At Diamond Lighthouse, we’re fascinated by diamonds and the role they play in history. As tokens of love or spoils of war, humans have fought, paid for and even died for these precious gems. At Diamond Lighthouse, we hear fascinating stories about diamonds every day. Whether your diamonds tell the story of a grand adventure or a touching romance, we’d love to hear it. Or, if you’re looking for your next adventure, Diamond Lighthouse can help you sell your old diamonds and embark on the next great chapter in your life story. Every diamond has a story and to prove it, we’ve collected the stories behind 10 of the most famous diamonds in the world.
10. The Millennium Star
Owned by the De Beers diamond company, this completely flawless 203.04-carat pear-shaped diamond is the second largest D-color stone in the world. It was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (then called Zaire) in 1990 and took three years to be cut into its classic pear shape. Displayed in the De Beers Millennium Jewels Collection in 1999, the diamond was the target of an attempted diamond heist. De Beers security learned of the planned robbery and replaced the Star with a replica as a precaution. A move that turned out to be unnecessary as the would-be thieves were caught and arrested before they could get their hands on either the real diamond or the replica.
9. The Heart of Eternity
Cut from the same stone as the Millennium Star, this 27.64-carat heart-shaped “fancy vivid blue” gem is part of an extremely rare class of diamonds. The Premiere mine, where the stone was found, is the only diamond mine in the world with a significant amount of blue diamonds, but even there they only account for .1 percent of the mine’s output. Though it was on display with its sister stone during the failed diamond robbery of the De Beers Millennium Jewels Collection, the company won’t say who owns the Heart now. A recent exhibition at the Smithsonian stated the diamond was on loan from a private collector, leading some to speculate that it was purchaced during De Beers’ exhibition.
8. The Orlov
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Said to be over 300 carats when it was found, the exact history of the Orlov (sometimes spelled “Orloff”) is a debated topic. It’s reported to have been used as an eye in a religious statue in the Temple of Srirangam in India. The legend says that it was stolen by a French deserter who fled to Madras where he would find a buyer. The stone eventually ended up in Amsterdam where it was purchased by Russian Count as a gift for Catherine the Great. Though Catherine didn’t return Orlov’s affections, she named the stone after him and had it incorporated into her Imperial Scepter. The Orlov is now held in the Diamond Treasury of Russia in Moscow.
7. The Krupp Diamond
Later called the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, this 33.19-carat stone was given to the actress by her fifth husband Richard Burton. The stone is an internally flawless Asscher-cut diamond with a large cutlet facet that Burton purchased for Taylor at an auction for $305,000. Worn as a ring, Taylor called the diamond her favorite piece and wore it in every film she made after receiving it. The Krupp diamond became an essential part of her image and was renamed The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond after the actress’s death in 2011.
6. The Golden Jubilee Diamond
At 545.67 carats, the Golden Jubilee Diamond is the largest cut and faceted diamond in the world. It was cut from a large 775.5-carat brown diamond found in the Premier Mine in South Africa in 1985. De Beers gave it to renowned diamond cutter Gabriel Tolkowsky to test special tools and cutting methods to be used on colorless diamonds. The diamond was purchased in 1995 by Henry Ho of Thailand and blessed by Pope John Paul II. The Golden Jubilee is now part of the crown jewels in the Royal Thai Palace and is valued at $4-12 million.
5. The Tiffany Diamond
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
One of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered, the Tiffany Diamond weighed 287.42 carats when it was found in the Kimberly mine in 1878. It was purchased by New York Jeweler Charles Tiffany, who had it cut into a 128.54-carat cushion shape with 82 facets. In 2007, Tiffany & Co. loaned the diamond to the Smithsonian National Museum for five months. During that time, it was the largest diamond on display in the United States. Two women have worn the Tiffany Diamond. The first was the wife of former U.S. Minister Sheldon Whitehouse at the Tiffany Ball in 1957, where it was mounted on a necklace of white diamonds. The second person to wear it was Audrey Hepburn in publicity photographs for 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
4. The Taylor-Burton Diamond
You can’t have a list of famous diamonds and include only one of Elizabeth Taylor’s. Also given to her by Richard Burton, this pear-shaped 69.42-carat diamond was originally owned by Harriet Ames, who felt it was too big to be worn in public. It was sold at auction to Robert Kenmore, owner of Cartier, for $1,050,00 and has since become known as the first million-dollar diamond. Burton purchased it from Cartier for an undisclosed amount to give to Taylor for her 40th birthday. Taylor initially wore the diamond as a necklace, but the stone was set in a ring by the time it appeared in an episode of Lucille Ball’s Here’s Lucy. Taylor and Burton guest-starred in the episode, which saw Lucy trying on the diamond ring and getting it stuck on her finger. After Taylor and Burton’s divorce, Taylor auctioned the diamond off for $5 million and used the money to build a hospital in Botswana.
3. Koh-I-Noor (The Mountain of Light)
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Now part of the British Crown Jewels, this 105.6-carat oval-cut diamond dates back to 1304. Back then, it weighed over 186 carats and was the largest cut diamond in the world. One of the most coveted spoils of war, the Koh-I-Noor was fought over by Indian and Persian rulers for centuries. When England took control of the region, the British East India Company claimed the diamond and presented it as a gift to Queen Victoria. The Queen had the diamond recut and wore it as a brooch. Queen Alexandra had it set in the State Crown and to this day, the Koh-I-Noor remains in the Tower of London with the other Crown Jewels.
2. The Great Star of Africa
The Cullinan I, or Great Star of Africa, is a massive 530.4-carat diamond cut into a pear shape with 74 facets. It was originally part of the Cullinan diamond, which at 3106.75, remains the largest gem-quality diamond ever found. The Cullinan was discovered in the Premier No. 2 Mine in 1905 and sent to England to be cut by Joseph Asscher. The Great Star of Africa is the largest gem cut from the raw Cullian diamond, and was the largest cut and polished diamond in the world until the discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond in 1985. Though originally set in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross, it has also been worn as a pendant. It’s currently located with the rest of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
1. The Hope Diamond
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Probably the most famous diamond in the world, the Hope Diamond is a deep blue 45.52-carat diamond that glows red after exposure to ultraviolet light. The Hope Diamond has probably the most macabre reputation of any diamond on this list. It was purchased by King Louis XIV who commissioned the court jeweler to recut it, and named it the Blue Diamond of the Crown of France. Only worn for ceremonial functions, the diamond was rarely seen until it was given to Mary Antoinette, and we all know where she ended up. The diamond was stolen during the French Revolution and disappeared until 24 years later when it was sold to an English banker named Henry Hope. Hope’s son then inherited the diamond, but went bankrupt and was forced to sell the diamond. Pierre Cartier acquired the diamond in 1910 and sold it to Evelyn McLean. Shortly afterwards, McLean’s only child was killed, her family broke up and she went bankrupt before committing suicide. New York diamond merchant Harry Winston bought the stone in 1949, but many of his clients refused to touch the diamond, given its history. It’s currently on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and has an estimated value of $200-250 million.
Every diamond has a story and we at Diamond Lighthouse would love to hear yours. Or, if you feel you’d like to begin a brand new tale, Diamond Lighthouse can help you sell your old diamonds and make sure you get the most money possible, making it easier for you to begin your next grand adventure.
Coming Soon: The Best Way To Sell A Wedding Ring: Just Might Surprise You!