Most people are familiar with the Hope Diamond, the Taylor-Burton and the Tiffany Diamond. Each of these top billed stones have widely known tales that accompany their easily recognizable names. This is primarily a result of their massive sizes, distinguished cuts and stunning interior qualities (or just really good publicists). There are, however, a whole legion of just-under-the-radar diamonds with dynamic yarns to tell. Here are a few of the more memorable stones to grace the international gem stage and dazzle us with their brilliance. …Only from the slighter cheaper seats.
Deepdene Diamond – one would assume that this monstrous stone (weighing in at 104.88 carats) would have garnered a little more positive press over the years. However, its reputation is tainted with more infamy than fame. A wealthy couple by the name of the Boks were the first people to possess the diamond; they eventually sold it off to diamond jeweler juggernaut Harry Winston. As with many massive gems, it changed hands a few more times, galavanting through various regions of Europe and eventually landing in Germany. It then went up for auction at the esteemed Christie’s house and was relinquished to the highest bidder: Van Cleef & Arpels. Imagine their chagrin when, after having the diamond evaluated and tested, it was revealed that it underwent irradiation (the ‘fake tanning’ of the diamond world). Indeed, it’s lovely yellow hue was fabricated. VC&A got a refund on the canary stone and now it resides…somewhere. Yes, that’s right; it’s missing. The issue of “How do you lose a 104 carat anything?” may be the most pressing question yet regarding this mysterious gem, which makes this list primarily for its ‘fake bake’ qualities.
Eureka Diamond – much like being the first person to comment on an Instagram pic or tweet about something that Millennials find noteworthy, this gem is known simply because it was the first diamond discovered in South Africa. Achieving pioneer status in a country now synonymous with diamonds has got to be worth something, right? The stone is not that huge; it’s a 10.73 ct, ‘smoky cut.’ The diamond made its first public appearance in 1867 at the world renowned Paris Exhibition. Prior to that it had been sitting in the desk drawer of Erasmus Jacobs, the young gentleman who found this thing in the dirt and presumably decried “Eureka!”
The Grand Duke of Tuscany – aside from having the name of an Italian nobleman, this diamond is not necessarily that regal in nature and comes with quite the politically polarized past. Once quantified at a whopping 137.27 carats, it seems odd (yet again) that it would eventually disappear into thin air. The original legend associated with this stone is that it belonged to the famed Medici family; Ferdinando II de’ Medici, to be specific, who held the title of Grand Duke of Tuscany (a rather modest moniker). It would eventually make its way to Austria during the 19th century. As the Austrian empire crumbled at the tail end of World War I, the diamond was smuggled into the conveniently neutral Switzerland by the fleeing Imperial family. Sometime during 1918 the precious yellow/green stone was purloined and has yet to turn up again. Conjecture that it now resides in either South Africa or the USA is simply that. Odds are in favor that it was cut up into a bunch of more diminutive stones, to avoid detection; a fancy yellow diamond engagement ring in your possession just may be a descendant of this once lusted after gemstone (…but most likely not, don’t be insane).
The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond – brown diamonds have seen an ebb and flow in popularity since their initial discovery. This florally named stone is no exception, and with a beautiful pear cut (at the hands of noted New Yawk City cutters S&M Kaufman) and hefty 104 carat weight, it only stands to reason that it’s a genuine B-Lister because its brown hue is just not all that desirable. This lovely dirt/excrement colored stone is stashed away somewhere in a private collection, its certain whereabouts unknown.
Hortensia Diamond – deriving its nomenclature from the dashing Dutch queen who donned the stone, Hortense de Beauharnais, this diamond has been in royal hands for the better part of its natural life. In the possession of Marie Antoinette for a spell, it was removed from her around the time things were falling apart in France …when she just seemed to lose her head. A random dude named Depeyron pilfered the pretty pink gem and was about to undergo a similar fate when he blurted out where it was stashed before they freed his face from the rest of his body. Later, the lilliputian despot Napoleon would favor the diamond and wear it attached to his cute little outfits. The stone, when compared to others of note, is relatively small; 20 carats – but is still talked about because of its involvement in many historic milestones. It’s also got a huge crack in it, further securing its second-rate fame status.
The Incomparable Diamond – having a name like this, you’d think this gold toned diamond would be more widely known. It really isn’t an ironic or exaggerated tag either, as it held the title of 4th biggest uncut diamond for a significant while. In the mid-1980’s, with Reaganomics and Devo surging, the stone was cut down to a triangular/oval shape, retaining a still staggering weight of 407.48 carats. This golden goose egg then experienced a PR blunder that would forever tarnish its previously brilliant reputation. In 2002, it strangely debuted on eBay. It’s listed reserve price of 15 million quid would go unmet, permanently cementing this colossal and unfortunately undesired diamond into the B-List.
Nizam Diamond – here’s another diamond that had great potential to become one of the world’s most recognizable, but lost status because it, well, became lost. At one point this was India’s pride and joy, with uniquely cut irregular facets and a thunderous 277 carat measurement. The notoriously nifty Nizam family held the diamond for generations, but during the tumultuous wartime of the 1830’s, the gorgeous stone pulled a Keyser Soze and vanished forever.
The Ocean Dream – sometimes size does matter. This diamond should have experienced a lot more fame due to it being truly one of a kind. It is the only naturally occurring Blue-Green diamond ever discovered anywhere in the galaxy (*Mars results still pending). Radiation from the earth’s core, which cooked this guy for millions of earth-years, are the root of its world renown color. The only problem? It weighs in at 5.51 carats; hardly a weight class anyone cares about – thus turning the Ocean Dream into a publicity nightmare. While aesthetically inspiring, it seems it may also have been carelessly named, as its moisture invoking title, if you really think about it, sounds a bit naughty.
Rob Red Diamond – fancy vivid red diamonds are the rarest diamonds that exist; so why isn’t the fanciest, most vivid, reddest diamond ever discovered the most famous? One simple answer; the Rob Red was born to a similar fate as the Ocean Dream – it’s tiny. In fact, it’s about one-tenth the size of the Dream, measured at 0.59 carats. Hardly a blip on the radar of the gem appreciating public, who ravenously crave ginormous stones, this diamond is quite highly regarded in the somewhat insular world of diamond professionals. There it is viewed as a true and natural work of art (bottom line; unless you’re a gemologist or jeweler, this Red is Robbed of fame).
Spirit of de Grisogono Diamond – why in the Savior’s name is this diamond not on the A-list? It’s the largest black diamond ever produced; originally mined in South Africa with a weight of 587 carats, and finally cut down in Switzerland to 312.24 ct. This singularly splendorous gemstone needs to immediately get the recognition it so sorely deserves. Please Snapchat your congressperson.
The Lesser Star of Africa ( Cullinan II ) – well it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that this diamond is a B-Lister; just its name alone condemned it to a lifetime of mediocrity. Known as the ‘sister stone’ to the Star of Africa (that has to be demeaning), this 317.40 ct stunner would have been an actual star in its own right if it didn’t have to play Jan Brady to the substantially larger Cullinan 1 (530.20 ct). Family dynamics can be rough.
Tereschenko Diamond – this comely Cold War relic was most likely relegated to B-list classification due to its communist roots. Belonging to the Russian Tereschenko clan, this 42.92 carat fancy blue stone was just rolling around loose until 1915, when Cartier delicately placed it into a necklace for the family. Too bad the Russian Revolution was just around the corner, and none of the pretty Tereschenko comrades got a chance to wear the new sparkling cerulean jewelry. It was spirited out of Russia, to prevent it from becoming stolen, and sold to an unnamed collector. It randomly resurfaced in 1984 at a Christie’s auction and sold to hotshot Saudi collector Robert Mouawad (a big name in diamond hoarding) for 4.5 million rubles, er, dollars. That’s the last anyone has heard of the Tereschenko. До свидания (goodbye) fame!