The Blue Heart Diamond
The Blue Heart Diamond the Blue Heart Diamond’s claim to fame is its stunning rare deep blue colour, its heart shape, and its large size: an impressive 30.62 carats. The Blue Heart is ranked the world’s fifth largest blue diamond.
For a while it was believed that the stone originated in India, where many diamonds used to originate from. However, in recent years it was discovered that the Blue Heart was actually found in South Africa in November 1908. At the time, the magnificent diamond weighed an astounding 102 carats in the rough, and was later cut and polished by French jeweller Atanik Eknayan of Parisinto the diamond we now recognize as the Blue Heart. After the renowned French cutting firm cut the blue beauty, it was sold to Cartier’s, where it was placed in a corsage called “Lily of the Valley.” The corsage was
bought by Mrs. Unzue where it remained until 1953.
The jewelry firm Cleef & Arpels bought the jewel, and it was they who disassembled the corsage and turned the diamond into a brilliant pendant surrounded by 25 colorless diamonds.
A European family then purchased the diamond pendant along with the necklace for a total of $300,000. Harry Winston got hold of the precious gem in 1959 and had it set in a platinum ring only to have it sold to Marjorie Merriweather Post.
The Blue Heart stayed with Mrs. Post until the 1960s when she decided it was time to donate the treasure to the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC where it has been on display till this very day.
The Koh-i-Noor Diamond
The Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) is a 109 carat diamond that was once the largest known diamond in the world. Some say that the Koh-i-Noor was originally found more than 5000 years ago. Historical evidence suggests that the Koh-i-Noor originated in India one of the world’s earliest diamond producing regions.
Up until 1304 the diamond was in the possession of the Rajas of Malwa, but back then, the diamond was still not named Kohinoor. In 1304, it belonged to the Emperor of Delhi, Allaudin Khilji.
In 1339, the diamond was taken to the city of Samarkand, where it stayed for almost 300 years. In 1306 in a Hindi writing, a curse is placed on the men who will wear the diamond: “He who owns this diamond will own the world, but will also know all its misfortunes. Only God, or a woman, can wear it with impunity.”
In 1526 the Mogul ruler Babur mentions the diamond in his writings, Baburmama. The diamond was gifted to him by the Sultan Ibrahim Lodi.
The Persian general Nadir Shah went to India in 1739.It was him the one that gave the diamond its current name, Koh-i-noor meaning “Mountain of light”. But Nadir Shah did not live for long, because in 1747 he was assassinated and the diamond got to one of his generals, Ahmad Shah Durrani.
A descendant of Ahmad Shah, Shah Shuja Durrani brought the Koh-i-noor back to India in 1813 and gave it to Ranjit Singh (the founder of the Sikh Empire). In exchange Ranjit Singh helped Shah Shuja get back the throne of Afghanistan.
The British colonial officials found the Koh-i-noor in 1849, in the treasury of the Punjabi capital, Lahore, India. It was later seized by the British as a spoil of war and it became part of the British crown jewels when Queen Victoria became the ‘Empress of India’ in 1877. The Queen Mother’s crown with the Koh-i-Noor is currently preserved in the Tower of London.
A said previously is believed that the Koh-i-Noor carries with it a curse and only when in the possession of a woman will the curse not work. All the men who owned it have either lost their throne or had other misfortunes befall them. Since Queen Victoria the diamond has always gone to the wife of the male heir to the throne.
The Millennium Star Diamond
The Millennium Star is a diamond owned by De Beers. At 203.04 carats, it is the world’s second largest known, internally and externally flawless, pear-shaped diamond.
The diamond was discovered in the Mbuji-Mayi district of Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1990; uncut, it was 777 carats. It was purchased by De Beers during the height of the country’s Civil War that took place in the early to mid-nineties. It took over three years for workers of the Steinmetz Diamond Group to produce the classic pear form. The actual cutting was done using lasers.
It was first displayed in October 1999 as the centerpiece of the De Beers Millennium diamond collection. They were displayed at London’s Millennium Dome in 2000. There was an attempt on 7 November 2000 to steal the collectionbut the Metropolitan Police discovered the plot and arrested the robbers before their escape. Crime journalist Kris Hollington wrote a book called Diamond Geezers about the attempted theft.
The Hope Diamond
The Smithsonian is home to the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond, the world’s largest deep blue diamond. The gem has a long and mysterious past—and some people even think it is cursed! The 45.52 carat steel blue Hope Diamond was found in India back in remote times as a rough crystal weighing 112 carats. Scholars believe that King Louis XIV of France bought the Hope Diamond in 1668. After King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette attempted to flee France in 1791 during the French Revolution, the diamond was turned over to the French government. The next year it was stolen.
It wasn’t until 1812 in London that the diamond appeared again. Though evidence indicated it was the same stone, there is no way to be completely sure. It passed through several owners before an American heiress named Mrs. Evalyn Walsh McLean brought it to the United States. She added its current setting—it is now surrounded by 16white diamonds and hangs on a chain of 45 diamonds.
After Mrs. McLean died, jeweler Harry Winston bought the diamond and donated it to the Smithsonian. And how did he send it? Winston simply placed the priceless diamond in a plain brown paper wrapper and sent it by registered first-class mail. He said, “It’s the safest way to mail gems. I’ve sent gems all over the world that way.”
In 2010, a new temporary setting, “Embracing Hope,” was designed by Harry Winston Inc. and unveiled and placed on public display Nov. 18. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Hope Diamond’s
donation to the museum in 1958 and the 100th anniversary of the museum.
The new platinum setting surrounds the legendary deep-blue diamond with an extraordinary 340 baguette diamonds totaling 66 carats. It will be on display for a limited time, after which the Hope will be returned to its historic setting.
Today the Hope Diamond is one of the most visited museum objects in the world. And is it really cursed? Most curators don’t believe so. In fact, the Smithsonian has always looked at the Hope Diamond as a source of good luck!
The Dresden Green Diamond
The Dresden Green Diamond has a remarkable color, by any standards. No one knows where or when it was first discovered or what the rough diamond that produced it might have weighed. The Dresden Green first appeared at the Leipzig (Germany) Fair in 1743. A Dutch gem merchant sold it to Fredrick Augustus II of Saxony for $150,000. Very few diamonds share the unusual almond-shaped cut this gem enjoys and the rich green color is so intense, it has seldom been seen in natural diamonds. It weighs 41 carat and is more noteworthy because of its colour and history, rather than its size. The Dresden Green was fitted into a shoulder knot of braided silk and soon took a place of significance within the crown jewels of Saxony.
The crown jewels of Saxony were kept on display in the “green vaults” in the royal palace of Dresden, Germany. When Dresden was captured, after bombing raids by allied forces during World War II Dresden fell within the Russian occupied zone and the royal jewels were confiscated along with other art treasures and carried off to mother Russia.
In 1958, an agreement was reached that returned art treasures and gems, captured as war reparations, to Germany and the Dresden Green once again resided within the “green vaults”.
During 2000-2001, the Dresden Green was showcased in the Harry Winston Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. By 2004, Dresden’s Palace was also restored along with its Green Vault. This meant that the royal jewels (along with the Dresden Green) were officially “home”, and have remained for public display up to this day.
Pink and green diamonds are considered very rare. Any diamond that possesses an “intense” color is typically more valuable that it’s colorless counterpart. The Dresden Green has an intense and vivid green color, caused by natural atomic radiation, not often matched in other diamonds. This unusual color makes it especially beautiful.
The Regent Diamond
In 1698, a slave found the 410 carat uncut diamond in a mine in India and concealed it inside a large wound in his leg. An English sea captain stole the diamond from the slave after killing him and sold it to an Indian merchant. Governor Pitt acquired it from a merchant in 1701. Because of Pitt’s ownership it is sometimes known as the Pitt Diamond. Pitt bought the diamond for £20,400 (£2,964,490 as of 2012), and had it cut in to a 141 carats cushion brilliant.
After many attempts to sell it, it was purchased by the French Regent, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans in 1717 for £135,000 (£18,634,090 as of 2012). The stone
was set into the crown of Louis XV for his coronation in 1722, into a new crown for the coronation of Louis XVI in 1775, and used to adorn a hat belonging to Marie Antoinette. In 1791 its appraised value was £480,000 (£46,922,530 as of 2012). In 1792 during the revolutionary furor in Paris, “Le Régent,” as the diamond came to be known, was stolen along with other crown jewels of France, but was later recovered, after being hidden in some roof timbers in a Paris attic.
Napoleon Bonaparte aquired it in 1801 and in 1812 it appeared on the Emperor’s two-edged sword. Napoleon’s second wife carried the Régent back to Austria upon his death. Later her father returned it to the French Crown Jewels.
The diamond was mounted successively on the crowns of Louis XVIII, Charles X and Napoleon III. Today, mounted in a Greek diadem designed for Empress Eugenie, it remains in the French Royal Treasury at the Louvre. It has been on display there since 1887.
The Taylor Burton Diamond
Elizabeth Taylor’s pear shaped diamond, also known as the Taylor Burton diamond, has an amazing history. This famous gem started out as a rough stone weighing in at an amazing 241 carats. It weighed in at 69.42 carats when purchased by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The Taylor Burton diamond was sourced from the Premier Diamond Mine where other notable stone such as Cullinan and Golden Jubilee were found. Discovered in 1966, the massive rough stone was cut into a 69.42 carat pear-shaped gemstone by none other
than Harry Winston.
Harriet Annenberg Ames, sister to billionaire publisher Walter Annenberg, purchased the diamond in 1967. She had it mounted in a platinum ring embellished with two smaller side diamonds. Because she felt overly conspicuous wearing the massive stone in her native New York City, she made the decision to sell it.
The stone was put up for auction on October 23, 1969. When Elizabeth Taylor heard about the upcoming sale, she had to see it, so went to New York for the auction. Taylor’s husband, Richard Burton, had set his maximum bid at $1 million but despite Burton’s efforts, Cartier jewellers won the auction. Some bidders included Harry Winston, Aristotle Onassis, and the Sultan of Brunei. The final price was $1,050,000, which translates to about $5.75 million in 2015 US currency.
This sale beat all previous diamond prices by miles: The previous record price for a diamond was set in 1957, at just $305,000. A proviso of the original auction stated that the diamond’s buyer got the privilege of naming it. Naturally, the stone was christened as the Cartier Diamond.
Cartier jewellers didn’t own the gem for long though. When Richard Burton found out that he had been outbid, he was livid. He later wrote of his response in his diary, stating that “I was going to get that diamond if it cost me my life or 2 million dollars, whichever was the greater. For 24 hours the agony persisted and in the end I won. I got the bloody thing. “
The next day, the diamond was sold to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor for 1.1 million dollars. It was named “The Cartier-Burton Diamond” for a short time, but soon gained fame as the “Taylor Burton Diamond,” as Elizabeth Taylor was the one who would be wearing it. Soon after receiving the famous diamond, Elizabeth Taylor decided that it was too large to be worn in a ring. She had it placed in a necklace instead.
Burton and Taylor divorced twice. After the second split, Elizabeth Taylor’s pear shaped diamond was sold to New York jeweller Henry Lambert, for an estimated 5 million in 1978. This translates to about 18.9 million in 2015. Part of the sale’s proceeds funded the construction of a new hospital in Botswana.
In 1979, Lambert sold the Taylor Burton diamond to Robert Mouawad, of the Jewellers Mouawad. He has retained ownership ever since.