While all diamonds are mined from the Earth’s core, not all diamonds are equal in elegance and beauty. Some are exceptionally large or with rare color and clarity. Over the years, these properties have both mesmerized gemologists and shattered diamond price records.
Here is an overview of the top 5 famous diamonds in the world that had adorn royalty, inspired conspiracy, and made a lasting impression on the world. The list is organized bottom-up and doesn’t confine to a single class of diamond properties.
5- The Moussaieff Red Diamond
According to the Cape Town Diamond Museum, only 30 true red diamonds that weigh under 0.5 carats have been discovered to date. One such diamond, the Moussaieff Red, was discovered in Brazil by a farmer in 1987. Originally, it weighed 13.90 carats, of which 8.79 carats were lost when transforming it to a trillion-cut diamond. With a whopping weight of 5.11 carats, the diamond is among the world’s exceptional and most sought-after red diamonds.
It is one of the rarest largest diamonds with natural fancy-red color ever graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Graded as internally flawless (IF), the color of the Moussaieff Red diamond is caused by the same processes as in pink diamond. The breathtaking cranberry red color is not due to any impurity like other colored diamonds. Rather, it is the result of atomic deformities that produces a red color.
What’s most interesting about these diamonds is that it glows best in daylight and candlelight.
The red diamond is owned by Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd. to date. However, it is occasionally loaned for display at exhibitions. One such occasion was the 2003 ‘Splendor of Diamonds’ exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. This offers the general public a chance to see one of the greatest rarities of nature this world has ever seen.
4- The Hope Diamond
The much-admired rare blue-colored Hope diamond holds an unparalleled history. The hope diamond is believed to be discovered in Kollur Mine, India, in the 1600s. Fancy Tavernier Blue (named after French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier; a 17th-century traveler and story-teller) was bought in Europe by King Louis XIV in 1668. This 45.42-carat cushion-cut diamond was later stolen during French Revolution in a crown jewel looting in 1791. Keeping it short, the diamond resurfaced in London in 1839.
The uplifting name; Hope is attributed to a banking family who owned this gem for generations in the 19th century. The infamous stone had changed many hands and carats traveling around the world. The eponymous jewelry brand-owner, Pierre Cartier, purchased the large jewel in 1910. In 1912, Cartier convinced a young American socialite heiress, Evalyn Walsh Mclean, into buying the diamond. She was a collector of expensive and rare jewels and remained the longest private owner of the gemstone until 1947. Though she never believed the diamond brought her a fair amount of bad luck over the years. In 1949, Harry Winston purchased this diamond and donated it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958.
The notorious diamond has been reported to be cursed, bringing misfortune to a person who owns or wears it. The afflictions include being torn apart by a wild dog, suicide or shot dead, beheading, property loss, wealth, and children. For its color that comes from the isolated boron atoms present throughout its carbon matrix, gemologists are striving to find out how boron managed to reach as deep in the Earth’s mantle.
3- The Centenary Diamond
The centenary diamond, found by an electric X-ray recovery system in 1986 at the De Beers Premier Mine, weighed over 550 carats in its rough form. However, Master-cutter Gabi Tolkowsky and his elite team transformed it by cutting it into a heart shape, which reduced its weight to 273.85 carats. This three-year-long process not only improved its color but also improved its clarity grade.
De Beers displayed the precious diamond with modern-cut flawless clarity in 1988 on its centennial birthday, thus named centenary diamond. The diamond was unveiled in its final form at the Tower of London in 1991 with 247 facets: 83 on the girdle and164 on the pavilion and crown of the stone, and worth $100 million at that time.
The Gemological Institute of America attributed the century diamond a D grade in color, the highest grade of a colorless diamond, making it internally and externally flawless. It is one of the world-renowned largest diamonds in the world.
2- Cullinan Diamond
The Cullinan diamond weighed about 3,106.75 carats, was the second-largest diamond discovered in the Transvaal, Premier Mine of South Africa in 1905. The gemstone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the mine where it was found in 1905. This rough diamond was later cut into 105 polished diamonds by the Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam.
After analyzing it for six months, the company divided it into nine major and 96 smaller brilliant-cut stones. Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and Cullinan II are world-famous.
Cullinan I is a pear-shaped stone that weighs 530.20 carats, and Cullinan II is a cushion shape stone weighing about 317.40 carats. These two can be found in the British Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Both were determined to be the rarest Type IIa diamonds with D color and flawless clarity grades.
The Great Star of Africa
The Great Star of Africa, weighing in at 530.20 carats, is one of the world’s popular diamonds. The Great Star of Africa or Cullinan I is the largest in nine diamonds from the same rock, named Cullinan I. It is mounted, along with Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa, in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
This pear-shaped diamond with 74 facets is the largest polished diamond in the world. These days, it is set in the British Crown as part of the Royal Scepter with all other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. It is the largest oval-shaped diamond in the world, weighing about 530.4 carats, second only to the Golden Jubilee Diamond discovered in 1985.
1- The Koh-I-Noor
Topping the list of the most famous diamonds in the world is the Koh-I-Noor. This name was given to it by Persian conqueror Nadir Ali Shah, meaning Mountain of Light. Koh-I-Noor, or mountain of light, is a massive diamond. It was originally 793 carats that was mined in Kollur Mine, Andhra Pradesh, India (it was later cut to fit the Royal Cron, reducing its weight to 105.6 carats). The oval-shaped diamond is the most expensive in the world.
It is well-known for its controversial history. The history of Koh-I-Noor involves a great deal of fighting for its acquisition. But why is it so famous throughout history? First, it is a diamond of massive size and weight worthy for the adornment of emperors or kings.
The stone passed through many ruling classes, i.e., Persian, Afghan, the Mughal empire to Maharajah Ranjit Singh and finally came to the British Empire. It has been part of the magnificent peacock throne of the Mughal emperors Babur and Shahjahan, worn by Raja Ranjeet Singh himself as an emulate and later was cut to become the part of the Royal Crown.
The colorless oval-cut diamond is believed to have been mined in India in the 1300s. A book titled Kohinoor: The Story of The World’s Most Infamous Diamond, written by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand and published by Juggernaut addresses the main myths surrounding the priceless gemstone.
One of the interesting facts about the stone is that it is thought to be cursed. A Hindi text from 1306 says, “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all of its misfortunes. Only God or a woman can wear it with impunity.” The ruler who owned this stone their lives were filled with violence. Due to this fact, only women are allowed to wear it in the British Royal family.
The controversial stories also claim that Britain stole the stone from India and rightfully belongs to India. Rightly or wrongly, Britain acquired the stone in the mid-nineteenth century and presented it to Queen Victoria in 1850. Prince Albert had it cut from 186 carats to 105 carats to increase its brilliance and sparkle in 1852. Queen first used it in a brooch; however, it is now on display in the Tower of London with other British Crown jewels
Other famous diamonds in the list include the Golden Jubilee, the Star of Sierra Leone, the Perfect Pink, the Winston Blue, the Heart of Eternity, the Excelsior diamond, and many more.The list for the well-known diamonds is long. However, I presented here the top five most well-known diamonds. Some are famous despite their small size, i.e., the Moussaieff Red diamond, for their exceptionally rare and vibrant natural colors. However, the Koh-I-Noor diamond is world-famous for its glorious yet controversial history. While other diamonds have been priced, this diamond is priceless to date. Want to know more? Read the 4Cs of diamond quality.