The World’s Most Famous Diamonds
Love diamonds? Us too! At JAGi Lab, we appraise both diamond jewelry and loose stones daily for clients all over the country. Below is a round up of four of some of our favorite famous diamonds and their stories:
The Koh-i-Noor may appear in recorded history as early as the 15th century in the journals of the warrior Babur, who referred to a “famous 136 carat diamond”. Babur received the diamond in 1526 after conquering present-day India and founding the Mughal Empire, an early empire of South Asia. The stone has passed through many hands in the years following, notably ceded to Queen Victoria and the British Crown in 1849.
Displayed to public in 1852, the large diamond failed to dazzle viewers. The Koh-i-Noor diamond was cut with a high dome, a flat base, and facets in several different shapes- typical for the region and time from which the stone originated, but a far cry from the sparkling specimen the British public had expected. Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, decided to have it re-cut from 186 cts. to its current 105.6 cts- a loss of weight so massive, it is truly painful for any diamond enthusiast. The stone was set in a brooch for Queen Victoria, but she was troubled about the way it had been acquired and did not like to wear it. Today, the stone is housed with the rest of the British Crown Jewels and replicas cut from cubic zirconia are on display.
The Tavenier Blue diamond was a type IIB, 115-carat natural blue diamond sold by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier to Louis XIV of France, who had it recut some years later into the 68 ct. “French Blue” diamond. During the tumultuous French Revolution, the French Blue was stolen from the French Crown Jewels. It was recut into several smaller diamonds, which is a way thieves were able to mask the identity of stolen diamonds in order to sell them. Centuries later, in 2005, a research team at the Smithsonian was able to confirm that one of the most famous diamonds in modern history, the Hope Diamond, had been cut from the French Blue.
The Cullinan Diamond, also known as the Star of South Africa, is the largest gem-quality rough diamond found to date. Discovered in 1905, the diamond weighs in at 3,106.75 carats (for perspective: 1.37 pounds) and was named after Thomas Cullinan, who owned the mine the stone was excavated from. Cullinan gifted it to King Edward VII for his 66th birthday. This stone was cut into 9 major and 100 smaller stones, several of which remain part of the British Crown Jewels. Notable stones cut from the Cullinan diamonds include the 530 ct. Star of Africa I, the largest cut colorless diamond in the world.
Perhaps the most famous diamond in human history is the Hope Diamond, a 45.52-ct. stone that is naturally colored blue due to the presence of boron in its crystal lattic. The Hope Diamond is notorious both for its stunning beauty and for the being cursed. Legend has it that the stone was stolen from a statue of a Hindu goddess. Ever since, those who came to posess the stone were hounded by death, illness, and general misery. While the truthfulness of the legend is debatable, its marketing prowess cannot be denied. Pierre Cartier was happy to further embellish stories of misery wrought by ownership of the Hope Diamond to enhance the stone’s appeal. He ultimately sold it to a socialite, Evalyn Walsh McLean, in 1911 for $180,00.00. While this number may not seem impressive, the figure grows to $4,983,423.16 when converted to 2021 dollars- not bad for a cursed stone. Today, the stone resides in London’s Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the curse appears to have gone dormant.
The Hope Diamond was confirmed in 2005 by researchers at the Smithsonian to have been cut from the aforementioned French Blue diamond.