A cut above: 10 of the largest gem quality diamonds in the world
Throughout history there has been incredible diamond finds. Here we take a look at 10 of the largest cut diamonds across the world
Over the last two months, two rough diamonds have accumulated over $100million in sales. Lucara Diamonds sold its 813 carat ‘Constellation’ diamond for a record $63.1 million, while the 1,109 carat Lesedi la Rona is expected to smash that record with a predicted $70million later this year.
These diamonds are still in rough form, once the they are cut there’s no telling how much they could bring.
But what are the largest cut diamonds on record? Here we take a look at the 10 of the world’s largest gem cut diamonds.
10 – The Millennium Star Diamond – 203.04 carat
Discovered in Mbuji-Mayi, Zaire in 1990, the rough diamond weighed 777 carats. Cut down to 203.04 carats and dubbed the ‘Millennium Star’ to coincide with the turning of the millennium, its unveiling was part of De Beers Millennium Diamonds collection.
Famously, the diamond was subject to a failed robbery attempt in 2000.
With its true value unknown, the chairman of De Beers Company said of the diamond: “Millennia come and go, but diamonds are forever.”
9 – The Red Cross Diamond – 205.07 carat
During an innocuous fund raising sale, on behalf of the British Red Cross Society, a group of diamond specialists presented an enormous 205 carat ‘canary’ diamond.
To no surprise, the diamond later known as the Red Cross diamond, sold for £35,575.
With the exact origins a mystery – it is said to have been discovered in De Beers mine in 1901 weighing close to 375 carats - the diamond has spent the best part of 30 years in and out of the spotlight.
Once believed to be owned by a European royal, then turning up in the US sometime later, the diamond recently appeared at a Tokyo auction in 1973, and Switzerland in 1977.
8 - The De Beers diamond – 234.65 carats
One of the first diamonds found in the De Beers Consolidated Mines in Kimberley, South Africa, in 1888, the diamond has seemingly vanished into thin air.
In 1929, it was featured in the Maharaja of Patiala’s crown jewels – forming a ceremonial necklace. It was one of 2,930 diamonds.
Amazingly, in 1947, the abolition of the Patiala Raj with India’s independence saw the necklace disappear. The true whereabouts of the diamond are unknown, despite remnants of the necklace appearing, sans many of the diamonds, in a second hand London jewellery shop in 1998.
7 – The Jubilee diamond – 245.35 carats
The Jubilee diamond was discovered in South Africa in 1895. When first discovered, the 650.8 carat rough diamond was named the Reitz diamond after the President of the Orange Free State, F.W.Reitz. The ‘Jubilee’ name came from when it was presented to Queen Victoria during her Diamond Jubilee in 1897.
The diamond was later purchased at an exhibit by the industrialist and philanthropist, Sir Dorabji Jamestji Tata, where it remained until his death in 1932. Inherited and sold by The Cartier’s Jewellery firm, the Jubilee Diamond has been exhibited around the world, even returning to South Africa in the De Beers Diamond Pavilion.
Today, the Jubilee diamond is owned by international jeweller Robert Mouawad, of Mouawad Jewellers.
6 – The Centenary Diamond – 273.85 carats
The Centenary Diamond was discovered in De Beers’ Premier Diamond mines in July, 1986, but it wasn’t unveiled to the world until March 1988 – two years later.
The plan was to unveil the diamond during a celebration of De Beers Consolidated Ltd.’s 100-year anniversary. The diamond was rather aptly named the Centenary Diamond.
Cutting the rough diamond took 10 months, with thirteen different designs presented before completion in 1991, with the final heart shape design unveiled to the world.
Following its inauguration, the Golden Jubilee Diamond was insured for $100 million – but it’s true value has never been evaluated.
Where is the Golden Jubilee Diamond today? Through a policy of anonymity, De Beers has never disclosed this information.
5 – The Spirit of de Grisogono Diamond – 312.24 carats
First discovered in the Central African Republic, the Spirit of de Grisogono weighed in at 587 carats. The name represents the black diamond cutting specialist De Grisogono.
It took a year to cut down the rough diamond into the 312.24 ‘Moghul-cut’. This was then set on a white gold ring mounting with 702 smaller white diamonds, an additional 36.69 carats.
Like many of the diamonds on this list, the whereabouts of the Spirit of de Grisogono remain unknown. There were rumours that the founder of De Grisogono jewellers sold the diamond but no confirmation has ever been given.
4 – The Cullinan II Diamond – Lesser Star of Africa – 317.4 carats
The largest ever rough diamond to be discovered in the world at 3,106 carats, the Cullinan diamond was found in the Premier diamond mines of Transvaal, South Africa on January 26, 1905.
During a mine inspection, superintendent Frederick Wells happened upon the diamond a few feet above his head –18ft underground.
The name stems from Sir Thomas Cullinan – founder of the Premier diamond mine.
Purchased by King Edward VII, the diamond was cut into nine gems, with 96 smaller pieces. The Cullinan II was mounted on the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain, as worn by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Crown Jewels, including the Cullinan II Diamond, can be viewed on display in the Tower of London.
3 – The Incomparable Diamond – 407.48 carats
How ironic that a diamond titled ‘the incomparable’ isn’t the largest diamond in the world.
What is incomparable though, is the discovery of the diamond. Like many others, it too was found by accident. In the 1980s, in Mbugi Mayi, Democratic Republic of Congo, a girl playing at her uncle’s house spotted something in a rubble dump from a nearby MIBA mine. When she showed it to her uncle, he realised this was a large diamond and sold it to local dealers.
Eventually the diamond moved into the hands of the Zale corporation before going up for auction in 1988. The auction fell through after the $20 million reserve price wasn’t met.
Rumours persist that the diamond made appeared on eBay, in November 2002, for £15 million but the diamond didn’t sell.
2 – The Cullinan I – Star of Africa – 530.20 carats
The biggest of the Cullinan diamonds was ordered by King Edward VII to be mounted on top of the Sovereign’s Sceptre where it still sits today within the crown jewels.
During transportation from South Africa, detectives were ordered to protect the diamond. This was a fake - the real diamond was sent via postal delivery in an everyday box.
When presented with the diamond, the king was convinced to accept by the future Prime Minister – Winston Churchill, who was given a replica as a token of gratitude.
The pear shaped diamond was formed in a way that would allow it to sit at the top of the sceptre, or be removed and worn as part of a brooch.
1 – The Golden Jubilee Diamond – 545.67 carats
To date, the largest faceted cut diamond in the world. The Golden Jubilee diamond was first discovered in 1985 in the Premier diamond mines of Transvaal.
Most diamonds are named after the mine company in which they are found, or of a founding father, the diamond was simply named – the unnamed brown diamond.
It wasn’t until 1997 when presented to King Bhumbibol of Thailand that it was renamed The Golden Jubilee.
The unnamed brown diamond is believed to have been used for testing diamond cutting technology and techniques, using the expertise and guidance of Gabi Tolkowsky.
Taken to Thailand for exhibition by Thai Diamond Manufacturers Association, the diamond was purchased by a group of dealers in 1995 – with a plan to present it to the Thai King two at his coronation.
The Golden Jubilee Diamond, blessed by Pope John Paul II, Supreme Buddhist Patriarch and Supreme Muslim Imam of Thailand, features in the Thailand Crown Jewels.
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