GIANT DIAMONDS LURE INVESTOR CASH TO BOTSWANA
What’s Worth $28 Million and Fits in Your Pocket?
GABORONE, Botswana—In a quiet room behind several sets of bulletproof doors, N.B. Parag turned a 141-carat rough diamond in his hands. The golf-ball-size rock was too big for a ring finger, but just right for an investment portfolio.
“People that buy big stones are invested in their value,” said Mr. Parag, a director at Karp Group, an Indian diamond manufacturer and retailer. He says about half the large stones he sells end up in the vaults of wealthy customers who see diamonds as a long-term store of value.
Mr. Parag was in Botswana’s sleepy capital to bid on the latest batch of jumbo stones unearthed at an open-pit mine a few hundred miles to the north, at the edge of the Kalahari Desert. He marveled at the stone that sold days later for $6.1 million. “It’s like a work of art,” he said. He bid on it but fell short.
Dozens of diamond dealers are flocking to this remote African country to buy huge gems. Some of those stones are going into investment portfolios alongside stocks, bonds and gold, a trend that has accelerated as miners in southern Africa have started to put more big diamonds on the market in the past few years.
“It’s $10 million you can carry in your pocket without setting off an alarm, and it’s reasonably resalable. That’s unique,” said Brian Menell, an oil, gas and mining investor who has helped find big diamonds for wealthy clients and formerly worked for diamond-industry giant De Beers.
Stones of up to a few carats—each carat weighs 200 milligrams—have traditionally driven the diamond jewelry industry that has boomed in China and India. Mined in Africa, Canada and elsewhere, they are generally polished in Belgium, Israel or India and then set in rings, necklaces and other jewelry.
Like the price of gold, the value of those relatively common stones has declined since the height of the global financial crisis in 2011, when investors snapped up both minerals as a haven.
Miners in southern Africa have fetched millions of dollars for exceptionally large stones mined recently. Select sales:
- Oct. 21, 2014: Vancouver-basedLucara Diamond Corp. sells a 203-carat diamond from its mine in Botswana for $8.2 million.
- Oct. 1, 2014: Britain-based Gem Diamonds Ltd. sells a 198-carat diamond recovered from its mine in Lesotho for $10.6 million.
- Sept. 16, 2014: London-based Petra Diamonds Ltd. sells a 123-carat blue diamond, above, from its flagship mine in South Africa for $27.6 million.
But over the past two decades, prices for larger stones have more than doubled. Prices for more accessible one-carat stones have risen 76%, according to the Rapaport Group, thanks to factors including De Beers’s tight control of many of the jewelry-grade stones that reach the market.
Martin Rapaport, founder of the firm whose price reports are the industry standard, believes diamonds will continue to appreciate as emerging-market consumers develop a taste for luxury. “If you want a long-term play on global economic expansion, diamonds are an increasingly accessible way to get it,” he said.
Zurich-based Finanz Konzept AG agrees. The firm launched a fund in 2012 that buys diamonds and stores them in Switzerland, Dubai and Hong Kong before reselling them to jewelers and other investors. Asset manager Necip Babuc says investments of at least $100,000 from wealthy individuals and $1 million from institutions should push the fund above $50 million next year.
Reflecting the recent dip in diamond prices, the fund is down almost 7% since 2012—better than many gold-focused funds that are down about 25% in that time.
As the fund grows, Mr. Babuc says he may add more “exceptional stones”—the industry term for gems of about 10 carats or more—to a portfolio that leans toward the smaller diamonds that drive the jewelry trade. Large diamonds can be hard to resell, he says, because of their high price tags.
But diamond traders say demand for big stones is on the rise from wealthy individuals drawn to the discreet exclusivity of a pocket-size asset with a seven-figure value. To fill orders for clients (which none was willing to name), they are turning to Botswana, where Vancouver-based Lucara Diamond Corp. and other miners are turning out large stones with increasing frequency.
“The top end of the market is evolving,” said William Lamb, Lucara’s chief executive. “Suddenly, there are more stones available.”
This year, Lucara made $136 million selling just 50 big diamonds, up from $72 million on 45 “exceptional stones” in 2013. London-based Petra Diamonds Ltd. in September sold a 123-carat blue diamond recovered from its flagship mine in South Africa for $27.6 million. Since it opened in 2006, Gem Diamonds Ltd.’s mine in Lesotho, a mountainous nation landlocked within South Africa, has produced four of the 20 largest white diamonds ever found.
Botswana is the world’s top diamond producer, but its stones were long spirited off by De Beers and other producers for sale in London and polishing in Antwerp, Tel Aviv and India.
At the government’s insistence, De Beers last year instructed its customers to pick up their diamonds in Gaborone instead. More than 20 polishing factories have opened here, and most of them specialize in larger diamonds that help make up for production costs that are higher than in India and other markets. They have created 4,000 jobs in a country with scant employment opportunities beyond government and the safari-tourism business.
“The cost of doing business in Botswana is just that: You have to do your business here,” said Jacob Thamage, the government’s lead liaison to the diamond industry.
The heart of this new industry is a high-security office park near Gaborone’s airport, where armored trucks weave between goats and cattle and young Botswanans sift piles of rough diamonds worth many millions of dollars.
There, Mr. Parag of the Karp Group was one of several diamond merchants who had flown in from Johannesburg to assess 14 stones. They ranged from 32 carats to a dazzling 239 carats that Lucara had up for auction.
“For the big stones,” Mr. Parag said, “you have to come to Botswana.”
PINK DIAMOND SETS AUCTION RECORD
It was a busy week at the auction houses as an internally flawless vivid pink diamond sets an auction record at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. In Bonhams, New York, Burmese rubies and pearls shared center stage, and in watches Patek Philippe timepieces took the top seven spots at a Hong Kong sale.
Sotheby’s said its Magnificent Jewels sale in Hong Kong on October 7 resulted in a world auction record for a fancy vivid pink diamond when an 8.41-carat internally flawless pink diamond sold for nearly $17.8 million. The internally flawless fancy vivid purple-pink gem also is a type IIa diamond, among the most chemically pure with exceptional optical transparency, according to the auction house.
According to Sotheby’s, the previous world auction record for a fancy vivid pink diamond and record price per carat for a pink diamond were both achieved by a 5-carat fancy vivid pink diamond that sold for more than $10.7 million, or $2.15 million per carat, in Hong Kong in November 2009.
Per-carat price records were also set for a Cartier Kashmir sapphire ring that sold for $193,975 per carat and for a sapphire and diamond ring that sold for $236,404 per carat.
At Bonhams New York Fine Jewelry auction held October 8, a triple stand natural pearl, gem and diamond necklace fetched $185,000, over three times its high estimate. The piece is completed by a triple pavé-set diamond flowerhead clasp, enhanced by rubies, emeralds, and sapphires; centered by old European-cut diamonds and a fancy-cut emerald.
The top lot of the evening was a 14.51-carat round brilliant-cut diamond, flanked by tapered baguette-cut diamonds.
In addition, a ruby and diamond bracelet designed as a graduated band of oval-cut ruby cluster links, enhanced by round brilliant-cut diamond borders, sold for $161,000; and a ruby and diamond pendant/brooch and necklace signed by M. Gerard where the largest ruby weighed 8 carats, achieved $106,250, soaring past its high estimate of $70,000.
Back in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s Important Watches sale on October 8 was led by Patek Philippe. The Ref. 5216R pink gold minute repeating perpetual calendar tourbillon wristwatch with retrograde date and moon phases sold for $697,436; and a Ref. 5213G white gold automatic minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch with retrograde date in original double seal, sold for $543,590. Both watches set world auction records for their references.
The top lot of the sale was a Patek Ref. 5073P platinum and diamond-set automatic minute repeating perpetual calendar wristwatch, which fetched $743,590.
Source: Forbes Life
THEFT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
It’s a piece of bling that would make a millionaire blush – and it’s been nabbed in broad daylight.
Police are appealing for public assistance after a unique and enormously expensive diamond ring was stolen from an Alexandria auction site on Saturday afternoon.
The pink argyle and white diamond ring, valued at $577,000, was taken from a display counter at Theodore Bruce Auctions on Ralph Street between the hours of 12.30pm and 1.25pm.
It’s estimated around 100 people walked through the auction centre during that time.
Police Media said they had not been able to acquire CCTV footage of the theft, however the diamonds on the ring have been laser-inscribed with a serial number.
Pink argyle diamond is one of the rarest and most precious diamonds in the world, with prices of $500,000 typical for a single pink argyle ring. Some estimates suggest the world will exhaust its pink argyle supply by as soon as 2020.
Theodore Bruce Auctions have been contacted for comment.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE DIAMOND EXIBITIONS
Marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Buckingham Palace’s 2014 Summer Opening is showcasing a selection of the Queen’s very own diamond collection. Comprising of pieces which have been in the Royal family for generations as well as additions gained during her reign, the exhibition explores the significance of diamonds in the monarchy and the transformations some of the pieces have undergone over the years.
Buckingham Palace is only open 8 weeks a year; don’t miss an opportunity to see this unique exhibition and one of the most famous palaces in the world.
A highlight of the exhibition has to be the diamond necklace and earring set worn by the Queen during her coronation. Made from 25 brilliant-cut diamonds, this striking arrangement was also worn by Queens Victoria, Alexandra, Mary and Elizabeth I on their coronations – that’s over 450 years of royal history.
Also on display is the crown worn by Queen Victoria for her official Diamond Jubilee portrait in 1897 and the ‘Girls of Great Britain’ Tiara – probably one of the most recognisable pieces of royal jewellery. This tiara is regularly worn by the Queen during official ceremonies and the exhibition details the changes it has experienced with each Queen who owns it.
The diamond exhibition will also be bringing together two exciting first-time displays. Previously unseen photographs of the Queen Mother will on show along with an exhibit showcasing 7 out of the 9 principal diamonds cut from the Cullinan stone – the largest diamond ever found.
Buckingham Palace Tickets
As well as entry into the diamond exhibition, Buckingham Palace tickets also include entry into the Ball Room, gardens and State Rooms where you can admire some of the Royal Collection’s finest works including painting by Rembrandt, Rubens and Poussin.
51 — FAMOUS AND HISTORIC DIAMONDS
Ever since man discovered how to cut and polish gemstones they found or dug out from the earth, people have sought after diamonds. It’s unknown exactly where the first diamond was discovered, but most historians believe it was somewhere near India, which has a long and rich history with precious stones and jewelry. Throughout history there have been many famous and infamous diamonds, here is a brief look at some them.
Archduke Joseph Diamond: The Archduke Joseph Diamonds is one of the Golconda diamonds (an ancient Indian diamond mine), what makes it unique is its color and clarity. It measures 74.65 carats and is rated a flawless D. The diamond is a family heirloom of the Hapsburg Family from Hungary. It was originally the property of Joseph of Alcsut the Archduke Joseph who was part of the Hungarian Government. He was leader of a reform movement that eventually failed and he was forced into retirement. During World War II the gem was put in hiding in France. The whereabouts of the diamond were unknown until 1961 when it came up for auction. In 1993 it went on auction a second time and sold for 6.4 million dollars. It is set in a remarkable necklace and is quite often lent to celebrities for special functions. Celine Dion wore the necklace on her return performance on CBS in April of 2002 when she premiered “A New Day Has Come”.
Allnat Diamond: The Allnat diamond is a cushion cut fancy vivid yellow diamond. Prior to 1950 there is no recorded history for this diamond although experts guess it came from the premier diamond mine in South Africa. In 1950 Major Allnat commissioned Cartier to make a setting for the diamond. In 1996 the ring was placed on auction at Christies and sold for over 3 million dollars to the SIBA Corporation. The stone was re-cut from 102.07 carats to 101.29 carats and it was regarded as a vivid fancy yellow increasing its value. It’s currently in the “Splendor of Diamonds” collection at the Smithsonian Museum.
Blue Diamond of the Crown: See Hope Diamond
Centenary Diamond: The Centenary Diamond is the third largest diamond to have been extracted from the DeBeers mine in South Africa. Its 273.85 carats is internally and externally flawless with a D color rating. It was displayed in its uncut form at 599 carats for the DeBeers Centenary Anniversary. It was displayed in the Tower of London for several years before it was removed. The DeBeers Company hasn’t commented publicly, but most people believe it was sold to a private collection. While no sale price was ever made public it was insured for over 100 million.
Cullinan Diamond: The Cullinan Diamond is the largest diamond ever discovered. It was originally 3,160 carats when it was extracted. It was given as a gift to King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The stone was eventually cut into 11 large stones, the largest being the Cullinan I or Star of Africa. Another notable stone is the Cullinan II or Lesser Star of Africa both of which are part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Darya-ye Noor Diamond: Is one of the Crown Jewels from the country of Iran. It is well known not only for its large size of 182 carats but also its pale pink color which is exceptionally rare in diamonds. Modern research also indicates this may have been part of a larger stone that was originally part of the throne of Mugahl Emperor Shah Jehan. The Noor-ol-Ein is also believed to have originally been part of the same stone.
Deepdene Diamond: The Deepdene diamond is unique in the diamond world as it has something of a tarnished history. It got its name from the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Bok of Pennsylvania who sold it to Harry Winston at 104.88 carats. It then found its way through Europe and Germany eventually ending up for auction at Christies in 1971. Dr. Edward Gybelin who had a chance to examine the gem before the auction, reported that the gem had been irradiated to give a yellow color and make it more valuable. Van Cleef & Arpels purchased the diamond and had it tested, which confirmed the irradiation claims of Dr. Edward Gybelin, and they demanded a refund. The current whereabouts of the Deepdene diamond are unknown. Lastly something of mystery is when the diamond was auctioned at Christie’s, it was slightly smaller at 104.52 carats.
Dresden Green Diamond: The Dresden Green Diamond is the largest of the very rare natural green diamonds. It is 41 carats and its green color comes from natural and not artificial irradiation. The diamond was discovered in 1722 before the technology for artificial irradiation existed. This diamond is currently part of a research project to help identify diamonds which are naturally colored. The diamond is named after the Saxony Capital in Germany. For most of its history the diamond has stayed in Germany, except during World War II when it was in the Soviet Union, and then in 2000 when it temporarily was in the same exhibit as the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian museum. Today the diamond can be found in Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden in Germany.
Eagle Diamond: In 1876 Charles Woods was digging on land he was renting in Eagle Wisconsin. He came across a stone he thought was quartz because of its smoky yellow color. He kept the stone but didn’t think anything of it. A few years later he and his family came on hard times and sold the stone to Samuel Boyton for $1.00. Boyton had the stone appraised and was shocked to discover it was a real diamond. The stone was sold to Tiffany’s for $850. After World War I J.P. Morgan purchased the stone and donated it to the Museum of Natural History. This diamond was one of the stones stolen by Murph the Surf along with the Star of India. While the other diamonds were recovered, the Eagle Diamond was never seen again. Most experts believe the stone was sold and re-cut into smaller diamonds.
Eureka Diamond: The Eureka diamond is a rather ordinary 10.73 carat brilliant cut smoky diamond. What makes the diamond noteworthy is that it was the first diamond discovered in South Africa. The young Erasmus Jacobs found the stone and after having it in his possession for a few years gave it to his neighbor Schalk van Niekerk who collected gems. He sent it to Dr W.G. Atherstone of Grahamstown who was the first to identify it as diamond. The diamond was shown to the world at the Paris Exhibition of 1867.
Excelsior Diamond: At the time of its discovery in 1893 the Excelsior Diamond was the largest diamond discovered at 971 carats. It was displaced by the Cullinan Diamond in 1905. The stone had a blue and white color and was eventually cut into 13 stones ranging from 68 carats to 13 carats.
French Blue Diamond: See Hope Diamond
Grand Duke of Tuscany: The history of the Grand Duke of Tuscany before 1657 is unverified and muddled with conflicting rumors. The French jeweler Jean Baptiste Tavernier noted it was part of the collection of Ferdinando II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. When the Austrian Empire fell at the end of World War I it was taken into exile into Switzerland by the Imperial family. The diamond was stolen in 1918 and has never been seen again. There were rumors of the stone being in South Africa and the United States, but they remain unconfirmed. It is currently believed the gem has been re cut into smaller stones and no longer exists. In its original form the stone had light yellow green tones, a rose cut, and weighed 137.27 carats. The diamond was also known as the Tuscan, the Tuscany Diamond, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Austrian Diamond, the Austrian Yellow Diamond, and the Florentine.
The Golden Jubilee Diamond: The Golden Jubilee is currently the world’s largest faceted diamond displacing the Cullinan I or Star of Africa by over 15 carats. The diamond is cut into a fire cushion shape and weighs a total of 545.67 carats. What’s most remarkable about the stone is its yellow brown color. This diamond was actually the “test” for new cutting methods that were to be used on the Centenary Diamond. The diamond was purchased by Henry Ho of Thailand who owns the 59 story Jewelry Trade Center in Bangkok. The diamond was blessed by the late Pope John Paul II, The supreme Imam in Thailand and the Supreme Buddhist patriarch. It was presented as a gift to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his coronation. It is currently part of the crown jewels in the Royal Thai Palace.
Golden Maharaja Diamond: The Golden Maharaja has an unknown past but most experts agree it comes form a South African mine. It’s known for its fancy dark brown color and measures 65.57 carats. The gem made its first appearance in 1937 at the Paris World Fair. It was on exhibit at the Museum from 1975 to 1990 when it was sold for 1.3 million. The stone was put up for auction again by Christies in 2006.
Great Chrysanthemum Diamond: The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond is a fancy brown pear shaped modified brilliant cut that measures 104.15 carats in size. The diamond originated in South Africa, was cut in New York by S&M Kaufman, and was named after it’s similarity to the brown chrysanthemum flower. The current owner of the diamond is unknown and is believed to be in a private collection.
Great Moghul Diamond: The Great Moghul diamond is the most legendary diamond of the ancient world. It was first described by traveler Jean Baptiste Tavernier from a visit to India he made in 1665. The Great Moghul Diamond was said to have measured 240 carats, a size unheard of in the ancient world. However the stone disappeared and hasn’t been seen for thousands of years. Experts are divided some believing that the Koh-i-Nor diamond is the Great Moghul Diamond other experts believe it’s the Orolov Diamond.
Heart of Eternity: The Heart of Eternity diamond is one the most famous fancy blue diamonds. It came from the premier mine in South Africa which has the largest production of fancy colored diamonds. Blue diamonds represent 0.1% of the mine’s total output, and of the ten highest priced diamond sales, 6 of them were blue. The heart of eternity is the sister stone of the Millennium Star which were both cut from the same stone. They were part of the DeBeers Millennium Jewels Collection and were the target of an unsuccessful diamond heist at the Millennium Dome during the year 2000 celebration. The gem is 27.64 carats and is classified as fancy vivid blue. The DeBeers Corporation won’t confirm current ownership but a recent exhibit at the Smithsonian indicated it was on loan from a private collector, leading to speculation it was purchased during the Millennium Dome Exhibition.
Hope Diamond: The Hope Diamiond is the previous record holder for being the largest faceted diamond and is probably the most well known and historically interesting of all diamonds. The Hope Diamond was originally known as the Tavernier Blue which was a crudely cut triangular diamond. According to legend, it was stolen from an Indian statue of Sita and purchased by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier around 1660. The diamond was sold to King Louis XIV of France who had it cut into a 67.125 carat stone. It was renamed the French Blue and worn for ceremonial functions in France. The diamond was rarely seen until Louis XVI gave it to Marie Antoinette who added it to her jewelry collection. When the French Revolution started the diamond was stolen and resurfaced in La Havre four years later. The diamond disappeared for another 20 years (which coincidentally is exactly how long it took for the statute of limitations to run out on the crime) when it resurfaced in the hands of a London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason in 1812. Henry Philip Hope purchased the diamond in 1824, after his death his heirs fought over the diamond. It passed through three generations of the Hope family until Henry Francis Hope Pelham-Clinton Hope fell into bankruptcy and was forced to sell the stone. The diamond continued to change hands until Pierre Cartier acquired it in 1910. They reset the stone and sold it to socialite Evelyn Walsh McLean. She left the stone to her heirs, however it had to be sold again to settle outstanding debt. The stone was purchased by legendary jeweler Harry Winston who had the lower portion of the stone cut to increase its brilliance. After having the diamond as part of his traveling exhibit known as “the court of jewels,” he donated it to the Smithsonian Institution where he sent it through the US postal service in plain brown wrapper. The diamond is said to have been cursed by the Hindu God from whose statue it was originally stolen because financial ruin or sudden death occurred to many who owned it. The diamond was also the inspiration for the fictional “Heart of the Ocean” in the movie Titanic. In 2005 new computer research proved that the Hope Diamond was indeed the French Blue that was stolen from the jewelry collection of Marie Antoinette.
Hortensia Diamond: The Hortensia Diamond is a pale pink, orange diamond that was originally part of the jewel collection of the French Crown. It was lost/stolen with all of the other gems in Marie Antoinette’s collection during the French Revolution. A man named Depeyron confessed its secret location while on the chopping block facing execution. The Regent Diamond was also recovered from the secret hiding spot. The diamond gets its name from Hortense de Beauharnais the Queen of Holland who wore the diamond. It was also mounted on the epaulette braid of Napoleon for a short time. The diamonds value is mostly historic, while it measures 20 carats it has a very visible crack on its surface.
Horseshoe Diamond: See Jones Diamond
Idol’s Eye Diamond: Where the Idol’s Eye diamond originally came from is something of a mystery. Many claim it was the eye of an idol or statue from a temple in Benghazi. That is highly unlikely since that area has been Muslim since the 8th Century and devoid of idols. The diamond first appears in recorded history at a Christie’s auction in 1865. At the time of the auction the buyer was anonymous, but history later revealed the buyer was the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Towards the end of his rule Hamid sensed he was going to be forced out of power and started to move his wealth to a secure location, this included his collection of jewels. However the person responsible for moving the jewels stole them and turned up in Paris. The diamond was purchased by a Spanish Nobleman who kept them in London. The gemstone remained hidden until after World War II when a Dutch Merchant acquired them and sold it to Harry Winston. He in turn resold the diamond to Frederick G. Bonfils, the founder of the Denver Post who gave it as a gift to his daughter May Bonfils Stanton. Mrs. Stanton became something of a diamond collector and is actually credited with starting some of the rumors about the diamonds history. At her death the diamond was auctioned to Harry Levinson. Levinson later sold it to Laurence Graff. Graff resold the diamond with two other diamonds in what was one of the single largest diamond transactions in the e world. The Idol’s Eye diamond is a triangular old mine cut measuring 70. 21 carats and has a slight bluish color.
Incomparable Diamond: The Incomparable Diamond was the fourth largest uncut diamond when it was discovered. In 1984 owners Marvin Samuels, Louis Glick, and David Zale of Zales Jewelers had the diamond cut. The largest stone was 407.48 carat triolette shape. There were also 14 smaller diamonds from the same stone. The largest diamond retained the name Incomparable diamond and is golden in color. The smaller stones range from colorless to deep rich brown. The Incomparable diamond made an unexpected appearance on the internet auction site EBay in November of 2002 with a reserve price of 15 million pounds sterling but remained unsold.
Jones Diamond: The Jones Diamond was discovered by William P. “Punch” Jones and his father Grover while pitching horseshoes in 1928. They thought the stone was a piece of quartz which was common in the area and kept it in a cigar box in their tool shed for 14 years. In 1942 they brought it to the geology department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute where the professor informed them it was actually an alluvial diamond. The diamond was sent to the Smithsonian Institution for safekeeping until 1964 when it returned to the family in Virginia who kept it in a safe deposit box at the First Valley National Bank in Rich Creek, Virginia. In 1984 the Jones family sold the diamond at Sotheby’s auction to a private collection. The current owner is unknown. The diamond is also known as “Punch Jones Diamond,” “The Grover Jones Diamond,” or “The Horseshoe Diamond,” and at 34.48 carats is the largest alluvial diamond ever discovered in the United States.
Kimberley Diamond: The Kimberly Diamond was discovered in the Kimberly Mine in South Africa in 1921. It was cut into a distinctive Emerald Cut shape in 1958 and measured 70 carats. In 1971 it entered a private jewelry collection.
Koh-i-Noor Diamond: The Koh-i-Noor Diamond or KohiNoor Diamond as it is sometimes known was originally the largest cut diamond in the world. It originated in India where it passed through the hands of both Indian and Persian rulers who fought over its possession. For hundreds of years it was one of the most sought after spoils of war in the region. When England seized control of the region in 1849 British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli took control of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond and had it sent as a gift to Queen Victoria who was proclaimed Empress of India. The stone was sent back to England and put on display. Despite its size over 186 carats, the diamond lacked any brilliance and clarity, and was visually unimpressive. Price Albert had the stone cut from 186 carats to 105.602 carats in order to increase its brilliance. The end result was still not as impressive as they had hoped it would be. The stone was set into the Crown of the Queens Consort and was first worn by Queen Alexandra, then Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The diamond is currently part of the Collection of Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. Currently many countries are lobbying to have the stone returned to them including Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, none of which have been successful. Many feel the Koh-i-Noor was connected with the Orlov Diamond.
Krupp Diamond: The Krupp Diamond originally came from the collection of Vera Krupp whose family supplied munitions to the Germany Army in World War II. Harry Winston purchased the diamond and the sold it to Richard Burton as a gift for Elizabeth Taylor for $305,000 in 1968. The diamond is one of her most prized possessions and she’s worn it in every film she’s made since it was given to her. It also was shown in her appearance in the Simpson’s Cartoon in 1992.
Lesotho Promise: The Lesotho Promise is a new diamond that was discovered in 2006. It was discovered in the Letseng diamond mine in Lesotho. In its uncut format it is 603 carats in size and estimated to be a D in color. The diamond sold for 12.4 million in its uncut form.
Millennium Star: The Millennium Star is the sister stone to the Heart of Eternity diamond as both were originally cut from the same stone. Unlike its sister stone Millennium Star is a colorless diamond rated a flawless D. It’s also the second largest D diamond in the world measuring at 203.04 carats. This diamond is part of the DeBeers Millennium Collection and was part of the exhibit at the Millennium Dome. The stone was also the target of a failed diamond heist. When the police, security, and DeBeers officials learned of the planned robbery a duplicate stone was created and placed on display as a precaution. The thieves failed to get their hands on the real diamond or the replica.
Moussaieff Red: The Moussaieff Red is the largest fancy red colored diamond known. It measures 5.11 carats and has a trillion style cut. The stone was discovered in Brazil. The stone was originally known as the Red Shield until it was bought by the Moussaieff Jewelers Company. The diamond was also part of “Splendor of Diamonds” show at the Smithsonian along with the Millennium Star, Heart of Eternity, Hope Diamond, and Dresden Green.
Mouawad Splendour: The Mouawad Splendor is part of the diamond collection of Robert Mouawad. The diamond measures an astounding 101.84 carats and is graded as a flawless D diamond. In addition, it has a very unusual 11 sided cut. One of the more interesting things about this diamond is it was featured in Victoria’s Secret Diamond Fantasy Bra of 2006.
Nizam Diamond: The Nizam Diamond was an old world diamond from India. It was a convex shape with irregular facets measuring 277 carats. It was owned by Nizams of Hyderabad in the 1830’s, however, it was lost, stolen or was re-cut as a result of becoming a spoil of war.
Noor-ol-Ein Diamond: this diamond is also known by the alternate spelling Nur-Ul-Ain Diamond. It’s one of the largest pink diamond in the world said to have originated from India. It’s an oval diamond brilliant cut diamond that measures 60 carats. It is currently set in a platinum tiara with other pink, yellow, and colorless diamonds. The tiara was fashioned by Harry Winston for Empress Farah for her wedding to the last Shah of Iran in 1957.
Ocean Dream: The Ocean Dream is the only blue green diamond rated to be of natural color by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The diamond measures 5.51 carats and is rated a fancy deep blue green. The unique color was produced by exposure to radiation for millions of years. Diamond manufacturers are able to produce similar colors with artificial irradiation however these are considered enhanced color diamonds.
Oppenheimer Diamond: The Oppenheimer Diamond is one of the largest near perfect uncut diamonds in the world. It measures 253.7 carats and has a yellow color. It was purchased by Harry Winston in 1964 and presented to the Smithsonian Institution. It was named after Sir Ernest Oppenheimer who was the Chairman of the DeBeers Corporation from 1925 to 1957.
Orlov Diamond: The Orlov diamond is another old diamond that exact history is somewhat sketchy. The diamond was said to be one of the eyes of a religious statue of Lord Ranganatha in the Temple of Srirangam. According to legend the statue was behind seven levels of secured walls and no Christians were allowed past the fourth level. A deserter from the French army is said to have converted to Hinduism and eventually secured enough trust over a number of years to be allowed to worship the statue. One night he pried one of the diamond eyes from the statue and escaped with it. The stone made its way back to England and after several sales would end up in the possession of Count Grigory Grigorievich Orlov. The count wanted the stone to carry flavor of an old love, Princess Sophie Frederick Augusta. While the princess didn’t return his affection she did go on to become Catherine the Great of Russia and gave the count many gifts including a Marble Palace in St. Petersburg. She also named the stone after him and had it set into the Imperial Sceptre. One of the most unusual things about the Orlov Diamond is it shape it retains its original Indian Rose cut resembling an egg which has been cut in half. Many experts believe the Orlov was re-cut from the Grand Moghul Diamond although that hasn’t been proven conclusively. When the thief stole the gem from the eye of the statue he only stole one and there is no record of what happened to the other gemstone. Many experts believe the Koh-i-Noor diamond was the other eye. The Orlov Diamond measures 189.62 carats.
The Paragon Diamond: The Paragon diamond is one of the more unusually shaped diamonds. It is a 7 sided diamond that measures 137.82 carts and is rated a flawless D in color. The necklace currently belongs to the Graff Company and is set in combination necklace – bracelet setting.
Premier Rose Diamond: The Premier Rose Diamond was discovered in 1978 at the Premier Mine in South Africa. After the diamond was cut down to its finished size of 137.02 carats, it was recognized as setting a new standard for portions and symmetry in large diamonds. It was originally purchased by the Mouw Diamond Cutting Company in partnership with William Goldberg. Today the diamond is part of the Robert Mouawad collection and is valued at over 10 million dollars.
Pumpkin Diamond: While it is small compared to other diamonds the Pumpkin Diamond is the largest fancy orange colored known in the world. It measures 5.54 carats in size and is rated fancy vivid orange by the GIA. The diamond went up for auction at Sotheby’s where it was purchased by the House of Harry Winston for 1.3 million dollars. The auction occurred the day before Halloween and stone was renamed the Pumpkin Diamond. The diamond was set in a ring with two smaller diamonds on both sides and was worn by Halley Berry at the 2002 Oscars when she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Monsters Ball. The diamond was also part of the Smithsonian “Splendor of Diamonds” exhibit.
Rob Red Diamond: While the Rob Red Diamond is modest in size measuring 0.59 carats it still holds a special place in the diamond world. Red diamonds are extremely rare, the Moussaieff Red is the largest red diamond but the Rob Red is rated as the most intense red diamond ever discovered. The diamond is rated fancy purplish red by the GIA and is considered by many the most important red diamond in the world.
Red Cross Diamond: The Red Cross Diamond was discovered in the Kimberly Mines in 1901. It’s a canary colored cushioned shaped diamond that measures 205.07 carats. It is very distinct having a Maltese Cross visible from the top. The diamond was auctioned at Christies in 1918 with the benefits going to the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John. The stone later passed in an unknown member of the royal family of England and then to an unnamed American businessman who put it up for auction in 1973. The stone failed to meet its reserve price and the auction was removed and tried again in 1977. The stone again failed to meet the reserve price and was withdrawn, the current owner and location are unknown.
Regent Diamond: The Regent Diamond has long past with many unexpected twists and turns. According to legend it was discovered by a slave in a diamond mine in 1692 in India. He stole the diamond and hid it in a wound inside of his body. The slave was killed on a ship and the captain took the diamond. It was sold to Thomas Pitt a well known merchant trader in India. He finally managed to sell it to Philippe II, Duke of Orleans in 1717. It was set in a Crown for the Coronation crown for Louis XV and then in another crown for Louis XVI in 1775. He gave it to Marie Antoinette who added it to her jewelry collection. The diamond was, stolen, hidden, and eventually recovered. It then found its way into the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801. It was set into his sword until his death when it was sent to Austria. It was eventually returned to France and was set into the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III. It was then set in a Greek style Diadem crown for Empress Eugenie where it remains today, and is displayed in the Louvre Museum. The diamond measures 140.6 carats and is a cushion style cut. It is white with a slight blue tint in color.
Sancy Diamond: Little is known of the Sancy Diamond before the 14th century when it was most likely stolen from India. It was first recorded as measuring 100 carats when it was part of the dowry of Valentina, Galeazzo di Visconti’s daughter in 1389. She married Duke d’Orleans who was the brother of Charles VI of France. This began a long history of the diamond being used as collateral and going in and out of pawn over the next few hundred years. Duke John of Burgundy acquired the stone as a spoil of war victory and passed it down through his family for several generations including Charles the Bold. Charles brought the stone into battle believing it was good luck. This turned out not to be true as he lost the battle and his life and the stone was missing for 14 years. It then turned up in the possession of Jacob Fugger who sold it to the King of Portugal. When Phillip II of Spain Invaded Portugal he claimed the Sancy, however, the king escaped with several other jewels which he sold the French and English Crown. The Sancy found itself in the ownership of Elizabeth I, who also owned the Three Brothers stone which was also lost by Charles the Bold. Elizabeth secretly pawned the stone to finance a Dutch war against Spain. The diamond changed hands again and found a new owner Nicolas Harlay de Sancy whose wife had an appetite for diamonds. Elizabeth I wanted the diamond back and Sancy who eventually went bankrupt was convinced to sell it back to James I of the English Crown. The diamond went in and out of pawn again several times until 1660 when it was used to settle a debt and came into the ownership of Cardinal Mazarin. Upon his death the Cardinal gave it to the French Crown. It became part of Marie Antoinette’s collection until the French Revolution, when it was lost again. The stone found its way into the ownership of the Spanish Crown until it was “reclaimed” by Joseph Bonaparte. The diamond disappeared again for 25 years long enough for the statue of limitations to expire, when it surfaced to be purchased by Nicholas Demidov, who gave it to his wife. It was then sold to Sir Jamsetee Jeejeebhoy and eventually to William Astor in 1865. The Astor family kept possession of the stone until 1976 when they sold it for an undisclosed amount to the Louvre Museum where it still resides today. The diamond has a slightly unusual shape and is nearly flay on one side. This type of cut is very common in older diamonds. The stone measures 55.232 carats and has a slight yellow coloration. Most experts agree that the Sancy was part of a much larger diamond that was re-cut at some point, however there is no consensus which diamond it originally came from.
Shah Diamond: The Shah diamond traces its history back to India at about 1450. In 1591 it was given to the court of Shah Nizam, who ordered that it be inscribed with “Burhan-Nizam-Shah Second. Year 1000″ on one of the facets. That same year Great Moghul Akbar seized the throne and the diamond. When his grandson took the throne he had another inscription put on the stone “The son of Jehangir-Shah Jehan-Shah. Year 1051.″ The diamond remained in India until 1738. That year Nadir Shah attacked and took the stone as a spoil of war back with him to Persia. In 1824 another inscription was made on the stone “The ruler of the Kadgar-Fath ali-shah Sultan. Year 1242.″ In 1829 Alexander Sergeevich Griboedov a Russian Diplomat was murdered in Russia. This put a lot of strain and pressure on the relations between Russia and Iran. The Shah of Iran sent his son Hosrov-Mirza to St. Petersburg where they gave the diamond as a gift to the Russian Government. The diamond remains part of the Russian Diamond Fund and is housed in the Kremlin. The Shah diamond weighs 90 carats, is 3cm long, and is extremely clear with a slight yellow tint.
Spirit of de Grisogono Diamond: The Spirit of de Grisogono Diamond has the distinct honor of being the worlds largest cut black diamond, measuring 312.24 carats. There are only two other black diamonds of noteworthy size the Black Orlov and the Amsterdam Diamond.
Spoonmakers Diamond: There are several stories surrounding the origin of the Spoonmakers diamond, however, here is the one favored by most leading jewelers and gemologists. In 1774 a French officer purchased a diamond from the daughter of the Maharajah of Madras. The diamond was put up for auction and was purchased by Napoleon’s mother. When Napoleon was sent into exile, his mother sold the diamond to try save her son. The diamond was purchased by an agent for Tepedelenli Ali Pasha. Pasha was sentenced to death for crimes against the state and all his assets were seized including the diamond. All of his possessions were moved to the treasury of the Ottoman Empire. The jewel worn by Napoleon’s mother was known as the Pigot Diamond and measured 86 carats. The Spoonmakers diamond is very similar in appearance to the Pigot and also measures 86 carats. Most experts believe the story of the fisherman who traded the diamond for three spoons or the spoonmaker who originally found the diamond were circulated to remove any questions of provenance or previous ownership. Locally the stone is known as the Kasikci and is the centerpiece of the Topkap Palace Museum collection in Istanbul, Turkey.
Steinmetz Pink Diamond: The Steinmetz Pink Diamond is the largest pink diamond in the world. It is rated a fancy vivid pink by the GIA and measures 59.6 carats in size. Pink diamonds are extremely rare so the cutting of the diamond was long and cautious process requiring over 20 months. The diamond was unveiled to the public in 2003. The diamond was also worn by TV actress Jenna Elfman at the opening of the “Splendor of Diamonds” exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Star of Africa Diamond: The Star of Africa, also known as the Cullinan I was until recently the largest cut and polished diamond in the world. It measures an amazing 530.20 carats. The Star of Africa was cut from the legendary Cullinan stone. The Cullinan was cut into nine smaller stones all of which are part of the Crown Jewels of the Tower of London. The Star of Africa is usually mounted in the Royal Scepter although it can be removed and worn as a pin or pendant.
Lesser Star of Africa: The Lesser Star of Africa is the sister stone to the Star of Africa also cut from the Cullinan Stone. Also known as the Cullinan II this stone measures 317.40 carats. The Lesser star of Africa is part of the Crown Jewels of the tower of London and is mounted in the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain. The stone also has two small loops that allow it to be worn as a brooch, by itself, or with the Star of Africa.
Star of the South Diamond: The Star of the South was the first Brazilian Diamond to achieve world recognition. It was found by a slave worker in a mine 1853. Her master freed her and also agreed to pay her an annual stipend. After passing through several buyers and sellers, the stone made its way to Amsterdam for cutting. The result is a stone that measures 128.42 carats and is a light pinkish brown color. The stone was displayed in the London Exhibit in 1862 and the Paris Exhibit in 1867, after which it was purchased for $400,000 as a gift for Sita Devi, the Maharani of Baroda. The stone was then purchased by Cartier in 2002 for an undisclosed sum.
Taylor-Burton Diamond: When the Taylor-Burton diamond was extracted from the Premier mine in South Africa it measured 240.8 carats and was purchased by Harry Winston. The diamond was cut into its final shape and sold to Mrs. Harriet Annenberg Ames. Mrs. Ames however felt it was too large to be worn in public and kept it in a bank vault for two years before deciding to auction it off. The diamond was auctioned off with the condition it would be renamed by the buyer. Cartier outbid Richard Burton for the stone, however, the two were able to work out a private deal and Burton was able to purchase the ring as a 40th birthday present for Elizabeth Taylor. In 1978 she put the ring up for auction with the proceeds going to fund construction of a hospital in Botswana. Henry Lambert purchased the stone but resold it to Robert Mouawad. Robert Mouawad had the diamond re-cut to 68.09 carats which improved the overall shape of the stone.
Tereschenko Diamond: While the Tereschenko Diamond was known to be in existence for 100 years, it wasn’t known by most of the world until it went on auction in 1984. It was part of the Tereschenko family as a loose stone until it was set in a diamond necklace by Cartier in 1915. Just after its completion and right before the Russian Revolution in 1916 the stone was removed from the country for safekeeping and eventually sold to a private collector. In 1984 the diamond was scheduled to go on auction at Christie’s. Many buyers were interested, however, because it had spent such a long time in obscurity many potential bidders wanted to have it certified by GIA. The diamond eventually went on auction and was sold for 4.5 million dollars to diamond collector Robert Mouawad.
Tiffany Diamond: The Tiffany Diamond is one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered. It was discovered at the Kimberlite mine in South Africa in 1878 and was originally 287 carats. After being cut and polished into a cushion shape, it measured 128.54 carats and was classified as a fancy yellow. The diamond is part of the collection at the Smithsonian Museum. The diamond is also part of the promotion material for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s featuring Audrey Hepburn.
Uncle Sam Diamond: The Uncle Sam Diamond was discovered in 1924 and it’s the largest diamond ever discovered in a mine in the United States. It was discovered in the Crater of Diamonds National Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. When discovered it was 40.23 carats. Then it was cut twice again. The final cut and polished stone was an emerald cut and measured 12.43 carats. The stone was sold in 1971 for $150,000.
Source: Abazias Diamonds