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 collection but 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 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.
4 de Fevereiro Diamond/Creation 1 Necklace
In a remarkable journey from mine to masterpiece, de GRISOGONO reveals the Creation I necklace featuring a 163.41 carat emerald-cut diamond, the largest of its kind in the world. On the 4 February 2016, in Angola a 404.20-carat diamond was discovered. Baptised the “4 de Fevereiro”, it is the largest diamond ever found in Angola and the 27th biggest in the world.
Since it first saw the light of day, this huge, billions-of-years-old diamond has been on an 18-month voyage, during which it was transformed from a 404.20-carat rough into a 163.41-carat emerald-cut D Flawless Type IIA diamond, set into a suitably magnificent necklace designed by Fawaz Gruosi, founder and creative director of de GRISOGONO.
The Creation 1 necklace has the 163.41-carat diamond as its centerpiece, the asymmetric necklace features on one side a riviere of baguette-cut diamonds ascending from around 0.5 to 8 carats set in chain-like structure that drapes around the neck. On the other side, close to 6,000 lush green emeralds shroud the goldwork to create a shimmering spectacle from which 66 pear-cut emerald
drops are suspended. The 163.41-carat diamond can be removed and set into future creations, to be determined by the new owner.
The Art of de GRISOGONO, Creation 1, is currently on a world tour. It will then be auctioned on Tuesday, 14 November 2017 at 7pm GMT by Christie’s at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues, Geneva.
UPDATE: This sold for CHF 33,500,000 ($25,716,281).
The Sherman Diamond
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman met with Khedive (Viceroy) Isma’il Pasha, ruler of Egypt, on a trip in 1873, and offered advice on the restructuring of his military. In 1874, as a thank you for his service, the khedive sent to Sherman’s eldest daughter (Maria “Minnie” Sherman), on the occasion of her wedding to Lt. Thomas Fitch, a “souvenir” that was a magnificent diamond necklace with matching earrings. In 1878, the necklace and earrings were divided equally amongst Sherman’s four daughters and reset by Tiffany & Co. into four pendants and four pairs of earrings, each of equal value but made in different styles. The diamond pendant in the National Gem Collection, known as the Sherman Diamond, is an 8.52ct pear-shaped diamond surrounded by 15 round diamonds, graduating in size and suspended from a bail with two additional diamonds. The stone is near colourless but does have many large black inclusions. The Sherman Diamond stayed in the family and was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1987 by Cecilia McCallum Bolin in memory of her mother, Mary Sherman McCallum.
During a press conference on 17th October 2017 the Government of Sierra Leone announced that it will be auctioning a 709-carat rough diamond that was discovered in the West African country in March 2017. The diamond, the 14th largest ever discovered, has been named the Peace Diamond because its sale on 4 December 2017 in New York will bring significant economic benefit to the region of Sierra Leone in which it was found, where many people live in extreme poverty.
Discovered in river sediment by artisanal miners in the village of Koryardu, it is thanks to the honesty of Pastor Emmanuel Momoh, the legal owner of the gem, that the Peace Diamond is heading to auction.
The Rapaport Group are responsible for the marketing of the gem. Approximately 50% of the proceeds of the sale of the diamond will go to the government while the remaining 50% will benefit the local community in the Kono district, which has an estimated population of 250,000. But what, exactly, is the value of the Peace Diamond? In the press conference it was announced that it has not yet been properly analysed because it is too large to fit inside the HD scanning equipment! No reserve price has yet been published, but what is known is that the government has already received an offer of $7.777 million, which it has refused.
Rapaport say “We believe in the positive energy of the Peace Diamond and the great good it will do for the people of Sierra Leone. This is a diamond that makes the world a better place. This is a diamond with spiritual sparkle.”
The Rapaport Group based in New York, which is responsible for the marketing and sale of the gem, has partnered with the government of Sierra Leone on a pro bono basis. Approximately 41% of the proceeds of the sale of the diamond will go to the government while the remaining 59%, or $3.8 million, will benefit the local community in the Kono district, which has an estimated population of 250,000.
Commenting on the purchase, Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds said: “It is an honour to have acquired this magnificent rough diamond – and that its sale will directly benefit a country in desperate need. It is always special to be able to give back to the places that provide us with these beautiful stones.
Who knows the story that the Peace Diamond will tell in years to come. At this moment, the story of this diamond marks an important chapter for the people of Sierra Leone.”
The Nepal Diamond
“The Ageless Diamond” exhibition sponsored by Christie’s and De Beers in London in 1959 showed few exhibits as breath-taking as this pear-shaped diamond, weighing 79.41 metric carats, mounted as a pendant with a diamond chain. Little is known about its early history, though it is believed to have been found in the in the alluvial diamond fields in the vicinity of Golconda. This fine Indian diamond went to Nepal from where it gained its name. It remained in Nepal for several generations, passing from one ruler and potentate to another.
In 1957 Harry Winston purchased the Nepal from an Indian dealer, and had it slightly recut from its original weight of 79.50 carats. After “The Ageless Diamond” exhibition he sold the diamond to a European client. It was set as a pendant to a V-shaped diamond necklace that also contained 145 round diamonds weighing a total of 71.44 carats.