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The World's 10 most Famous Diamonds

Diamonds are one of the most treasured stones. Their sheer beauty is astonishing and over the centuries their symbolism has become renowned. Thus it has become every woman’s desire to own at least one diamond. The number of different cuts, styles, colour and sizes, just to name a few, that differentiate each diamond and make every diamond unique are endless. Therefore it is no wonder that there exists a large number of ‘Famous Diamonds’.

Famous diamonds have become famous because they are so unique and beautiful and because their stories are fascinating. There is no other diamond that even comes close to having the characteristics these diamonds possess. These diamond’s stories are filled with intrigue and many are associated with famous people from history while others have become a legend due to their size, origins or unique qualities.

The World’s 10 most famous diamonds:

  1. The Great Star of Africa
    530.20 carats the Cullinan I or Star Africa diamond is the largest cut diamond in the world. The Cullinan was found in Transvaal, South Africa in 1905 on an inspection tour of the Premier Mine, it originally weighed 3,106.75 carats. It was cut into the Great Star of Africa, the Lesser Star of Africa and 103 other diamonds of nearly flawless clarity. The Star Africa diamond is pear shaped with 74 facets is set in the Royal Scepter (kept with other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London). The diamond was cut by Joseph Asscher and Company of Amsterdam who examined the diamond for six month before deciding how to cut it. When the Cullinan was discovered certain signs suggested it may have been part of a larger crystals, however no discovery of the other part of the crystal has ever been authenticated.
  2. Koh-I-Noor – “The Mountain of Light”
    This diamond has the oldest recorded history , since 1304. This diamond weighs 186 carats and was an oval stone. Said to have been in existence since 1304 where it was set in a famous peacock throne of Shah Jehan as one of the peacock’s eyes. It was recut during the reign of Queen Victoria and is among the British Crown Jewels and now weighs 108.93 carats.

    It was originally stated that whoever owned this diamond ruled the world. Legend says that this stone may have dated from before the time of Christ which then affirms the possibility of it being around in the 1300s.

    The Koh-I-Noor is said to have come to earth as a gift from the god in India to a faithful worshipper.
  3. The Excelsior – “Higher”
    This diamond is not only one of the world’s largest diamonds it is the second largest diamond ever found in the world. The stone measured two and one-half inches in length, two inches in breadth, and one inch in thickness. The name Excelsior came from the stone's original shape - flat on one side and rising to a peak on the other. An African mine worker found the diamond which he kept secret until he handed it into his mine manager who rewarded him with some money, a horse and a saddle. The Excelsior originally weighed 995.2 carats. The diamond was cut into 10 pieces, the 3 largest weighing 150 carats, 147 carats and 130 carats. These pieces were then cut into 21 gems ranging from 70 carats to less than 1 carat. The Excelsior had a fault that prevented its becoming a single gem; this was a black spot in the centre which made it necessary to cleave. Some claim that the Excelsior is the second largest stone ever found, but there are no records of its existence, and many believe it is mythical - or not even a diamond.
  4. The Great Mogul
    The Great Mogul was discovered in the 17th century in India. It was discovered as a 787 carat stone in the Golconda mines in 1650 and was cut by the Venetian lapidary Hortentio Borgis. The stone was named after Shah Jehan the builder of the Taj Mahal. However the stone has disappeared. Its disappearance has made some writers deny it ever existed, even though the French jewel trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the greatest diamond-merchant and expert of his century actually held the stone in his hand and described it in 1665 as a high-crowned rose-cut stone with a flaw at the bottom and a small speck within. Thus the fact that the stone can no longer be found is not sufficient reason to deny its former existence. Some believe that the Koh-I-Noor diamond may have been cut from this stone after its loss following the assassination of its owner, Nader Shah, in 1747.
  5. The Idol’s Eye
    A flattened pear-shaped stone the size of a bantam’s egg, its polished size is 70.20 carats. This diamond was once set in the eye of an idol before it was stolen. Legend also states that it was given as a ransom for Princess Rasheetah by the Sheik of Kashmir to the Sultan of Turkey who had abducted her. The first authenticated fact in the diamond’s history was it appearance at a Christie’s sale in London on July 14th 1865, when it was described as “a splendid large diamond known as the Idol’s Eye set round with 18 smaller brilliants and a framework of small brilliant”. The shape of the Idol’s Eye can be explained as something between an Old Mind cut and a triangular brilliant. The Idol’s Eye is clearly a Golconda diamond, possessing a slight bluish tinge so characteristic of many diamonds from that source.
  6. The Regent
    The Regent diamond was discovered in 1702 by an Indian slave near Golconda. The diamond weighed 410 carats in the rough. The Regent was once owned by the English Prime Minister, William Pitt. It was cut into a cushion shaped brilliant of 140.5 carats and until it was sold to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France when Louis XV was a boy in 1717, was called The Pitt. It was renamed The Regent and set in the crown Louis XV wore at his coronation then going to Louis XVIs crown in 17875. The Regent is renowned for its exceptional limpidity and perfect cut and has the uncontestable reputation as the most beautiful diamond in the world. It was owned by Napoleon Bonaparte after the French Revolution who set it in the hilt of his sword. It is now on display in the Louvre.
  7. The Orloff
    The Orloff is the worlds third largest cut diamond, weighing 194 carats and it measures 47.6mm in height, 31.75mm in width and 34,92 mm in length. Its clarity is typical of the finest Indian diamonds and its colour possess a slight bluish-green tint. The diamonds shape resembles half a pigeon’s egg and its upper surface is marked by concentrated rows of triangular facets with corresponding four-sided facets appearing on the lower surface. The total number of facets is roughly 180. On one side of the Orloff there is a slight indentation. It was once one of the eyes of the idol Seringham in the temple of Brahma and later it was acquired by the Shah Nadir who desired to own one of the world’s largest diamonds. In 1775 it was given to Catherine II of Russia by Grigori Orloff, one of her ex-lovers and has been called the Orloff ever since. Nowadays the Orloff is one of the most important items in one of the greatest collections of gems and jewellery, the Treasures of the Diamond Fund, Gokran.
    The unusual shape of the diamond, the pattern of its facets and its colour suggest that the Orloff can be identified with a long-lost legendary stone.
  8. The Blue Hope
    The hope is one of the most notorious of all diamonds. The Blue Hope weighs 45.52 carats. It was thought to have part of the famous Blue Tavernier Diamond, brought to Europe from India in 1642. It was once owned by King Louis XIV and was officially designated “the blue diamond of the crown”. Louis cut it to 67.50 carats from 112 carats to bring out its brilliance. During the French Revolution it was stolen and a smaller diamond of similar colour appeared in London in 1830 and was bought by Henry Philip Hope, an English banker, after who it is currently names. While it was in possession of the Hope family it acquired its terrible reputation for bad luck. All the Hope family died in poverty. The stone was eventually acquired by an American widow, Mrs. Edward McLean, whose family after acquiring the stone suffered a series of catastrophes; her only child was accidentally killed, the family broke up, Mrs. McLean lost her money and then committed suicide. When Harry Winston, a New York diamond merchant bought the stone in 1949, many clients refused to touch the stone. The diamond can be seen today in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
  9. The Sancy
    Weighing 55 carats the Sancy was cut in a pear shape and was first owned by Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who lost it in battle in 1477. The stone is a pale yellow and is apparently of Indian origin and is said to be one of the first large diamonds to be cut with symmetrical facets. The stone is very unusual because it has no pavilion – just a pair of crowns, one on the other. The stone is named after its later owner, Seigneur de Sancy, a French Ambassador to Turkey in the late 16th century who was an avid collector of gems and jewls. He brought to France where French King, Henry III borrowed it to wear it in the cap with which he concealed his baldness of which he was extremely sensitive. Henry IV of France also borrowed the stone as security for a substantial loan to hire soldiers. A messenger was sent with the jewel but eh never reached his destination, as thieves had followed him. Knowing that the servant was loyal, Sancy searched for the servant and his body was found and discovered in the stomach of servant was the diamond. The Sancy was sold in 1664 to James I of England. In 1688 James II, last of the Stuart Kings of England, fled with the stone to Paris. In 1792, the beginning of the French Revolution, the Sancy and other famous gems were stolen from the Garde Meuble in Paris. The stone reappeared in 1828 and was sold by a French merchant to Prince Anatole Demidoff of Russia. The Sancy now resides in the Louvre in Paris.
  10. Taylor-Burton
    This pear shaped 69.42 carat diamond, F-G colour and IF clarity was found in the Premier Mine in Transvaal South Africa, in 1966. The rough weighed 240.80 carats. The diamond was sold at auction in 1969 with the understanding it could be named by the buyer. Cartier of New York was the successfully bidder and called it “Cartier”. However the next day Richard Burton bought the stone for Elizabeth Taylor for $1.1 million, renaming it “Taylor-Burton”. Miss Taylor wore the diamond to a charity ball in Monaco in Mid-November as a pendant. In 1978 Elizabeth Taylor announced she was selling the diamond and using some of the proceeds to build a hospital in Botswana. In order to inspect the diamond prospect diamonds had to pay $2500 to cover the showings cost. In June 1979, it was sold for nearly $3 million was last reported to be in Saudi Arabia.