Famous Diamonds

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The Agra

The city of Agra was founded by the Mogul Emperors who made it their capitol for more than a hundred years in the 1500's and 1600's until Aurangzeb, the 6th mogul emperor transferred the seat of the monarchy to Delhi in 1658. It was in Agra that Akbar received a letter from Queen Elizabeth I of England and Jahangir issued a charter to the British East India Company in 1612, granting it freedom to trade in India.

The story of the Agra Diamond begins in 1526 when Babur the first Mogul emperor (1483-1530) took possession of Agra after defeating the Rajah of Gwailor in battle. Babur was the son of Omar Sheik, King of Ferghana (now Turkestan), his real name was Zahir al-Din Muhammed, but he was given the name Babur, meaning 'the tiger.' He was both a brilliant soldier and scholar, determined to become absolute ruler in India. After his success on the battlefield, Babur sent his son and successor, Humayun, to occupy Agra, a feat he duly accomplished in the process capturing members of the family of the slain Raja. Their lives were spared. It is said that as an expression of their gratitude they presented their captors with jewels and precious stones. Since it is recorded that Babur wore the Agra Diamond in his turban, the stone was probably one of those jewels.

The Ahmadabad

Ahmadabad, the capitol of the Indian state of Gujarat, is located 550 km north of Bombay, on the Sabarmati River. The city has long been a center for trading and cutting diamonds, both of which are still pursued there today (although to a lesser degree). One famous visitor to Ahmadabad in the 1600s was the French traveler and gem merchant, Jean Baptiste Tavernier. Over a period of 40 years, he made six trips to the East. In chapter XXII of part II of his book Travels in India , Tavernier described some of the notable diamonds and rubies which he had seen during the course of his travels, often accompanied with illustrations, from which the following is from:

"No. 4 represents a diamond which I bought at Ahmadabad for one of my friends. It weighed 178 ratis, or 157½ of our carats...[no. 5] represents the shape of the above mentioned diamond after it had been cut on both sides. Its weight was then 94½ carats. The flat side, where there are two flaws at the base, was thin as a sheet of thick paper. When I had the stone cut I had this thin portion removed, together with a part of the point above, where a small speck of the flaw still remains."

This is the only instance of Tavernier supplying drawings of both rough and polished forms of a diamond. The briolette-shaped diamond was presumably cut in Ahmadabad: after that its history is uncertain. Who was the friend Tavernier purchased the diamond for? The most likely person was his sovereign, Louis XIV of France, to whom he had sold several diamonds, among them two briolettes. But there was never any reference to a diamond such as the Ahmadabad entering the Crown Jewels of France. Others, including Edwin Streeter, the author of two books on famous diamonds, have indicated that the diamond may have found its way to Persia via one of the numerous ports of Gujarat which served as a gateway to the Persian Gulf and Arabia, but no trace of it has been found among the Iranian Crown Jewels. A 'friend' is an unlikely epithet to the mighty Aurengzeb, the last of the Mogul emperors (1659-1707) and a noted collector of diamonds, of which one is reputed to have been the Ahmadabad. It is more likely that the 'friend' was one of the emperor's courtiers, who would have bought the gem for the emperor.

The Ahmadabad is next reported to have belonged to the Begum, Hazrat Mahal, the wife King Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh, who had been exiled to Calcutta by the British after his refusal to sign a treaty of abdication at the time of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. She was a beautiful woman and an outspoken rebel leader at the time of the Mutiny. When British forces regained control after the rebellion, she fled to Nepal where, it is said, she traded the diamond in return for her safe passage.

It is unlikely that the Ahmadabad Diamond has completely disappeared. It should be noted that its weight is lighter than that of the recorded weight of 90.5 carats of the Ahmadabad; however, such a drop in weight might be explained by its transformation from a briolette to a pear shape. But of greater significance is the fact that this gem possesses a minor flaw at its base, at the culet facet. Is it not probable that this is one of the two small specks of flaw which Tavernier stated had remained after the cutting had taken place? Therefore, it is possible that this diamond, besides possessing a notable beauty found in the finest diamonds from the historic Golconda mines of India, is also a long-lost gem.

The Ahmadabad has been graded by the GIA as D-color, VS1 clarity and was accompanied by a working diagram indicating that the clarity is improvable. The gem is an antique pear-shaped brilliant and its weight is 78.86 carats. I have not seen its GIA certificate but I would wager its culet was graded as Extremely Large, as can be seen in the photo above. I am guessing the gem was was more of a double-sided rose cut originally, with a pear-shaped outline, essentially a somewhat flattened briolette. Also, the pavilion mains are horizontally split, a cutting step visible in the above photo. The gem came up for sale at Christie's in Geneva in November of 1995 when it was bought by Robert Mouawad for $4,324,554. Sources: Famous Diamonds by Ian Balfour, Travels in India by Jean Baptiste Tavernier (translated into English by Valentine Ball), and various internet/magazine articles.

The Allnatt

When Porter Rhodes traveled to the Isle of Wight in 1881 to show to his fine white diamond crystal to Queen Victoria and Empress Eugénie of France, who was at that time residing nearby, he helped to dispel a myth: South African diamonds were usually yellowish in color and therefore less valuable. Both the Queen but in particular the Empress, who was knowledgeable about diamonds, believed this to be true and were, therefore, surprised to examine a fine white octahedral crystal originating from the Cape Mines of South Africa. It was not until the Excelsior was found in 1893, the Jubilee in 1895 and above all, the discovery of the Premier Mine in 1902 that South Africa finally achieved recognition as a source of large white diamonds as well as yellow ones.

The early years of the South African diamond mining industry certainly witnessed the appearance, in unheard of numbers, of large yellow crystals, many of them octahedral in shape. The reigning Shah of Persia, Nasir ud-Din Shah (1848-1860) was among the first to appreciate them because he added numerous yellow diamonds to the Crown Jewels of Iran, the largest of which is a 135-carat monster rivaling the Regent Diamond in size and shape. A few, including the Tiffany Yellow, came from the Kimberly Mine but by far the greatest number originated in the De Beers Mine, which is the most likely source the Allnatt originated from.

This 102.29-carat cushion cut, its color having been certified by the GIA as Fancy Vivid Yellow, VS2 clarity, is named after its former owner, Alfred Ernest Allnatt. He was a soldier, a sportsman, an active patron of the arts and a noted benefactor in many spheres. He paid a then world record price for The Adoration of the Magi by Rubens which he presented to King's College, Cambridge, England, as an alterpiece for its famous chapel. He also had a passion for the Turf and bought 11 yearlings formerly owned by the late Sir Sultan Mohammed Aga Khan; he commented at the time, "All I know about horses is they are nice things to amble about on." The Aga Khan also owned several exceptional diamonds, among them the 33.13-carat pear-shaped Aga Khan III, which came up for sale at Christie's in Geneva in May of 1988.

Major Allnatt did not buy any of the Aga Khan's diamonds to add to his yearlings, but he did purchase this very fine diamond and in the early-1950s he commissioned Cartier to design a floral brooch setting for it. The piece is a design of a flower with five petals, lined with white baguette-cut diamonds, the petals themselves being comprised of brilliant cut diamonds, and the stem and two leaves also being comprised of the same cutting styles. The Allnatt is at the center of the flower. The entire piece is made of platinum. It was auctioned by Christies, again in Geneva, in May of 1996. On that occasion it fetched the phenomenal sum of $3,043,496. The present owner of the gem is the SIBA Corporation.

The Amsterdam

This rare black diamond of African origin is reported to be completely black. It weighs 33.74 carats, has 145 facets and was cut from a 55.85-carat rough. The stone was first shown in February, 1973, at D. Drukker & Zn., Amsterdam. It was auctioned off in November, 2001, for $352,000, setting a world record for the highest price fetched by black diamond at auction. The stone is cut in a pear shape, with horizontally split main facets on the crown.

The Archduke Joseph

This 76.45-carat diamond gets its name from from Archduke Joseph August (1872-1962), a previous owner of the gem and a prince of the Hungarian line of the Hapsburg dynasty. The Archduke was a descendant of the Emperor Leopold II, son of Empress Maria Theresa who owned the famous Florentine Diamond, one of the most notable and unique diamonds in history and an heirloom of the Hapsburgs for many years. But whereas the Florentine was unusually large for an Indian diamond and light yellow in color, the Archduke Joseph is a colorless diamond; it possesses the most notable characteristic of the best Golconda diamonds, namely a high internal clarity. Thus its D-color certification. It is cut in a rectangular cushion shape, perhaps a style of cutting that is not entirely unfitting with its Indian origin.

The Archduke Joseph - better known as Joseph of Alcsut - was the oldest son of Duke Joseph Carl Ludwig and Princess Clothilde of Saxe-Coburg. He married Augusta in 1893, daughter of Prince Leopold of Bavaria, Duchess of Gisela, and a granddaughter of Emperor Franz Joseph. He began his eminent military career in 1902 when he enlisted in the Hungarian territorial reserve, simultaneously studying law at Budapest University. On the death of Emperor Franz Joseph he became commander of the Hungarian front line forces during World War I, reconquering the eastern part of Siebenburgen and initiated the negotiations for a cease-fire. In October of 1918, he was named Regent of Hungary by the Emperor Charles I, but his efforts for forming a government were overturned by the onset of the October 31st Revolution, whereupon he retired to his Alcsut estate.

During the so-called "Traitor Republic," due to his great popularity, Archduke Joseph was put under surveillance while remaining at Alcsut. In August of 1919 he succeeded in becoming the Regent of Hungary but was compelled to resign within two months because the Allied Forces would not allow a Hapsburg to hold a commanding position in Hungary. In late 1944 he emigrated to the United States and returned to Europe to live with his sister, Princess Margaret von Thurn und Taxis, and published several memoirs and historical studies. He died in 1962, not completely removed from politics, having become a member of the Upper House soon after its restoration.

It is thought that at some point he gave the diamond to his son, Joseph Francis (1895-1957). Minutes taken on June 1st, 1933 record that the diamond, at the time belonging to Archduke Joseph, was at the time deposited with the Hungarian General Credit Bank in the presence of a state counselor. Three years later the diamond was sold to a European banker who kept it in a safe deposit box in France during World War II, where it fortunately escaped the attention of the Nazis.

The location of this stone remained a mystery until it came up for auction in London in June, 1961. At the time it was believed to be the largest loose fine quality diamond ever to have been auctioned in Great Britain, but it was withdrawn from the sale when the bidding stopped at £145,000. Later it was reported that a syndicate of Hatton Garden buyers had made an unsuccessful bid for the diamond. It came up for sale again at Christie's in Geneva in November of 1993, when it was sold for $6,487,945. The diamond originally weighed 78.54 carats but was slightly recut in the late-1990's by Molina Fine Jewelers down to its present 76.45-carat weight. The diamond has been graded as being Internally Flawless. Sources: Famous Diamonds by Ian Balfour, and various magazine articles.

The Arcots

The Hanoverian rulers of Great Britain amassed a large collection of personal jewelry and Queen Charlotte, the consort of King George III, was surely no excpetion. She received many jewels, the most notable being the diamonds she was given by the Nawab of Arcot. These included five brilliants, the larest of which was a 38.6-carat oval-shaped stone and was later set in a necklace with the two smallest stones.

Arcot, a town near Madras, became famous for its capture and defense by Clive in 1751 during the war between the rival claimants to the throne of the Carnatic. In 1801 it passed into British hands following the resignation of the government of Nawab Azim-Ud-Daula, who had given the diamonds to Queen Charlotte in 1777.

The Ashberg

It is said that this amber-colored, cushion-shaped diamond weighing 102.48 carats, was formerly part of the Russian Crown Jewels. It must have been a late addition to that collection because the stone bears all the characteristics of one from South Africa. In 1934 the Russian Trade Delegation sold the diamond to Mr. Ashberg, a leading Stockholm banker. The Stockholm firm of Bolin, former Crown Jewellers to the Court of St. Petersburg, mounted it as a pendant. In 1949 the Ashberg was displayed, mounted in a necklace containing diamonds and other gemstones, at the Amsterdam Exhibition, the aim of which was to attract new workers to the diamond industry.

Ten years later the Bukowski auction house in Stockholm put the Ashberg up for sale but it failed to reach its reserve and was withdraw. Then its owner succeeded in selling the gem to a private buyer whose name was not revealed. Finally, in May, 1981, Christies auctioned the diamond in Geneva where once again it failed to reach its reserve and was withdrawn. Source: Diamonds - Famous, Notable and Unique by GIA and Famous Diamonds by Ian Balfour.

The Beau Sancy

At the time of the marriage of Prince Albert of Prussia with Princess Mary of Sachsen-Altenburg in Berlin, the bridge was described in the newspaper accounts of the wedding as wearing "the crown necklace, with the celebrated 'Sancy' diamond." Much surprise and mystification were caused by this statement, apparently made on authority; for amongst the many strange peregrinations of the "celebrated 'Sancy' diamond," a visit to the Prussian "Schatz-Kammer" had not hitherto been mentioned. We are now in a position to clear up the mystery, thanks to the subjoined extract from an official communication obligingly made to us on June 7th, 1881, by Herr Smernitz, minister of the Royal Household, Berlin: --

"Amongst the numerous diamonds of the Royal Treasury there is one only possessing historical interest. This is a brilliant of splendid shape weighing 34 carats, worn as a pendant to a necklace, and known as the 'Little Sancy.' This diamond was bought by Prince Frederick Henry of Orange, who died in the year 1647, and who was grandfather of King Frederick I of Prussia. Through King Frederick it passed from the Orange bequests to the Prussian Royal Treasury."

It thus appears that at her wedding Princess Mary of Sachen-Altenburg wore not the celebrated "Sancy" diamond, but this "Little Sancy", correctly enough described as attached to the "crown necklace." Of the very existance of this "Little Sancy", the public has been hitherto profoundly ignorant. Nor does it even now appear by what right it bears the name "Sancy" at all. The explanation, however, is not far to seek. We already have seen that Nicholas Harlai, Signeur de Sancy, was evidently a diamond collector, and that he died in the year 1627. After his death his collection was no doubt dispersed by his family, and in this way the diamond, weighing 34 carats, would be thrown into the market. Hence its purchase by Frederick Henry of Orange, in 1647, is easily accounted for. A diamond of its weight, rare enough in those days, at least in Europe, would naturally be associated with its owner, the famous collector, M. Sancy, and as the largest, weighing 54 carats, was known as the "Great Sancy"; the other, weighing 34 carats probably the next in size, took the name of the "Little Sancy." Source: Great Diamonds of the World , by Edwin Streeter, second edition, printed 1882.

The above account of this diamond was written by Edwin Streeter. He was the first author to write in-depth on the subject of famous diamonds. His book Great Diamonds of the World actually went on to have about five or six editions. This diamond is now more commonly known as the Beau Sancy Diamond.

Nicholas Harlay de Sancy, diplomat, financier and ardent monarchist, is remembered as the owner of the 55.23-carat shield-shaped diamond, the Sancy, one of the most celebrated gems in history. Sancy also owned another sizeable and beautiful diamond whose existence was documented on January 31st, 1589 as follows:

"A great flawless diamond, facet cut, weight 37 to 38 carats or thereabouts, set in a golden frame and the end of which hangs a great round pearl, flawless and perfect, of about 20 carats; also a great heart-shaped ruby set in gold at the base of which hangs a great pear-shaped pearl, for the price of 20,000 ecus. The large jewels were pladged and put into the hands of the said Sieur de Sancy that he might pawn them in Switzerland, Germany or elsewhere with the charge that if they were pledged for less than 24,000 ecus. His Majesty will only pay the said Sancy the price for which they were pledged."

This diamond came to be known as the 'Beau Sancy', or 'Little Sancy' and was destined to pursue a different course of history from Sancy's larger diamond. The Beau Sancy is a colorless, rounded pear shape, cut with a total of 110 facets, including the two small table facets.

Both of Nicholas de Sancy's diamonds came to be the subject of protracted negotiations with parties in Constantinople and the Duke of Mantua, a connoisseur and avid collector of fine gems. On October 10th, 1589, Sancy wrote to M. de la Brosse, who was acting on behalf of the Duke:

"One of my diamonds weighs 60 [old] carats. I want nothing less than 80,000 ecus for the big diamond and 60,000 for the smaller. If it pleases His Highness to take one or both of them, I will sell them to him, but I wish ready money, or most of it guaranteed, for the rest, in Venice or France, and wish no delay for the most shall not exceed three years."

The negotiations with the Duke of Mantua continued well into 1604 and ultimately came to nothing. Instead, Sancy sold the large diamond to King James I of England. There remained the Beau Sancy which, in 1604, was bought for merely 25,000 ecus by Marie de Médicis, the consort of King Henry IV of France. In The French Crown Jewels , Bernard Morel suggests that it is a strong bet that the King himself paid for the diamond in order to assuage the feelings of indignation aroused in the Queen when she learned that Sancy had sold his bigger diamond to the King of England. The Beau Sancy was set in the top of the crown which Marie de Médicis wore at her coronation in 1610.

After the murder of Henry IV in the same year, the Queen became Regent and devoted herself to affairs of state; she developed a passion for power which led to civil unrest in France and estrangement from her son, King Louis XIII. Marie de Médicis was exiled in disgrace to Compiégne, escaped to Brussels in 1631 and at Cologne in 1642, having intrigued in vain against Cardinal Richelieu, the statesman who is acknowledged as the architect of France's greatness in the seventeenth century. She died in straitened financial circumstances which led to the sale of her possessions to pay her debts. The Beau Sancy was sold to Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange, for 80,000 florins. It is said that history never repeats itself but does sometimes produce curious parallels: in 1644, two years after the death of Marie de Médicis, her daughter, Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of Charles I, King of England, was forced to pawn the Sancy's large diamond so as to raise funds to support the Royalist cause in the Civil War in England.

Prince Frederick Henry (1584 - 1687), the son of William the Silent, the principal leader of the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain, achieved fame as a general and a politician. He was the first of his line to assume, as leader of the United Provinces of Holland, a semi-monarchical status and to determine both domestic and foreign policies. Until the age of 41 it was said of him that he was 'too fond of women to tie himself permanently to one of them.' He did eventually succumb, to endow the Hague in the seventeenth century with some semblance of baroque court life.

It was a grandson of Prince Frederick Henry who, in 1689, ascended the throne of England as William III. He inherited the Beau Sancy and gave it to his consort, Queen Mary II, as a wedding gift. The couple were childless so the diamond came into the possession of another grandson of the Prince of Orange, Frederick III, Elector Prince of Brandenburg, who, in 1701, became King of Prussia under the name of Frederick I. Valued at 300,000 Reichstalers, the Beau Sancy became the most important stone in the Crown Jewels of Prussia and was set in the royal crown. In an inventory of the crown jewels made in 1913 the diamond featured as the pendant to a necklace of 22 diamonds, part of a diamond suite which also included a large breast ornament, a pair of earrings and a fan.

The Beau Sancy is now in the possession of the head of the house of Hohenzollern, Prince Louis-Ferdinand of Prussia, grandson of William II, the last Emperor of Germany. Source: Famous Diamonds by Ian Balfour and Thomas Cletscher's Sketchbook, published in the seventeenth century.

The Black Orlov

According to the legend, the Black Orlov is said to have taken its name from the Russian Princess Nadia Vyegin-Orlov who owned it for time during the mid-eighteenth century. It is a 67.50-carat cushion-cut stone, a so-called black diamond (actually, a very dark gun-metal color). It is reported to have belonged to a nineteenth-century shrine near Pondicherry, India, and to have weighed 195 carats in the rough.

The stone has been exhibited widely, including at the American Museum of Natural History in 1951, the Wonderful World of Fine Jewelry & Gifts at the 1964 Texas State Fair, Dallas, and the Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg in 1967.

The Blue Heart

Some reports refer to this unusual diamond as the "Eugenie Blue" although it is now recognized that there is no evidence of its having been owned by the Empress. Had she owned it, wouldn't she have chosen to flee with it rather than the diamond which is named after her? However, a French link does exist because the cutting firm of Atanik Ekyanan of Neuilly, Paris cut this heart shape, which weighs 30.82 metric carats and is of a rare deep blue color, sometime between 1909 and 1910. This date raises the question whether the rough stone came from Africa or India.

The Blue Magic

Historically, blue diamonds originated from the Kollur mines near Golconda in the Indian state of Hyderabad. It is here that historically important stones such as the Hope Diamond and the Tereschenko were mined. Most of what is known about early mining activity in India comes through the 17th century traveler and one of the premier gem-merchants of his time, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier.

His main client was Louis XIV and it is known that he sold to the King a very large blue diamond known as the French Blue which is thought to have yielded the Hope; it is here that the history of blue diamonds began. These Indian deposits have now been worked out and so nearly all the blue diamonds that now appear on the market come from the Premier Mine near Pretoria in South Africa.

Natural blue diamonds are among the rarest of colored diamonds and their color comes from the presence of minute amounts of the element boron incorporated within the crystal lattice of the stone during its crystallization process. They belong to the extremely rare Type IIB category of diamonds and are semi-conductors of electricity; an attribute which makes them unique amongst other diamonds.

The pear-shaped diamond of 12.02 carats offered here is part of a very elite group of remarkable blue diamonds offered at auction and has been awarded the highest color grade of VIVID by the GIA. Furthermore it is to date the largest vivid blue diamond to appear at auction making it a highly rare and collectible gem."

The stone did not sell. Christies was predicting it to go for between $5 and $6 million U.S. dollars. I contacted Christies.com and asked them about the stone, they told me that the owner does not plan to put it back up for auction in the foreseeable future.

The Briolette of India

The Briolette of India is a legendary diamond of 90.38 carats, which, if the fables about it are true, may be the oldest diamond on record, perhaps older than the Koh-I-Noor Diamond. In the 12th century, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the first Queen of France and later England, brought the stone to England. Her son, Richard the Lionhearted, is said to have taken it on the Third Crusade.

The Centenary

The diamond Jubilee of De Beers Consolidated Mines passed off quietly in 1948, the massive post-WWII growth and expansion of the diamond industry had barely begun, while several important sources of diamonds, including the Premier Mine, were still closed, while others remained to be discovered. Forty years later the annual output of diamonds exceeded 100 million carats and sales of rough diamonds reached around $5 billion.

No more fitting way of celebrating 100 years of achievement by De Beers could have been devise than the discovery of such a diamond and nowhere was it more likely to have been recovered than at the Premier Mine. Over the years this extraordinary mine has produced several outstanding diamonds of the most superb color, which have been cut into famous gems: The Cullinan in 1905; the Niarchos in 1954; the Taylor-Burton in 1966 and the Premier Rose in 1978. Now that the second millennium has ended, it is interesting to reflect that only nineteen gem-quality diamonds larger than the Centenary rough have been found during its course. The Premier Mine itself has produced nearly three hundred stones weighing more than 100 carats, and a quarter of the world's diamonds weighing more than 400 carats.

The Centenary was found on July 17th, 1986 by the electric X-ray recovery system at the Premier Mine. Only a handful of people knew about it and all were sworn to silence. In its rough form it resembled an irregular matchbox with angular planes, a prominent elongated "horn" jutting out at one corner and a deep concave on the largest flat surface. The shape of the stone expressed problems in cutting with no apparent solution.

The man chosen to evaluate the Centenary was Gabi Tolkowsky, famed in the diamond industry as one of the most accomplished cutters in the world. His family had long been in the diamond trade and it was his great-uncle, Marcel Tolkowsky, diamond expert and mathematician, who published a book in 1919 titled "Diamond Design", which for the first time set out exact ways of cutting the modern round brilliant cut. Gabi Tolkowsky himself was the creator of five new diamond cuts, revealed in 1988, which concentrate on maximizing brilliance, color or yield - or a combination of all three from off-color rough diamonds previously thought difficult to cut profitably into conventional round or fancy shapes. Named for flowers, the cuts are largely based on unorthadox angle dimensions. The overall proportions as well as the use of more facets around the pavilion increase brilliance and improve visual impact when viewed face-up.

The Conde

The Grand Condé is one of the most unusual of the world's notable diamonds: a light pink pear-shaped stone of 9.01 carats. Agents of Louis XIII are said to have bought the stone in 1643 after which the King presented it to Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, who had distinguished himself as Commander of the French Army in the Thirty Years' War and who became known as the Grand Condé. Until his death in 1686, the Prince was known as an enthusiastic patron of the arts and an ardent admirer of various charming women, one of whom described him as a much more effective and able general than paramour!

The diamond remained in the Condé family until the Duc d'Aumale bequeathed it to the French Government in 1892. Today, it is on display in the Museé de Condé in Chantilly, France, where according to the terms of the Duc's will, it must always remain. On October 11th, 1926, the diamond was stolen from the museum but later found and returned. It is also known variously as the Condé Pink, the Condé Diamond, or Le Grand Condé.

The Cullinan Diamonds

The Cullinan I - aka the Star of Africa. 530.20 carats.

Royal Scepter with Star of Africa
(The stone can be removed from the Royal Scepter and worn as a pin or pendant.)

The Star of Africa, a pear shaped diamond weighing 530.20 carats, aka the Cullinan I. It measures 53mm x 44mm x 29mm, and has 76 facets (counting the culet and the table). It's called the Cullinan I because it's the largest of the 9 large stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond. The Cullinan II is the massive 317.40 carat cushion shaped diamond in the center-front of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain. The Crown also features the Black Prince's Ruby, as well as St. Edward's Sapphire, and the Stuart Sapphire. All the stones in the crown seem to have a history. :) The Star of Africa holds the place of 2nd largest cut diamond in the world. The Star of Africa is on display with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

The Darya-i-Nur

Considered to be the most celebrated diamond in the Iranian Crown Jewels and one of the oldest known to man, the 186-carat Darya-i-Nur is a crudely fashioned stone measuring 41.40 × 29.50 × 12.15mm. The name means Sea of Light, River of Light, or Ocean of Light.

Both the Darya-i-Nur and the historic Koh-i-Noor are said to have been in the possession of the first Mogul emperor of India, from whom they descended to Mohammed Shah. When the latter was defeated by Persia's Nadir Shah during the sack of Delhi in 1739, he surrendered all his chief valuables, including the diamonds and the well-known Peacock Throne.

After Nadir's assassination in 1741, he Darya-i-Nur was inherited by his grandson, Shah Rokh. Later, it descended in succession to Mirza-Alam Khan Khozeime and thence to Mohammed Hassan Khan Qajar. Finally, it came into the possession of Lotf-Ali Khan Zand, who was defeated by Aga Mohammed Khan Khan Qajar.

In 1797, Aga Mohammed was succeeded by his grandson, Fath Ali Shah, who was both a collector and connoisseur of gems and whose name is engraved on one side of the great diamond.

In 1827, Sir John Malcolm, a British emissary to the Persian Court and author of Sketches of Persia , described the Darya-i-Nur and the Taj-e-Mah (another famous diamond in the Persian Regalia) as the principal stones in a pair of bracelets valued at one million pounds sterling.

During the reign of the next shah, Nasser-ed-Din (1831-1896), the stone was mounted in an elaborate frame, which is surmounted by the Lion and Sun (the emblem of the Imperial Government of Iran) and set with four hundred fifty-seven diamonds and four rubies. It is still mounted in that same frame today.

Although some researchers contend that the Darya-i-Nur was acquired by the East India Co. and exhibited at London's Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, Iranian officials at the Central Bank of Iran in Tehran, where the Crown Jewels are kept, told the Gemological Institute of America in 1964 that it has never left the Treasure Vaults.

In 1906, Mohammed Ali Shah, after being defeated by the Constitutionalists while carrying the diamond and other valuables with him during the Persian Revolution, took refuge in the Russian Legation and claimed that the jewels were his personal property. However, as a result of intense efforts made by the freedom fighters, this priceless token of Nadir's conquests was restored to the country.

Today, the Darya-i-Nur holds a prominent place among the Iranian Crown Jewels. The Iranian Crown Jewels were studied and authenticated in 1966 by Dr. V.B. Meen of the Royal Ontario Museum. It is now believed that the Darya-i-Nur is the major portion of Tavernier's Great Table. Source: DIAMONDS - Famous, Notable and Unique - GIA

It should be noted that the exact weight of the Darya-i-Nur is not really known. The figure of 186 carats listed here by GIA is an estimate. The stone is estimated to weigh somewhere between 175 and 195 carats, and it is a light pink color. The reason the exact weight is not known is because the stone cannot be removed from its setting without major risk of destroying the setting. It is more than likely that the stone was cut from the Great Table Diamond, and stone that was described by Jean Baptiste Tavernier as being over 400 carats, pink, and very flat.

The De Beers

Not long after the formation of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in March 1888, a huge light yellow octahedral crystal was found in the De Beers Mine. The gem weighed 428.50 old carats (old carats being the pre-1913 non-metric carat) and measured 47.6 mm through its longest axis and 38.1 mm square. Excluding Victoria, aka the Great White or Jacob, the source of which remains doubtful, the De Beers was the largest diamond found at the four mines at Kimberly during the time period.

Weighing 234.65 carats, the De Beers is the seventh largest faceted diamond in the world, not including the Nizam, a now-lost stone which is said to have been only partially cut. It isn't known where the De Beers was cut, but because of its pre-eminence as a cutting center at the time it is very likely that the work was carried out in Amsterdam.

The De Young Red

A red diamond weighing in at 5.03 carats. The cut is a round brilliant, but as you can see, the main kite-shaped facets on the crown are horizontally divided in two, giving the stone slightly more brilliance than a standard round brilliant. This stone was once bought at estate sale mistakenly as a red garnet! (It is not a pure red, however, there is a slight brown hue to the stone, which is what makes it appear more like a fine garnet than ruby like the Hancock Red and the Red Shield.) It is the third largest red diamond in the world. The second largest is simply known as the Red Diamond, an emerald cut weighing 5.05 carats. The diamond was found as a rough in South Africa in 1927, and was later bought and put in a private collection, unfortunately its whereabouts are presently unknown. The first largest is the Moussaieff Red, a very fine Internally Flawless ruby-red diamond cut by the William Goldberg Diamond Corporation from a 13.90-carat rough and sold to the Moussaieff jewelry firm sometime around the year 2001. At 5.11 carats, it weighs just slightly more than the previously mentioned diamond. The De Young Red is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. A red diamond surrounded by white diamonds set in brooch sold at Christie's Hong Kong auction May 1st, 2001 for about $300,000. The Fancy Red center diamond was only 0.73-carat and was I1 clarity. I am still trying to find out more about that stone.

The Dresden Green

In the rough, greenish diamonds tend to occur as one of three types: a stone, often a crystal shape, possessing a light tinge rather like the color of water in a swimming pool; a stone with a dark green skin; a yellowish-green stone characterized by a degree if lubricity. After being cut and polished, diamonds of the first and second types usually lose their greenish color to become white gems or, alternatively, light yellow stones known as "silvery capes". The few truly green faceted diamonds therefore originate from the third type. The famous collection of De Beers Fancy Colored Diamonds, which has been displayed throughout the world includes some beautiful examples of green diamonds.

Since this is the story of a truly rare gem, a scientific explanation for the phenomenon of green diamonds is needed. The green color is usually caused by the crystal's coming into contact with a radioactive source at some point during its lifetime, and in geological terms, this is measured in millions of years. The most common form of irradiation diamonds chance into is through bombardment by alpha particles which are present in uranium compounds or percolating groundwater. Long exposure to these particles forms a green spot on the surface of the diamond, or sometimes produces a thin green coating which is only skin deep and can easily be removed during the faceting process. But bombardment by beta and gamma rays well as neutrons will color the stone to a greater depth and in some cases turn the whole stone's interior green.

Heating the stone might sometimes improve the color but care must be taken to keep the temperature below 600°C, because at this temperature the green color is likely to turn to a light yellow or brown. The change in color is caused by the change in the crystal's lattice structure. Before bombardment by radioactive particles the crystal's lattice was stable but the initial radioactive shock was sufficient to disturb the equilibrium and produce a green coloration. Tempering will distort the lattice further and produce another change of color. This phenomena is analogous to a piece of elastic that has been overstretched; it will stretch back so far, but never returns to its original length. Similarly, after a treatment the diamond's lattice remains permanently distorted.

The Earth Star

The Earth Star was cut from a rough gem weighing 248.9 carats found in the Jagersfontein Mine on May 16th, 1967. It traveled right through the recovery process until it appeared on the grease table in the recovery plant. Not surprisingly its appearance caused a commotion at the mine and to many in the diamond industry because too because among the numerous fine diamonds found at Jagersfontein, there had been few brown gems. In all its long existence, the mine had never been known for producing large stones of this color. Moreover this specimen came from the 2500-foot level of the mine workings, which is exceptionally deep in a volcanic diamond-bearing pipe for a gem of this size to be found in.

Baumgold Bros. of New York purchased the stone and cut it into a pear shape weighing 111.59 carats, then the largest faceted brown diamond in the world. The diamond was found to have a greater degree of brilliance than is usually seen in a gem of such a strong color: the combination of color and brilliance led to Joseph Baumgold naming it the Earth Star. The diamond returned to South Africa in 1971 for display at the exhibition held to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of the Kimberly Mine. The diamond would later be bought in 1983 for $900,000 by Stephen Zbova of Naples, Florida.

The Eureka

This 10.73-carat brilliant is not, by ordinary standards, exceptional. However, it was cut from the first diamond found in South Africa and therefore has historical significance. In 1866 a shepherd boy found a small, shiny stone on the south bank of the Orange River near Hopetown. The pebble was kept for a while by a 15-year-old boy named Erasmus Jacobs, who later gave it to his neighbor, farmer Schalk van Niekerk, a collector of unusual stones. Van Niekerk entrusted the pebble to John O'Reilly, a traveling peddler, who sent it, in an unsealed envelope, to Dr W.G. Atherstone of Grahamstown, one of the few people in the Cape Colony who knew anything about minerals and gems. Dr Atherstone identified it as a 21.25-carat brownish yellow diamond. It was sold for £1500 to Sir Phillip Wodehouse. The diamond was shown at the Paris Exposition in 1867 and later cut to its present form. Although Erasmus Jacobs never found another diamond, Van Niekerk was luckier. Three years later, having learned something of precious stones, he bought what became known as the Star of South Africa.

The Excelsior

The Excelsior I, set in an elaborate bracelet by Mouawad.

On may 28th, 1971, a sad but inevitable event in mining history occurred: operations finally stopped at the Jagersfontein Mine. Not long before, the mine had celebrated its centenary, the first diamond having been picked up in the Jagersfontein valley in the Orange Free State in August of 1870. Although Jagersfontein was the first South Africa 'pipe' or 'dry diggings' to have been established, its fame was always overshadowed by the mines in the Kimberly district, about 130 km northwest. Yet the output of the mine was great enough to inspire the term "Jagers" to denote a diamond with a beautiful faint bluish tint. In addition Jagersfontein was the source of two of the largest and finest diamonds ever found.

The earlier of these discoveries caused the most dramatic moment in the mine's history. On the evening of June 30th, 1893, an African picked up an immense diamond in a shovel of gravel which he was loading into a truck; he hid it from his overseer and delivered it directly to the hands of the Mine Manager. As a reward he received £500 plus a horse equipped with a saddle and bridle.

The diamond weighed 971 old carats, equivalent to 995.2 metric carats. It possessed the fore mentioned blue-white color characteristic of the finest Jagersfontein diamonds, especially cleavages, and was of very fine quality, although there were a number of internal black spots, another Jagersfontein characteristic. The shape of the stone was out of the ordinary: flat on one side and rose to a peak on the other, somewhat like a loaf of rye bread. Apparently this is what inspired the diamond to be named 'Excelsior', meaning higher.

The Excelsior may justly lay claim to be the 'Great Unknown' of famous diamonds. As will be explained further along, there is no single Excelsior fragment of exceptional size which would have helped to keep its name in the public eye, thus helping keep track of the fragments. In addition, except for having stimulated some interest among local diggers, the finding of such a large stone seems to have made singularly little impact. No account of the discovery appeared in the more authoritative and prestigious British newspapers which often reported lesser discoveries at the time. Maybe if the diamond had been originally been given a less unglamorous name its fame might have spread further outside of South Africa. Yet consider the facts ... before the discovery of the Excelsior the only rival to the stone was the legendary Great Mogul, of Indian origin, generally thought to have weighed 787½ old carats in the rough. The so-called Braganza Diamond, which was found in Brazil in the 1700s and according to some sources weighed 1680 carats, was considered to have been a white sapphire, topaz or light aquamarine, very unlikely a diamond. So the the Excelsior still ranks as the second largest rough diamond of gem quality ever found, only the Cullinan being larger.

After various highs and lows the Jagersfontein Mine eventually became the sole property of the New Jagersfontein Mining & Exploration Company Limited, formed in April of 1887. It so happened that on the very day the Excelsior was found the contract between the mining company and the consortium of London firms which purchased the mine's output expired. If the diamond had been found a few hours earlier it would have made a substantial difference in profit to the parties concerned. However, the Excelsior was shipped to the London offices, located at 29 and 30 Holborn Viaduct, of Messieurs Wernher, Beit & Co., the largest of the ten firms that comprised of the London consortium. Wernher, Beit & Co. sought to insure the diamond for £40,000 but could only get insurance to the extent of £16,250.

The Florentine

This cubic zirconium replica was designed and cut by Scott Sucher. Sucher said he had to use mathematics to figure out the angles and measurements of the sides of the stone because of a lack of information about it. Only Jean-Baptiste Tavernier's drawing of the stone and a few black and white photos (from prior to 1921 when the stone disappeared) exist.

The Golden Jubilee

The Golden Jubilee is the largest faceted diamond in the world, weighing 545.67 carats. The stone was designed by Gabi Tolkowsky, who also designed the 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond, which is the largest D-Flawless diamond in the world. The Golden Jubilee was presented to the King of Thailand in 1997 for his Golden Jubilee - the 50th anniversary of his coronation. Prior to this event, the stone was simply known as the Unnamed Brown.

The Graff Asscher Cut

The stone is 'Asscher cut', which is a modern emerald cut that leans towards square rather than rectangular. It weighs 21.46 carats, is a D in color grade (completely colorless) and FL in clarity (flawless). This might not be a REALLY famous diamond right now, but it might be some day - it certainly has the potential. The ring has appeared in a series of ads in the New York Times, along with a 25.74-carat D-Flawless oval shaped diamond, and a large heart cut diamond, both in rings.

The Graff Blue

Not to be confused with the Graff Imperial Blue, which I am still looking for a photo of. I was not able to find many details about this stone, other than its weight, which is 6.19 carats. If Graff ever goes into more detail about their unusual stones, I'll post more about this one. Judging from this photo, and the fact the company is Graff, the stone is probably not irradiated, and is at least a VS1 in clarity.

The Graff Cushion Cut

This 11.89-carat D-color, Internally Flawless cushion shaped diamond has been featured a number of times in the Graff's advertisements in the New York Times newspaper. Cushion is one of the oldest diamond cuts there is. Many of the older cushion cuts, often called Old Mine Cuts, have steep crown and pavilion main facets, a culet facet, and a small table. When Marcel Tolkowsky pioneered the modern round brilliant around 1913, the angles could be incorporated into cushion cuts, thus giving them more fire.

This is another one of those diamonds that might not be famous right now, but maybe someday. Its size is not great compared to other famous diamonds, but its fine color and clarity make it unusual, combined with its relatively uncommon cut.

The Great Chrysanthemum

In the summer of 1963, a 198.28-carat fancy brown diamond was found in the South African diamond fields. This unusual stone was purchased by Julius Cohen, New York City manufacturing jeweler, under whose direction it was fashioned by the firm of S & M Kaufman into a 104.15-carat pear shape. The stone has a total of 189 facets (67 on the crown, 65 on the girdle, and 57 on the pavilion) and measures 25mm wide, 39mm long, and 16.2mm deep. It is mounted as the central stone in a yellow gold necklace of 410 oval and marquise-shaped diamonds.

In the rough state, the diamond appeared to be a light honey color; after cutting, however, it proved to be a rich golden brown, with overtones of sienna and burnt orange, the warm colors of the brown chrysanthemum after which the stone was named.

The Gruosi

The famous Swiss jeweler Fawaz Gruosi is credited for starting the current enthusiasm for black diamond jewelry, launching the current fashion for black diamond in 1996 by creating some eye-catching collections of jewelry and watches set with black diamonds.

He is now exhibiting a heart-shaped black diamond, the largest black diamond of such cut in the world, weighing 115.34 carats. This heart is the centerpiece of a necklace made of 58.77 carats of smaller black diamonds, 378 white diamonds and 14.10 carats of tsavorite garnets, set in white gold.

It took three years to cut the Gruosi Diamond. Received rough in 1998 from India and weighing 300.12 carats, it was originally planned to have an oval shape, but as cutting progressed, the material of the stone proved extremely fragile and very difficult to work. (This is not uncommon. The Amsterdam Diamond, another famous black diamond, is a stone whose rough form was originally intended for industrial use. When they tried to saw the diamond apart, they realized it was tougher than most industrial diamond material, a characteristic of a gem-quality black diamond. It was faceted from a 55-carat rough into a 33-carat pear shape.) Another famous black diamond is the 67-carat Black Orlov.

The decision was made to cut this diamond in a heart shape, despite the considerable loss of carat-weight. In fact, the final weight loss after cutting and polishing was approximately 184.78 carats. This heart-shaped diamond was cut in Antwerp by one of the greatest black diamond cutting specialists in the world.

The Heart of Eternity

It was expected that some 12-million people would visit the De Beers Millennium Jewels Exhibition at the Millennium Dome in London. There they were on view in a specially designed exhibit for the entire year of 2000. It is worth it to pause a moment and reflect on the rarity of blue diamonds. Pre-20th century accounts of great blue diamonds reinforce the trade's historical links with India, the only known early source of diamonds. These accounts tell of diamonds such as Tavernier Blue (now known as the Hope Diamond; 45.52 carats) and the 30.82-carat Blue Heart, which today are valued for their history and mystique as much as for their rare color. These diamonds are famous because of their incredible rarity - only red diamonds are rarer - and the De Beers collection of blues is something that will never be seen again.

The Hope Diamond

The 45.52 carat steel blue Hope Diamond was found in India back in remote times as a rough crystal weighing 112 carats. It first came to light when Jean Baptiste Tavernier, the noted French traveler of the 17th century, was approached in Indian by a slave who had a very secretive manner about him.

It turned out that he had in his possession an intriguing steel blue stone which at first look seemed to be a large sapphire, but the well-experienced Tavernier soon realized it was a diamond – the largest deep blue diamond in the world.

The Hortensia

King Louis XIV was responsible for the addition of this pale orangey-pink diamond to the Crown Jewels of France. However, the Hortensia was not one of the diamonds which the King had purchased from Jean Baptiste Tavernier, because the largest stone of this particular color which he brought back from India weighed only 14 7/8 carats. The Hortensia was the foremost diamond in the third of the nineteen florets of buttonholes listed in the inventory of the Crown Jewels of France, made in 1691.

The diamond, which weighs 20 carats (20.53 metric carats) is pale orangey-pink, rather flat and rectangular in shape and is cut on five sides. In the 1791 inventory of the Crown Jewels it was valued at no more than 48,000 livres on account of a crack extending from the edge of the girdle to near the culet. It takes its name from Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, undoubtedly because she wore it. Hortense was the daughter of the Empress Josephine, the step-daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte and the mother of Napoleon III.

The Idol's Eye

When you see the term 'a blue-white Golconda diamond', this the type of stone being referred to. The Regent Diamond is another example of a large Golconda stone.

The various published accounts of the early history of the Idol's Eye are worth of being included in A Thousand and One Nights , unfortunately, for the most part they must be considered to be entirely unauthentic. The diamond may have been found at Golconda around 1600, but seven years later it was certainly not seized from the Persian Prince Rahab by the East India Company as payment for debt. No such person is recorded in the history of Persia, and the East India Company was not created until several years later.

The first authenticated fact in the diamond's history was its 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 brilliants." It was knocked down to a mysterious buyer simply designated as "B.B.". Later it is stated that the 34th Ottoman Sultan, Abdul Hamid II (1842-1918) owned the Idol's Eye. However the Idol's Eye would never, as has often been asserted, have been set in the eye of a temple in Benghazi because there are neither temples nor idols in that city, Benghazi having been Muslim since the 8th century AD.

When consideration is given to the shape of the Idol's Eye - something between an Old Mine cut and a triangular brilliant - it is not difficult to envisage its setting elsewhere as an eye. Indeed the stone compares favorably with others deemed to have been set in this manner which suggests that certain idols found in sacred buildings in the East have had very oddly-shaped eye-like orifices. The Idol's Eye weighs 70.21 metric carats and is clearly a Golconda diamond, possessing a slight bluish tinge so characteristic of many diamonds from that source.

The Incomparable

The Incomparable was found in its rough state weighing 890 carats, and was found in the town of Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in the 1980s. It was found by a young young girl playing in a pile of rubble outside her uncle's house. This rubble had been legitimately collected from old mine dumps from the nearby MIBA Diamond Mine, having been rejected during the recovery process as being too bulky to be worth scanning for diamonds. The girl gave the diamond to her uncle, who sold it to some local African diamond dealers, who in turn sold it to a group of Lebanese buyers operating out of Kinshasa.

It was later purchased in Antwerp by the Senior De Beers Buyer. As a result, Sir Philip Oppenheimer, then president of the Central Selling Organization and a De Beers director, sold it to Donald Zale, chairman of the board of the Zale Corporation, the Dallas-based jewelry store chain. He bought the diamond in partnership with Marvin Samuels, of the Premier Gems Corporation, and Louis Glick, both prominent figures in the New York diamond industry. The huge stone was finally unveiled in November, 1984, which coincided with the Zale Corporation's 75th anniversary (their Diamond Anniversary). Shortly afterwards it was put on display at the Natural History wing of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

The Indore Pears

The Indore Pears set as a pair of earrings.

These two diamonds are linked to the Malabar Hill Murder: One evening in January of 1925 at an hour when the hanging gardens of Malabar Hill, one of the most salubrious parts of Bombay, were crowded with people, an official of the Bombay Corporation was driving along its ridge, accompanied by a friend and a Muslim woman. Suddenly their car was attacked by armed men. The official was murdered and the two others were injured badly. Four British officers passing by went to their aid, and managed to detain one of the assailant. The press reported that the evidence indicated that the robbery was not the motive for the crime, but rather revenge or an attempt at abduction. The Times stated that the Bombay police were offering a reward of 10,000 rupees for information, but added that 'it is feared however that the organization behind the gang is so powerful, wealthy and unscrupulous, that it would offer even greater inducements to remain silent.'

The Iranian Yellows

These African diamonds were acquired by Nasseridin Shah on his third trip to Europe in 1889, and are collectively known as the Iranian Yellows. There are a number of collections of large diamonds on display in the Iranian Treasury, however due to security concerns, the largest diamond in this collection, which is a 152.16-carat stone, is not pictured here. The next largest in the collection is the 135.45-carat stone in the center of the photo. This is rather amazing, considering the Regent Diamond, one of the world's most famous, weighs 140.50 carats. Three of the other diamonds shown here are between 114 and 120 carats each.

The center stone in the photo is listed in the GIA book Diamonmds - Famous, Notable and Unique by GIA, as being #2 on a list of 23 diamonds known as the Iranians. The stones are numbered in order of largest to smallest. The list reads as follows:

1 — 152.16 carats; rectangular old brilliant; silver cape
2 — 135.45 carats; high (old) cushion brilliant; cape
3 — 123.93 carats; high (old) cushion brilliant; silver cape
4 — 121.90 carats; multi-faceted octahedron; cape
5 - 114.28 carats; high (old) cushion brilliant; silver cape
6 — 86.61 carats; rounded triangular brilliant; cape
7 — 86.28 carats; irregular Mogul cut; silver cape
8 — 78.96 carats; high (old) cushion brilliant; cape
10 — 75.00 carats (est.); pendeloque brilliant; silver cape
11 — 75.00 carats (est.); pendeloque brilliant; silver cape
12 — 72.84 carats; irregular pear shape; champagne
13 — 65.65 carats; rectangular (old) brilliant, cape
14 — 60.00 carats (est.); cushion brilliant; yellow
15 — 57.85 carats; round brilliant; silver cape
16 — 57.15 carats; cushion brilliant; silver cape
17 — 56.19 carats; cushion brilliant; silver cape
18 — 66.57 carats; cushion brilliant; silver cape
19 — 54.58 carats; irregular oval Mogul cut; colorless
20 — 54.35 carats; high (old) cushion brilliant; peach
21 — 53.50 carats; high (old) cushion brilliant; silver cape
22 — 51.90 carats; elliptical Mogul cut; colorless
23 — 38.18 carats; multi-faceted trapezoid cut; colorless.

None of the diamonds are a saturated yellow color, but rather a light yellow. If they were graded by GIA they would probably fall in the L-M-N range of the color scale. However, due to their immense size, their yellow color is more noticeable than if they were smaller stones.

The Jubilee

This glorious colorless, cushion-shaped diamond with a weight of 245.35 carats ranks as the sixth largest diamond in the world. The original rough stone, an irregular octahedron without definite faces or shape weighed 650.80 (metric) carats; it was found in the Jagersfontein Mine towards the end of 1895. A consortium of London diamond merchants comprising the firms of Wernher, Beit & Co., Barnato Bros. and Mosenthal Sons & Co. acquired the Jubilee together with the Excelsior. At first the stone was named the Reitz in honor of Francis William Reitz, then president of the Orange Free State in which Jagersfontein is located.

In 1896 the consortium sent the diamond to Amsterdam where it was polished by M.B. Barends, under the supervision of Messieurs Metz. First, a piece weighing 40 carats or so was cleaved; this yielded a fine clean pear shape of 13.34 carats which was bought by Dom Carlos I of Portugal as a present for his wife. The present whereabouts of this gem are unknown. The remaining large piece was then polished into the Jubilee. When during the cutting it became evident that a superb diamond of exceptional purity and size was being produced, it was planned to present it to Queen Victoria. In the end this did not happen and the diamond remained with its owners. The following year marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria (the 75th anniversary of her coronation) so the gem was renamed the Jubilee to commemorate the occasion. In the world of diamonds the event was also marked by the introduction of of the Jubilee cut; this has the characteristics of both the brilliant and rose cuts in that the table is replaced by eight facets, meeting in the center, the total number of facets being increased to 88. This cut was short-lived and is not often encountered today.

In 1900 the consortium displayed the Jubilee at the Paris Exhibition where it was one of the centers of attention. At the time it was valued at 7,000,000 francs. Shortly afterwards Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata bought the diamond. He was the Indian philanthropist and industrialist who laid the foundation of his country's steel and iron industry; these and cotton mills created by his father formed the cornerstone of modern India's economic development.

Sir Dorabji Jamsetji Tata died in 1932. In 1935 his heirs sent the Jubilee for sale at Cartier, who in December of that year mounted it in a display of historic diamonds. For a buyer the firm first looked to the Gaekwar of Baroda who in 1928 had appointed Cartier as his sole advisors on purchases of precious stones. Their representatives were prepared to sell the Jubilee for the price of £75,000. Having sought authorization from the treasury department in Baroda for the purchase, and despite encouragement from its officials, the Gaekwar opted not to buy the diamond. So in 1937 Cartier sold the Jubilee instead to M. Paul-Louis Weiller, the Paris industrialist and patron of the arts. The diamond's former setting was changed into a brooch with a number of diamond baguettes, resembling either a six-pointed star or a stylized turtle.

Mr. Weiller was always generous about loaning the Jubilee to exhibitions including one staged at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington in 1960 and another held in Geneva in December of the same year. In 1966 the Jubilee returned to South Africa where it was featured in the De Beers Diamond Pavilion in Johannesburg.

Mr. Robert Mouawad has since bought the Jubilee which is now the largest gem in his great collection. It has been graded as E-color, one grade away from completely colorless, and VVS2 clarity. He is quoted as saying: "If we refer to the human contribution brought to a diamond, my favorite would be the Jubilee for its outstanding cut for the period." Source: Famous Diamonds by Ian Balfour, and the Mouawad website, which is where I found the stone's color and clarity grade

The Kimberly

A Flawless, 70-carat, step cut, champagne-colored diamond that was found in the Kimberly Mine, South Africa. It was recut into this modern shape in in 1921 from a large, flat stone that was once in the Russian Crown Jewels. In 1958, the stone was again recut by it's owners, Baumgold Bros., New York City, to improve the proportions and increase brilliancy. It now weighs 55.09 carats and is valued by the firm at $500,000, but is probably worth considerably more. Baumgold Bros. sold the stone in 1971 to an undisclosed collector. Source: DIAMONDS: Famous, Notable and Unique (GIA).

The Koh-I-Noor

It has been said that whoever owned the Koh-I-Noor ruled the world, a suitable statement for this, the most famous of all diamonds and a veritable household name in many parts of the world. Legend has suggested that the stone may date from before the time of Christ; theory indicates the possibility of its appearance in the early years of the 1300s; history proves its existence for the past two and a half centuries. The first writer has stated:

"Regarding its traditional history, which extends 5000 years further back, nothing need be said here; though it has afforded sundry imaginative writers with a subject for highly characteristic paragraphs we have no record of its having been at any time a cut stone."

The earliest authentic reference to a diamond which may have been the Koh-I-Noor is found in the Baburnama , the memoirs of Babur, the first Mogul ruler of India. Born in 1483, Babur (meaning 'lion' -- the name was not given to him at birth but appears to be a nickname, deriving from an Arabic or Persian word meaning 'lion' or 'tiger') was descended in the fifth generation from Tamerlane on the male side and in the fifteenth degree from Genghis Khan on the female side. With the blood in his veins of two of the greatest conquerors Asia has ever seen, it is not all that surprising that Babur himself should have become a great conqueror in his own right.

The Krupp

The Krupp last sold at Sotheby's on May 16th, 1968, for $305,000, to Elizabeth Taylor. The stone weighs 33.19 carats and is mounted in a ring. She wears it nearly every day and in every film since acquiring it; it was even animated into her special guest appearance on The Simpsons . Taylor is seen polishing her Academy Awards, we see her eye reflect, blinking, on the stone's facets.

The La Favorite

The La Favorite, a 50.15-carat D-color, VVS-2 clarity, with the potential for being flawless if it were to be slightly recut. It is set in a ring by Bulgari. The La Favorite was mined in South Africa and made its debut at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, when it was owned by a Persian and valued at $1 million. The diamond was a sensation during the Depression; people waited in lines to see the rock. In the 1960's, it was sold to a Frenchman. The piece was purchased by Laurence Graff for $3,636,000 in April, 2001, at Christies Auction House, New York.

The Millennium Star

De Beers and the Steinmetz Group has unveiled the world's rarest and arguably the most valuable set of diamonds ever put together to mark the year 2000. Stressing that 'millennia come and go, but diamonds are forever,' the diamond giant's Chairman Nicky Oppenheimer presented the De Beers Millennium Star, a D-color, internally and externally flawless pear-shape, cut to perfect proportions, weighing a hefty 203.04 carats. It is the second largest faceted D-Flawless diamond in the world, the 273.15 carat Centenary Diamond is the first.

The Millennium Star is the centerpiece of the company's Limited Edition Millennium Diamonds collection which further consists of 11 highly unusual blue diamonds cut into a variety of shapes, having a total weight of 118 carats. The diamonds were presented to the world with great theater during an impressive ceremony at the top floor of the CSO's Charterhouse Street complex in London: the Millennium Star was lovingly caressed by the latest James Bond girl, French actress Sophie Marceau, under the approving eyes of De Beers top executives and principals of the worldwide Steinmetz Group of Companies - the craftsmen that designed, planned, and manufactured these exceptional and unique stones.

The team of cutters, who labored in polishing the collection for some three years around the clock, was headed by Israeli-born Nir Livnat, managing director of Johannesburg-based Ascot Diamonds, a member of the Steinmetz Group of Diamond Companies. The Steinmetz Group is known as 'the master' in the field of diamonds and is one the leading customers of De Beers. The Steinmetz Group has several sources of independent mines which supply the rough diamonds. Whenever a large sale, auction or event appears in the diamond business, you can be sure that the Stieinmetz Group is part of it. The Steinmetz Group supports Diamond.com as the Jeweler of the Millennium Diamonds.

The Mouawad Lilac

This is a 24.44-carat emerald cut owned by Robert Mouawad. It's current estimated value is over $20,000,000. (Twenty Million Dollars.) The exact color grade and clarity has not been published, but it due to its name and the photo, it is safe to say the stone has a higher color saturation than the Mouawad Pink Diamond.

The Mouawad Magic

Lebanese diamond dealer Robert Mouawad first appeared on the diamond scene in the 1970s. Soon his very presence in the sale or auction room was enough to send pulses racing when it was realized that a new, significiant player had appeared. Along with his two contemporaries, Sheikh Ahmed Fitaihi of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Laurence Graff of London, he has been responsible for stone of the most astonishing record diamond prices achieved in recent years.

The Mouawad family business dates from 1890 when Daoud Mouawad, Robert's grandfather, established a small jewelry workshop in Beirut, Lebanon, after learning the craft in New York and Mexico. Later, Doaud's son, Fayez, broadened the scope of the business by moving to Saudi Arabia in 1950. The timing proved to be excellent and it enabled the family to capitalize on the country's growing wealth and to benefit from the increasing oil revenues in the Persian Gulf. Once Fayez handed the reins of the business over to his son, Robert Mouawad was to expand to Europe, development North American and Far Eastern connections, and to transform his family's jewelry business into the global empire it has become today.

Not all of Mr. Mouawad's diamond acquisitions have been made at auctions. In March of 1991, in Antwerp, he purchased a 284.6-carat rough diamond that had been found in the Aredor Mine in Guinea, Africa. Through his own company's office in Belgium, it was faceted into the largest diamond in his collection bearing his name: a magnificent emerald cut later named the Mouawad Magic, with a weight of 108.81 carats. It measures 32.91 by 20.73 by 16.83 mm. The D-color, Internally Flawless gem is considered a collection item and as a result is "not for sale" at this present time.

The Mouawad Pink

A radiant cut pink diamond of 21.06 carats owned by Robert Mouawad. It has an estimated value of over $12,000,000. Its exact color grade is unpublished, but it has a clarity of VS1.

The Mouna

The Mouna Diamond weighs 112.53 carats and is VS1 clarity. When it was submitted to the Gemological Institute of America on November 9th, 1995, they stated that up until this date it was the largest Fancy Intense Yellow diamond that they had ever graded. The cushion-shaped stone is 26 mm in diameter set in a baguette-cut mount by Bulgari, which with it the diamond has a height of 36 mm. It was sold by Christie's in Geneva on November 16th, 1998, lot 161, and fetched $3,258,000 (about $28,773 per carat).

Michael Hing, a gemologist in Great Britain, told me about this stone. I think I had already heard a murmur about it here and there, but just the name, not a description or photo. Mr. Hing personally handled the stone at an exhibition in Paris around 2000. Here is what he had to say about it:

"The Mouna was the largest Fancy Intense Yellow diamond at one time: I'm not sure if it still is, the GIA certificate was issued a few years ago. It was owned by Mouna Ayoub. Her former husband must be a man of some considerable wealth: apparently she once told him that she enjoyed jogging, and the next day a team of workmen began building her a running track around the perimeter of their estate in Saudi Arabia. The gem was part of her divorce settlement - along with a rather impressive collection of other items. It was sold at auction (Christie's), I believe in 1996. It's a lovely stone. Very, very well-cut indeed. We put it next to the Tiffany: not only is it a few carats bigger looking, the color was also noticeably better. It was set in a Bulgari pendant: extremely good-quality jewelry work.

The Moussaieff Red

The William Goldberg Diamond Corporation, famous for outstanding stones like the Premier Rose and the Guinea Star, cut this gem from a 13.90-carat rough. They transformed the piece into a spectacular red diamond weighing 5.11 carats. The GIA states, "It is the largest Fancy Red, natural color diamond that we have graded as of the date the report was issued." The stone is a triangular brilliant, sometimes referred to as a trillion or a trilliant cut. It was cut sometime in the mid-1990s, so its history is still relatively uneventful. Sometime around 2001 or 2002 the stone was purchased by Moussaieff Jewelers Ltd. The firm, while it has no website as of yet, is renowned for multi-million dollar pieces of jewelry and has locations in the United States as well as abroad.

The Niarchos

Unlike the proverbial cat, one may expect the Premier Mine to enjoy only four lives. The first lasted from the discovery of the diamond pipe just before 1902 - and the formation of the Premier (Transvaal) Diamond Mining Company - until the outbreak of World War I when the mine was shut down and operated on a caretaker basis. By January of 1916 it was working again and production continued up to 1932 when mining operations ceased due to the depressed state of the diamond industry.

Working resumed in 1945, but its fourth life really began in 1979 with the opening up of the mine below the 'Gabbro' sill, a 70-meter geologic intrusion of barren rock which cuts right through the pipe some 400 meters below the surface. Production from this new source has not only given the mine its longest life, but one that should enable production to continue for another fifteen years.

In the early years of its existence, the Premier Mine produced many large diamonds, including, of course the Cullinan in 1905, and since working was restarted in 1945 the mine has continued to yield some exceptional stones. One of the most exciting moments early on the morning of Sunday, May 22nd, 1954, when a diamond measuring just under 51 mm long, just over 25 mm wide and 19 mm thick unexpectedly appeared on the grease tables at the recovery plant. It was immediately apparent to the officials present that this was an exceptional find.

The diamond weighed 426.5 carats, was internally flawless, but was slightly chipped, probably due to contact with the mine's underground crusher. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer considered that it possessed the most perfect color of any diamond he had seen, an opinion shared by others who were fortunate enough to view it.

In due course the unnamed diamond was shipped to London and in February of 1956 it was announced by the Diamond Trading Company that a sale of rough diamonds totaling £3,000,000 had been made to the firm of Harry Winston Inc. of New York. At the time this transaction represented the largest single sale ever made to one of its clients.

The Nur-Ul-Ain

The centerpiece of this tiara is the Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond, one of the largest pink diamonds in the world. The diamond is thought to have been brought from India, along with the Darya-I-Nur Diamond. The diamond is set in platinum, and is surrounded by diamonds in shades of pink, yellow, and colorless, with a row of colorless baguette diamonds in tapering sizes lining the base of the tiara. The Nur-Ul-Ain is an oval brilliant cut of around 60 carats and measures approximately 30 × 26 × 11 mm. The other diamonds range from 14 to 19 carats each. The tiara contains 324 diamonds total.

The tiara was designed by Harry Winston for the occasion of the Empress Farah's wedding to the the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, in 1958.

The Orlov

Legend, fact, supposition and theory each must be accorded its place in any historical account of this celebrated diamond. Nowadays the Orlov is one of the most important items in one of the greatest collections of gems and jewelry, the Treasures of the Diamond Fund, Gokran, comprises of many historical jewels that were amassed by the rulers of Russia before the 1917 Revolution, as well as some of the exceptional diamonds unearthed during the past three decades that testify to Russia's current position as a leading world diamond producer.

The Orlov is mounted in the Imperial Scepter, made during the reign of Catherine the Great (1762-96). Its weight has been recorded as 189.62 metric carats and it measures 47.6 mm in height, 31.75 mm in width, and 34.92 mm in length. The clarity is typical of the finest Indian diamonds and its color possesses a slight bluish-green tint. The shape of the diamond has been described as resembling 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 diamond there exists a slight indentation.

The unusual shape of the Orlov, the pattern of its facets and the presence of this blemish intriguingly suggest that this diamond can be identified with a long-lost legendary stone.

Among the first Europeans who were permitted to examine the gems of the Mogul rulers of India was Jean Baptiste Tavernier, who provided illustrations of several stones he had seen in his work Six Voyages of Jean Baptiste Tavernier .

Tavernier's drawing of the diamond which has come to be known as the Great Mogul is of particular interest and importance, because it is the only one of this legendary stone known to have survived. According to all the available accounts of its history the Great Mogul was found about the middle of the 17th century in the Kollur diamond deposits situated by the Kristna (or Krishna) River in Hyderabad, and weighed no less than 787½ carats. In due course it found its way into the Mogul treasury and was shown to Tavernier by Aurangzeb (1658-1707), the third son of Shah Jahan, who had successfully fought off the challenge of his three brothers and usurped his father's throne. The cutting of the Great Mogul was entrusted to an Italian, Hortensio Borgio, who reduced the weight of the stone to 279 and 9/16 carats. The results of the efforts of the cutter, however, so displeased Aurangzeb that instead if rewarding him for his services, he fined him 10,000 rupees and would have extracted more had the wretched man possessed it. Tavernier makes several references to the Great Mogul, which are included under that entry.

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The Paragon

This very unusual 7-sided diamond is known as the Paragon, and weighs 137.82 carats. The Graff Diamond Co. of London cut the gem, and is its current owner. The necklace has a diamond carat weight of 190.27 carats, and separates to both necklace and bracelet lengths. The piece features Fancy Intense blue, yellow and pink diamonds along with the Paragon Diamond, a 137.82-carat D-color Flawless diamond, evolved unmistakably into Graff's creation for the Millennium.

The Peacock

With the purchase of this unusual, 20.65-carat Fancy Intense Yellow, IF clarity (internally flawless) diamond by C.D.Peacock, Chicago's premier jewelry store plans to try to change the way people in America think about fancy colored diamonds -- many people still don't even know there is such a thing as a fancy colored diamond.

According to Ray Perlman, a consultant to C.D. Peacock and former Chairman of the Board of the New York Diamond Dealers Club, most people have no idea that diamonds occur in a color other than colorless (white). Yet, notes Perlman, when asked to identify the world's most famous diamonds, most people will name the Hope Diamond which is Fancy Dark grayish-blue, and the Tiffany Yellow which is golden yellow. It is also true that some fancy colored diamonds have been valued higher than colorless diamonds of the same size. Take for instance the 0.95-carat fancy red round brilliant that set the world record, price-per-carat for diamonds. It went for $880,000 at Christies NYC. That comes to about $926,000 per carat. But then again, red and purple diamonds are the two rarest colors. The stone is now called the Hancock Red.

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has graded the Peacock Diamond as Fancy Intense Yellow, a designation limited to a very small percentage of the yellow diamonds. The natural, internally flawless stone is radiant cut, which is similar to princess cut, but rectangular with cut corners, and slightly more sparkle. The stone measures 15.62 × 14.49 × 9.37 mm, and weighs 20.65 carats. This unique diamond is flanked on each side by modified triangular-cut diamonds mounted in platinum and 18K gold.

The Pink Orchid

This purplish-pink marquise cut diamond weighs 22.84 carats and is known as the Pink Orchid. Graff Diamonds of London owns the stone. I wish they would go into more detail on their site about their unusual gems, if they did, I would post it here. Pink diamonds, especially ones of this size, are extremely rare. This diamond is most likely a naturally colored one, as well. Robert Mouawad, a collector of large and unusual diamonds has a 21.06-carat pink diamond known as the Mouawad Pink, which he values at $12 million, and a purplish-pink diamond weighing 24.44 carats called the Mouawad Lilac, valued at $20 million. So you can imagine the Pink Orchid would be at least $12 million.

The Pink Sun Rise

Famed diamond cutter Gabi Tolkowsky pays homage to his 273.85-carat Centenary with the Pink Sun Rise, a 29.78-carat diamond with a design similar to the Centenary's. The diamond is a rare, flawless pink and was cut by Tolkowsky and his team of master craftsmen. Tolkowsky is also famed for cutting the largest diamond in the world, the Golden Jubilee

The Porter Rhodes

Considered to be the finest American diamond found up to that time (1880), the 153.50-carat rough this stone was cut from came from the claim of Mr. Porter-Rhodes in the Kimberly Mine. It was valued at $200,000. In 1881, Mr. Porter Rhodes visited the Osborne House in London and showed it to Queen Victoria, who exclaimed over its great purity and beauty.

The diamond was faceted into a 73-carat Old Mine cut, but eventually was sold to the London jewelry firm of Jerwood & Ward, who had it recut in Amsterdam down to a 56.60-carat Asscher cut. It was sold to the Maharaja of Indore, a man of great wealth who abdicated in 1926 in favor of his son after a scandal had erupted over his fancy for a certain dancing girl. In 1930 the second Duke of Westminster bought the gem, the first of a long line of collectors. It later came into the possession of an influential American family who treasured the diamond for three decades before selling the diamond to Lawrence Graff in 1987. Graff repolished the Porter Rhodes into the 54.04-carat gem which you see here. The gem has been graded as being D-color.

The Portuguese Diamond

This stone was difficult to find information on. There's really only been a couple major owners of the Portuguese. This is what the Smithsonian Institute had to say about it, and they had more information than any other source I found. The stone resides in the Smithsonian Institute on permanent display, Washington DC.

The Portuguese Diamond at 127.01 carats is the largest faceted diamond in the Nation Gem Collection. It's near flawless clarity and unusual octagonal emerald cut make it one of the world's most magnificent diamond gems. It is perhaps more than a little surprising, then, that so little documented information exists about it's origin and early history. The lack of an authoritative provenance, however, has given rise to considerable conjecture and legend. The diamond owes its current name to one such legend, according to which the diamond was found in Brazil in the eighteenth century and became part of the Portuguese Crown Jewels. There is no documentation, however, that substantiates a Brazilian origin or connection to Portuguese royalty, nor is it clear where or from whom this story originated. As it is discussed below, the diamond most likely was found at the Premier Mine in Kimberly, South Africa, early in the 20th century.

The Red Cross Diamond

This canary yellow cushion-shaped diamond weighs 205.07 (metric) carats. It is said to have weighed 375 carats in the rough and to have come from one of the Kimberly mines in 1901. The largest rough found that year weighed only 307 carats, but two more weighing 337½ and 363 carats, had been discovered at the De Beers Mine in 1899. Whichever may be correct - the date of the discovery or the rough weight - there is no doubting that the Red Cross Diamond is a typical South African stone.

The original group of dealing firms who bought the output of the De Beers presented the diamond as a gift to the art sale held in London by Christies in 1918, on behalf of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John. The gem had been cut in Amsterdam, The Times wrote:

"Large and square-shaped, it has been cut with many facets and is of that pale canary yellow color which is so sought after by Indian Princes. The play of the stone is very vivid. In artificial light it is much more luminous than a white stone. After exposure to brilliant light it emits the rays it has absorbed, and thus becomes self-luminous in the dark. Another rare feature is that a Maltese Cross is distinctly visible in the top facet. Hence the double appropriateness of its name, the Red Cross Diamond."

The Red Cross brought £35,575 and was the highlight of the third day of the sale. The total proceeds were £52,238.

The Regent Diamond

The adventurous history of the Regent is very much like that of several other great diamonds. Greed, murder and remorse play a part in the opening chapter. Trouble - political, social, and personal - accompanies this gem to it's last resting place. Originally known as the Pitt, this 410-carat stone was one of the last large diamonds to be found in India. It is said to have been discovered by a slave in the Parteal Mines (also spelled 'Partial') on the Kistna River about 1701. The slave stole the enormous rough concealing it in bandages of a self-inflicted leg wound, and fled to the seacoast. There, he divulged his secret to an English sea captain, offering him half the value of the stone in return for safe passage to a free country. But during the voyage to Bombay, temptation overcame this seafaring man and he murdered the slave took the diamond. After selling it to an Indian diamond merchant named Jamchund for about $5000, the captain squandered the proceeds in dissipation and, in a fit of remorse and delirium tremens, hanged himself.

In 1702, Jamchund sold the stone for about $100,000 to Governor Thomas Pitt of Ft. George, Madras, who was the grandfather of William Pitt of American Revolutionary fame. Known to historians as the "Elder Pitt," William was the British Prime Minister for whom Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was named. He sent it to England and had it fashioned into a 140.50 carat cushion-shaped brilliant cut, measuring approximately 32mm × 34mm × 25mm. The cutting took two years and cost about $25,000, but a number of smaller stones brought more than $35,000; some of these were rose-cut stones that were sold to Peter the Great of Russia. The principal gem, which has but one very small imperfection, is today considered one of the finest and most brilliant of the known large diamonds.

The Royal Purple Heart

This is a diamond I am still in the process of researching. The article I found with the stone reads "The Royal Purple Heart Diamond is the largest fancy vivid purple diamond known to exist, weighing 7.34 carats. This unique stone has been expertly cut and polished into a perfect heart shape to allow the striking natural purple color to dazzle to maximum effect. Natural purple diamonds are among the rarest and most highly sought after color in which diamonds occur. Large pure purple diamonds (i.e. stones over 5 carats) are especially prized. The Royal Purple Heart Diamond was cut by and is a joint venture with the Julius Klein Diamond Corporation." The gem has a clarity of I1.

The Russian Crown Jewels

The Great Imperial Crown was made by a skilled court jeweler Jeremia Posier for the Empress Catherine II the Great's Coronation in 1762. It has a traditional shape and is made up of the two open hemispheres divided by a foliate garland and fastened with a low hoop. The crown is set with 5,000 selected Indian diamonds (some Russian sources state this number as 4,836) and and number fine, large white pearls. The crown is also decorated with one of the seven historic stones of the Russia's Diamond Collection - a large precious red spinal weighing 398.72 carats which was brought to Russia by Nicholas Spafary, the Russian envoy to China from 1675 to 1678.

The Shah is an 88.70-carat, bar-shaped, partially polished diamond bearing three engraved markings. It was probably found in Golconda, India. The first engraving reads "Bourhan-Nizam-Shah-II, 1000" (Mohammedan calendar), which places the stone in the hands of the ruler of the Indian province of Achmednager in 1591.

The next one reads, "Son of Jehangir Shah-Jehan Shah, 1051." This refers to Shah Jehan, who completed the bejeweled Peacock Throne and built the Taj Mahal (meaning "Elect of the Palace") for his beloved Queen, Mumtaz Mahal; the date corresponds to 1641.

He and Mumtaz had a beautiful romance. They met while the Emperor was still young Prince Khurrum. Mumtaz was the daughter of a high-ranking palace official and was of Persian extraction. She had white skin and curling black hair that fell on her shoulders. Persian miniatures show her wearing a flaring crown like headdress, thickly jeweled, and earrings that fell to her shoulders. She was married to the Prince in 1615 and shared all his campaigns throughout India, meanwhile bearing fourteen children.

The Shah's shape, similar to a quartz crystal, is one of the most unusual in the world of famous diamonds.

Jehan ascended the throne in 1627 and was proclaimed Shah of Agra, near Delhi, the following year. The coronation festivities are said to have cost more than seven million dollars. The Shah was weighed and a like amount of gold, silver and gems distributed to the people. But poor Mumtaz lived only a short time after. She died in 1631 in the Deccan, the region of Golconda, while on another expedition with her husband. Jehan then made the construction of the edifice, requiring fourteen years, a major effort of his life.

The Shah is believed to be the stone that Tavernier, the French jeweler and traveler, saw dangling before the throne at the Court of Aurungzeb, Jehan's son, in 1665. (Before the completion of Shah Jehan's reign, Aurungzeb rose against his father, imprisoned him and usurped his throne.) How the gem was later carried to Persia is not definitely known; it is possible, however, that Nadir Shah, the Persian conqueror of India, took it in 1739 when he seized the Great Mogul's treasures during the sack of Delhi.

It was during this time that the great diamond was in the possession of the Persian rulers that the third inscription, "Kadjar Fath Ali Shah," who was the Shah of Persia in 1824, was engraved on it. A tiny furrow was also cut on the diamond, possibly to take the cord on which it was suspended.

In 1829, the Shah was given to Czar Nicholas I of Russia by the Persian Government in appeasement for the assassination of the Russian Ambassador, Alexander Griboyedoff, in Teheren; thus, it became part of the Crown Jewels of that country.

In 1914, when World War I broke out, the diamond was sent to St. Petersburg to Moscow for safekeeping. After the Revolution, when the strong boxes were opened in 1922 by the new regime, the Shah was among the treasures. It is now one of the prize possessions in the Russian Treasury of Diamonds & Precious Stones in the Kremlin.

The Imperial Orb was made of the so called "red gold" for the Empress Catherine II the Great's Coronation in 1762. It is a polished hollow ball with with a cross and is encircled with the two rows of the large diamonds, and the sapphire on the top weighs about 47 carats.

The Sancy

The Sancy Diamond has one of the most interesting, colorful, confused and involved histories of all the famous diamonds in Europe. It is a pale yellow 55.23-carat shield-shaped stone, apparently of Indian origin, and is said to be one of the first large diamonds to be cut with symmetrical facets. The stone is also unusual because it has no pavilion - just a pair of crowns, one on the other.

In 1570, the stone was purchased in Constantinople by the French Ambassador to Turkey, Nicholas Harlai, the Seigneur de Sancy, who was an avid collector of gems and jewelry. This passion for personal adornment was more in evidence during the 1500's and 1600's in Europe than any other time and any other place, except in the East. He brought it to France, where Henry III, who was very sensitive about being bald, borrowed it to decorate a small cap he always wore to conceal his baldness. Sancy was a promenade figure in the French Court at the time. Henry was the vicious, vain, weak son of Catherine de Medici.

During the next reign, when Sancy was made Superintendent of Finance, Henry IV borrowed the gem as security for substantial loan to hire soldiers. A messenger was dispatched with the jewel but never reached his destination; thieves had followed him. Knowing that the man was loyal, Sancy made a search of him and his body was discovered, disinterred, and in the stomach of the servant the diamond was found!

The Sarah Diamond

Many incredibly valuable and historical diamonds have been discovered in South Africa, where Graff has the largest facilities for polishing gem quality diamonds. A magnificent rough diamond weighing 218 carats was acquired from local South African diggings.

Its beauty even in the raw state was astonishing. The light glowed warmly from within its octahedral shape, reflecting softly off the crystal facets, hinting at the fire and brilliance hidden within its unexplored depths. Nature had provided the raw material, man's skill and expertise transformed and burnished this noble treasure from the earth into its final glorious splendor.

Its metamorphosis from a rough crystal to a gem of magnificent grandeur is also a story of people who recognized the alchemy of this living organic crystal and captured its magic in a jewel of timeless beauty.

The rarity and value of this rough diamond required the most experienced and skillful craftsmen whose intuitive feeling for the stone created the magical synergy allowing them to discover the secrets within.

The Shah Jahan Table Cut

This table-cut or flat diamond, measuring 44.6 by 33 by 3.6 mm and weighing 56.71 carats, is one of several that have been credited as a match for the Great Table Diamond viewed by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier at Golconda in 1642. However, the attribution is probably an error, the Darya-i-Nur and Nur-Ul-Ain table cuts in the Iranian Crown Jewels are much more likely matches. Nevertheless, the Shah Jahan Table Cut strongly resembles the diamond of octagonal outline in a turban ornament in a portrait of Shah Jahan, and the stone correlates reasonably well with a description by Tavernier of a table cut weighing 60 ratis (about 54 carats) shown to him by Aurangzeb, Shah Jahan's son, in 1665. Like other Mogul treasures, the table cut appears to have departed India with the Persian invasion in the mid-eighteenth century, after which it may have found its way into the Russian Treasury. The Shah Jahan was offered at auction by Christies in Geneva in 1985 but was not sold. The diamond exhibits a feature common in gems shaped for Mogul use, a pair of drilled holes by which a stone could be sewn to a turban or garment to impart both pomp and courtly fashion.

The Shepard Diamond

The 18.30-carat Shepard Diamond is from South Africa, it was acquired by the Smithsonian Museum by exchange for a collection of small diamonds that had been seized as smuggled goods by the United States Customs Service and is named for the Smithsonian employee who helped facilitate the transaction.

The Shepard Diamond among other diamonds in the Smithsonian's collection. The round yellow diamond in the back weighs about 12 carats. The blue heart-shaped stone is the Blue Heart weighing 30.82 carats. The round brilliant white diamond is the Pearson Diamond, weighing 16.72 carats. The pink pear shape, named the De Young Pink, weighs 2.86 carats, and the two uncut green diamonds weigh 2.05 and 0.97 carats.

The Spirit of de Grisogono

The Spirit of de Grisogono at 312.24 carats is the world's largest cut black diamond, and the world's 5th largest diamond, period. In a white gold mounting, it is set with 702 white diamonds totaling 36.69 carats.

There are not many black stones in the world of famous diamonds, mainly the Black Orlov and the Amsterdam which weigh 67 and 33 carats, respectively. (A 205-carat black diamond called the 'Black Star of Africa' is rumored to exist, being sold to a buyer in Asia during the 1980's, but this has never been substantiated.) The man behind this fascination is famous Swiss jeweler de Grisogono. He was the first major jeweler to create eye-catching collections of black diamond jewelry and watches. He is also responsible for cutting the Gruosi Diamond, the largest heart-shaped black diamond in the world. Today for the first time ever he is presenting the world's largest cut black diamond, the 312.24-carat Spirit of de Grisogono.

This diamond originally had a rough weight of 587 carats and was mined several decades ago in west Central Africa before being imported into Switzerland. It was then cut using the Mogul diamond cutting technique. This historic cutting method was developed centuries ago in India and can be seen in a number of historic diamonds, such as the Orlov Diamond in the Russian Diamond Treasury in Moscow, and several diamonds in the Crown Jewels of Iran, among them the Taj-I-Mah Diamond. The Great Mogul, a 279-carat diamond, is another famous Mogul cut diamond, but sadly, its whereabouts are unknown. The more modern rose cut is a variation on the old Mogul cut. The entire process from studying the cut design to executing it on the de Grisogono rough involved more than a year's work.

The Spirit of de Grisogono is described in the report of the Gubelin Gem Lab as a rare specimen for this type of diamond in view of its great size. It is the largest natural black diamond which the GGL laboratory has ever tested.

The Spoonmaker's Diamond

The pride of the Topkapi Palace Museum and its most valuable single exhibit is the 86-carat pear-shaped Spoonmaker Diamond, also known as the Kasicki. Surrounded by a double-row of 49 round-cut diamonds and well spotlighted, it hangs in a glass case on the wall of one of the rooms of the Treasury.

Its origin is not clear. Like many other historic diamonds, it is difficult to separate fact from fancy. Rasid, the official historian of the Ottoman court, describes it as thus:

"In the year 1669, a very poor man found a pretty stone in the rubbish heap of Egrikapi in Istanbul. He bartered it to a spoonmaker for three wooden spoons. The spoonmaker sold the stone to a jeweler for ten silver coins.

The Star of America

The Star of America is the largest Asscher cut "D"-color flawless diamond in the world. It was discovered near the Orange River, originally a rough stone of 225 carats. After nine months of cutting and polishing by the Graff company's craftsmen, into the 100.57-carat stone you see here, to commemorate the launch of GRAFF USA.

The Star of South Africa

The Star of South Africa, a 47.69-carat old style pear-shaped diamond, was cut from a crystal of 83.50 carats, and is credited with being the diamond that turned the tides of fortune in South Africa. In 1869, it was picked up by a Griqua shepherd boy on the Zandfontein Farm near the Orange River. Schalk van Niekerk, who three years earlier had had a stroke of luck with a "pebble" that proved to be a 21.25-carat diamond (the Eureka Diamond ), traded the young native for the stone, giving him five hundred sheep, ten oxen, and a horse. It was practically all of Niekerk's possessions, but a few days later in Hopetown he sold the rough crystal for $56,000.

Later, the stone was purchased by Louis Hond, a diamond cutter, and fashioned to what was described as an "oval, three-sided brilliant" and was sold to the Earl of Dudley for $125,000 (or about £25,000). The Countess Dudley wore it as a hair ornament, surrounded by 95 smaller diamonds. The current location of the stone is unknown, but this being a color photo, it is safe to say the stone is still in circulation.

The Star of the East

After their marriage in 1908, Edward B. McLean and his bride Evalyn traveled to Europe for their honeymoon. Each had received $100,000 from their respective fathers as a wedding present. Among the countries they visited was Turkey where Evalyn McLean expressed a wish to see the treasures of the jewelry-loving Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abd al-Hamid II. When the American ambassador heard of her wish he told her: "He may tap you for his harem," to which she replied: "The way they tap a boy for some society at Yale? Is that the way he gets them?"

When the couple reached Paris Mrs. McLean was able to buy the wedding present which her father had told her to get. Pierre Cartier showed her the Star of the East, a fine 94.80-carat pear-shaped diamond, mounted on a chain below a hexagonal emerald of 34 carats and a pearl of 32 grains, which may have belonged to the Sultan Abd al-Hamid. "Ned," she said to her husband, "its got me. I'll never get away from the spell of this." Her husband - who was unimpressed by jewels - replied "A shock may break the spell. Suppose you ask the price of this magnificence." But Evalyn refused to listen to him and purchased the Star of the East for $120,000, in the process using up some of his wedding gift money. Mrs. McLean pointed out the diamond's merits as an investment and that she could tell her own father that it represented a double gift to cover both her wedding and Christmas presents.

The Star of the East remained in Evalyn Walsh McLean's ownership for 40 years or so. On one occasion she was photographed wearing the diamond as an aigrette with what appeared to be a feather from some exotic bird in a diamond bandeau. The Hope lay somewhat lower lower as a pendant to a pearl necklace. After her death, Harry Winston bought both diamonds and in 1951 he sold the Star of the East and a fancy colored oval cut diamond to King Farouk of Egypt. By the time of the King's overthrow in 1952, Mr. Winston had still not received payment for the two gems, but three years later an Egyptian government legal board entrusted with the disposal of the former royal assets, ruled in his favor. Nevertheless, several years of litigation were needed before he was able to reclaim the Star of the East from a safe-deposit box in Switzerland.

In 1969 Harry Winston sold the Star of the East, the new owner asking him to remount the gem as a pendant to a V-shaped diamond necklace to which two flawless matching pear shapes could be attached. The Star of the East was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1978, at a reception marking the 50th anniversary of Harry Winston Inc. Six years later the diamond came back into the ownership of Harry Winston Inc. Its present whereabouts are unknown.

The Star of the Season

In recent years Sheikh Ahmed Hassan Fitaihi has been a major force at international jewelry auctions. The Sheikh's family business dates from 1907 when he grandfather opened a jewelry shop in Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. At that time, Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (known in the West as Ibn Saud) was battling to reconquer and reunite the numerous different tribes of the Arabian peninsula. The family of Al-Saud had in fact reigned over a large part of Arabia in the early 19th century but later lost much of its territory to Turkey. Eventually in 1927, Abdul Aziz Al-Saud was proclaimed king and the country was named Saudi Arabia in 1932.

During that period, Sheikh Fitaihi's father moved both his family and business to Jeddah where initially he opened a small trading shop. Known affectionately as the 'Red Sea Bride', Jeddah is the main Saudi port and through the centuries has maintained its tradition as a trading city. Ahmed Hassan Fitaihi began working in his father's shop at an early age; before long he was compelled to manage the shop alone. The Sheikh recalls one occasion where he sold almost all his stock. His father returned surprised, if not pained, to see all the windows empty. Then and there his father taught him his first lesson: "Before selling, think of buying." Jeddah has remained the base for Sheikh Fitaihi's activities: the Fitaihi Center was opened in April of 1984 and a new Fitaihi Center was added in 1993 at Riyadh, the capitol of Saudi Arabia.

Applying his father's advice in recent years, Sheikh Fitaihi has bought more than two thousand pieces of jewelry, as well as many large diamonds, at international auctions. These include an 80.02-carat emerald cut fashioned by Harry Winston Inc. from a rough diamond weighing 416 carats that had been recently found in South Africa. The diamond measures 30.86 by 21.53 by 13.51 mm and was graded as being D-color and Internally Flawless by the GIA. Purchased in New York for $7,150,000 in October of 1991 it was named by Sheikh Fitaihi the 'Jeddah Bride' in honor of his beloved city. The first of his important acquisitions, it retains a special place in his affections.

The Star of the South

The 128.48-carat Star of the South is one of the world's most famous diamonds. Discovered in 1853, it became the first Brazilian diamond to receive international acclaim. The stone was graded as VS-2 in clarity and Fancy Light Pinkish-Brown in color. It was also determined to be a type IIa diamond.

It was the custom in the Bagagem Diamond Mines in Brazil for a slave worker who found a stone of mentionable size to be rewarded with his freedom which offered him the opportunity to work for a salary. In addition he might be given clothes, tools and in some cases a procession in his honor and during the ceremony might be crowned with flowers. All depending on the value of the stone found. This was done to encourage honesty among the workers. There were also several punishments established for those who were caught smuggling diamonds out.

In 1853 a slave woman while working in the mine discovered a 261.88-carat diamond. For this she was reward not only her freedom but in addition a life income. Yet apparently not aware of its true value, her master was induced to sell it for the modest sum of £3000, after which the purchaser disposed of it in Rio de Janeiro for $30,000.

The rough stone passed through many hands before it was sold to Costers of Amsterdam for $35,000 and cut to a 128.48-carat stone losing over half its original weight. The cutting cost was $2500. It was cut into a cushion-shaped stone with a faint pinkish-brown hue.

It was purchased by Halphen & Associates of Paris and was given the name the Star of the South. They displayed the stone at the London Exhibition in 1862, and in Paris in 1867 making it quite famous. At this time, the syndicate was offered £110,000 by an unknown Indian rajah, but the offer was declined. Later, for reasons not divulged, it was sold to Mulhar Rao, the Gaekwar of Baroda, for £80,000, or about $400,000.

The Sultan of Morocco

A 35.27-carat cushion cut grayish-blue diamond. Not much is known about it. In 1969, Cartier lent this diamond to the New York State Museum for their World of Gems Exposition. In 1972 it was sold to a private American collector. It is the fourth largest blue diamond in the world after the Hope Diamond. The 35.56-carat Wittelsbach Diamond is one of the others, so is a 42.92-carat blue pear shape known as the Mouawad Blue.

The Taylor-Burton

Richard Burton's first jewelry purchase for Elizabeth Taylor was the 33.19-carat Asscher-cut Krupp Diamond, in 1968. This had formerly been part of the estate of Vera Krupp, second wife of the steel magnate Alfred Krupp. Miss Taylor wears this stone in a ring. She has worn it in a number of her post-1968 films, during her interview on Larry King Live in 2003, and just about everywhere else she goes. Next came the La Peregrina Pearl for which Burton paid £15,000. The stone has a long and complex history. For Elizabeth's 40th birthday in 1972 Richard Burton gave her a heart-shaped diamond known as the Taj-Mahal. The stone is fairly large and flat, with an Arabic inscription on either side. It is set with rubies and diamonds in a yellow gold rope-pattern necklace. "I would have liked to buy her the Taj-Mahal," he remarked, "but it would cost too much to transport. This diamond has so many carats, its almost a turnip." Then he added, "Diamonds are an investment. When people no longer want to see Liz and I on the screen, then we can sell off a few baubles."

By the far the best known of Richard Burton's purchases was the 69.42-carat pear-shape, later to be called the Taylor-Burton Diamond. It was cut from a rough stone weighing 240.80 carats found in the Premier Mine in 1966 and subsequently bought by Harry Winston. Here there is a coincidence: Eight years before, another cleavage of almost identical weight (240.74 carats) had been found in the Premier. Harry Winston bought this stone too, commenting at the time, "I don't think there have been half a dozen stones in the world of this quality." This wouldn't be the first time the Premier Mine would have the last word because the 69.42-carat gem cut from the later discovery is a D-color Flawless stone.

After the rough piece of 240.80 carats arrived in New York, Harry Winston and his cleaver, Pastor Colon Jr. studied it for six months. Markings were made, erased and redrawn to show where the stone could be cleaved. There came the day appointed for the cleaving, and in this instance the usual tension that surrounds such an operation was increased by the heat and glare of the television lights that had been allowed into the workroom. After he had cleaved the stone, the 50-year-old cleaver said nothing -- he reached across the workbench for the piece of diamond that had seperated from it and looked at it through his horn-rimmed glasses for a fraction of a second before exclaiming "Beautiful!" This piece of rough weighed 78 carats was expected to yield a stone of about 24 carats, while the large piece, weighing 162 carats, was destined to produce a pear shape whose weight had originally been expected to be about 75 carats.

The Tiffany Yellow

It is debatable whether Truman Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's did much to increase the prestige of this famous New York jewelry store because long before 1958, the year of the book's publication, it had become a household name within the United States as well as abroad. Doubtless some people continue to inquire whether the store does serve breakfast to its clientele, but of course what the delightfully-named heroine, Holly Go lightly, sought was not refreshment of the stomach but of the spirit, which was supplied by the sight of the magnificent gems on display in the showcase.

Founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837, Tiffany & Co. came to the fore among diamond merchants during the second half of the 1800s. During the political disturbances in Paris in 1848, which cumulated in the over through of King Louis Philippe, the firm bought a large quantity of jewels. At the sale of the French Crown Jewels in 1887, Tiffany's bought a great diamond necklace of Empress Eugénie, considered at the time to have been the finest single item to go on sale, four diamonds which may have been among the former Mazarins, as well as several other pieces. In the end, Tiffany's emerged as the largest buyer, with 24 of the total 69 lots.

Between these two events in French history came the discovery of diamonds in South Africa. Tiffany's were active there too, buying a light-yellow cushion of 77 (old) carats cut from a rough stone weighing fractionally less than 125 (old) carats and another fine yellow gem weighing 51 and 7/8 (old) carats. Both of these two diamonds were among the first large stones to be cut in New York City. They were surpassed, however, by the famous gem named after its owners. In the rough, the stone was a beautiful canary-yellow octahedron weighing 287.42 (metric) carats.

It is believed that the Tiffany Yellow was found in either 1877 or 1878. The lack of exact information concerning the correct date of its discovery extends to its location as well; this has been variously described as the 'De Beers Mine' or the 'Kimberly Mine', 'the De Beers Mines' or 'the Kimberly Mines'. The finding of the Tiffany Yellow took place before accurate records of the discovery of large diamonds from South Africa were kept. However, the clue to its location has been supplied by one writer who has stated it was found in the mines of the French Company. This was the colloquial name for the Compagnie Français de Diamant du Cap, an important mining concern, the existence of which sparked off the most momentous financial struggle which the diamond industry has witnessed.

The Transvaal Blue

A pear cut 25-carat blue diamond that was found in the Premier Diamond Mine in Transvaal, South Africa, the same mine the 3106-carat Cullinan crystal was found in. It was once owned by Baumgold Bros., but it's now owned by an unknown foreign buyer.

The Vainer Briolette

When considering which diamond cuttings centers are the most important, odds are London won't spring to mind as one of them. The city's main role in the diamond trade has been as the major point of distribution of rough diamonds. The London Diamond Syndicate, formed in 1890 as a joint buying and selling organization for the output of the De Beers mines, was succeeded by the modern Central Selling Organization, now the Diamond Trading Company, so that most of the leading diamantaires around the world are are still obliged to make travel arrangements to London. At the same time, for almost two centuries, a small cutting industry has contrived to exist in the British Isles and the greatest diamond which it had produced was the Regent, or "Pitt" as it was then known. The largest rough gemstone handled has been the Woyie River, cut in the early-1950s by Briefel & Lemer, the same firm who had been entrusted with the Williamson Diamond. With the Vainer Briolette, London was recognized as a diamond cutting center again.

In the autumn of 1984 associates of M. Vainer Limited informed them of the existence of a 202.85-carat diamond, yellowish, slightly spotted, but of almost perfect octahedral shape. Instead of cutting the customary brilliant from such a stone Milosh Vainer and his master cutter, Michael Gould, had other more unusual ideas: they decided to cut a briolette. This is a fairly rare diamond cut. One older example was owned by Henry Philip Hope, the banker whose collection of unique gems included the famous diamond named after him. The Briolette of India, weighing 90.38 carats was thought to have a history dating back to the Middle Ages; unfortunately recent research has revealed it was cut in Paris in 1908-09. Four more briolettes, all yellowish, are the so-called June Briolette of 48.42 carats and three sold in Geneva by Christie's in May of 1984 that weighed 44.61, 32.32 and 29.17 carats. These have all been surpassed by the Vainer Briolette weighing 116.60 carats. It has 192 facets. The GIA certified that both the polish and symmetry were Excellent and that the color was Fancy Light Yellow. The diamond also enjoys, therefore, the distinction of being the largest diamond to have been faceted in London to date since the Regent, and being the second largest briolette cut diamond in the world. The first largest briolette-cut diamond weighs 180.85 carats, and is also yellow. It is privately owned. The third largest is a 114.64-carat stone, yellow as well, listed as being discovered in India, privately owned. The fourth largest is a 107.43-carat Fancy Yellow gem. It was supposedly sold at Sothebys on May 16th, 2002, but for how much I don't know. Its estimate was $600,000 - $800,000. The fifth largest is a 101.25-carat yellow, owned by M. Vainer Limited of London, the namesake of the Vainer Briolette.

The Vainer Briolette was purchased by the Sultan of Brunei. In addition the rough stone yielded five smaller gems weighing a total of 14.93 carats, all of which were faceted in keeping with the historical cutting of the principal gem.

The Victoria

The Victoria sits elevated on an acrylic stand.

From the very beginning an aura of mystery surrounded the discovery of this gem, which weighed 457½ (old) carats in the rough. Also called the 'Imperial' or 'Great White', it remained the biggest octahedral diamond crystal from South Africa until 1896 when it was surpassed by one weighing 503¼ (old) carats that was found in the De Beers Mine.

The Victoria Transvaal

The Victoria-Transvaal is a 67.89-carat, champagne-colored, pear shaped stone. It was cut from a 240-carat crystal that was found in the Transvaal, South Africa. The first cutting produced a 75-carat 116-facet stone that measured 1 x 1³/8 inches; a recutting retained the same length and width, but reduced the depth to better proportions, making it more brilliant. The diamond has been featured in several Hollywood films, including a Tarzan episode from 1952 titled Tarzan's Savage Fury , and in leading exhibitions in the United States and Canada. The necklace was designed by Baumgold Brothers, Inc, and consists of a yellow gold chain with 66 round brilliant-cut diamonds, fringed with ten drop motifs, each set with two marquise-cut diamonds, a pear-shaped diamond, and a small round brilliant-cut diamond (the total weight of the 106 diamonds is about 45 carats). The necklace was donated by Leonard and Victoria Wilkinson in 1977 to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

The Walska

One of the "great unknowns" of the diamond world, the Walska is a 95-carat yellow briolette cut stone. Its size and cutting style is a rival for the Briolette of India, a 90-carat stone and probably the most famous diamond of this cutting style. Unfortunately not much is known about the Walska. Perhaps someday more will be published about this stone. What is known is that Ganna Walska (1887-1984) was a Polish opera singer and her birth name was Hanna Puacz. She was also an avid gardener and created Lotusland, a 37-acre estate and botanical garden east of Santa Barbara, California. Walska bought the property in 1941 and owned it until her death in 1984. Before her death, Madame Walska established the nonprofit Ganna Walska Lotusland Foundation, which now preserves this botanical treasure.

The Wittelsbach

How often does one come across phrases such as "present location unknown" or "all trace of the diamond has been lost" when undertaking research into the histories of famous diamonds? It is all the more satisfying, therefore, to recall an item in a newspaper that appeared in January, 1962, under the heading "Rare diamond reappears." This referred to the Wittelsbach, a diamond of a rare dark blue color whose reappearance, even though after a mere few decades, was nonetheless an exciting and welcoming event.

The Wittelsbach weighs 35.56 metric carats and measures 24.40 mm in diameter and 8.29 mm in depth. (The diameter figure is very likely the length of the diamond. Being slightly oval, the width would be a few millimeters less.) It is pure apart from a few surface scratches that were probably caused during removal from its setting. The diamond has been cut with 82 facets arranged in an unusual pattern -- the star facets on the crown are vertically split and the pavilion has sixteen needle-like facets, arranged in pairs, pointing outward from the culet facet.

The first record of the Wittelsbach dates from the latter part of the seventeenth century. One fact is thus certain: the diamond must be of Indian origin. Furthermore, it has been suggested that a diamond of such a rare color must once have formed part of the famous French Blue Diamond, weighing 112½ old carats in the rough, which Tavernier bought in India and later sold to Louis XIV of France. The principal gem which this yielded is the Hope, weighing 45.52 carat, so that technical reasons alone clearly preclude the possibility of the Wittelsbach having been fashioned from the same piece of rough. The sole possibility of a connection between the Wittelsbach and the Hope lies in Tavernier's French Blue Diamond being merely part of a much larger piece of rough that had at some time been split in two (a very unlikely occurrence). However, it would be interesting to ascertain whether the Wittelsbach has physical properties similar to the Hope.

The history of the Wittelsbach has been uneventful; for the most part it has been passed down from one royal owner to another. The gem formed part of the gift which Philip IV of Spain gave to his 15-year-old daughter, the Infanta Margareta Teresa, up the occasion of her betrothel to the Emperor Leopold I of Austria in 1664. (Any chance of tracing the earlier history of the Wittelsbach was lost when the Madrid archives were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.) The bride's father commanded the treasurer to compose a dowry from a recent acquisition of precious stones from India and Portugal. The resulting selection included a large blue diamond. Unfortunately, the marriage between the Emperor and the Infanta ended with her early death in 1675. Her jewels passed to her husband, and listen in a document dated March 23rd, 1673:

"Diamond ornament ... consisting of ... a large brooch with a Great Blue Diamond in the centre, to which belongs a bow-jewel set with rubies."

Leopold I later gave all the jewelry he had inherited from the Infanta to his third wife, the Empress Eleanor Magdalena, daughter of the Elector Palatine. The Empress outlived her husband, dying in 1720. By then she had already made arrangements to bequeath the 'Great Blue Diamond' to her younger granddaughter, the Archduchess Maria Amelia, daughter of the Emperor Joseph I.

In 1717 the Archduchess made the acquaintance of the man she was destined to marry, the Bavarian Crown Prince Charles Albert. Born in Brussels in 1697, he was subsequently brought up and educated in Austria. Their wedding in 1722 was an event that heralded an important change in the future of the blue diamond. Henceforth it became the 'family diamond' of House of Bavaria, the Wittelsbachs; it remained so until the abdication of the last king in 1918. The diamond was the principal item in Maria Amelia's dowry and was described under the heading of diamond ornaments as, ' No. 1 A large blue brilliant encircled with small brilliants,' valued at 240,000 guilders, proof of the value attached to the gem, especially when its worth is compared to that of other valuables recorded in contemporary inventories.

The Zale Light of Peace

In 1969 the Zale Corporation of Dallas purchased in Antwerp a fine blue-white gem weighing 434.6 carats, the source of which was simply stated as West Africa. More specifically it had almost certainly come from Sierra Leone. After two years work in New York the outcome was thirteen gems totally 172.46 carats. The biggest, a pear shape cut with 111 facets, weighs 130.27 carats and has been named the Light of Peace. The twelve smaller gems are as follows:

Shape, Weight
Marquise ... 9.11 carats
Marquise ... 9.04 carats
R. Brilliant ... 6.93 carats
Heart ... 3.63 carats
Oval ... 3.55 carats
Marquise ... 2.73 carats
Pear ... 1.83 carats
Pear ... 1.55 carats
Pear ... 1.51 carats
Pear ... 1.13 carats
Marquise ... 0.81 carats
Pear ... 0.37 carats