The Blue Heart Diamond
The Blue Heart Diamond dates back to 1909 when it was originally cut by French jeweler Atanik Eknayan of Paris from a 100.5 carat rough blue diamond. The jeweler cut the diamond into a 30.62 heart-shaped brilliant cut diamond. The diamond was set in a pendant and originally purchased by French jeweler Pierre Cartier in 1910, then acquired by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1953 and by Harry Winston in 1959 who mounted it into a ring with 25 brilliant cut diamonds. Mrs Marjorie Merriweather bought the ring from Winston in 1960 and gifted to the Smithsonian Institute in 1964 where it remains to this 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.
At that time it was said to weigh 793 carats, but through some incredibly ham-fisted cutting and polishing by a jeweler named Borgio it was reduced to 186 carats. This further reduced it from 186 carats to its present size of just less than 109 carats.
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.
It 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.
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 16
white 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.” 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 color 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”. It remains there to this day.
Pink and green diamondsare 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.