world at that time. Although many more beautiful diamonds have been found since then, the De Beers Diamond still holds the fourth largest cut diamond in the world.

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