Famous Diamonds of the World

By: Donna Terra
There are many sayings that go along with diamonds. 'Diamonds are a girl's best friend' and 'diamonds are forever' are some of them. There is no doubt that diamonds are popular, with people all over the world flocking to buy these precious stones. But what is it about diamonds that give them such huge commercial appeal? Here is a list of some of the most famous diamonds in the world, and some of the lucky (or unlucky) people who have worn them.

The Cullinan Diamond:

The Cullinan Diamond is, at 3,106.75 carats, the largest diamond ever found. This diamond was found in the Gauteng region of South Africa, and is now kept with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. This spectacular gem was discovered in 1905 at the Premier mine in South Africa by Frederick Wells, a mine superintendent. While walking through the mine one day he noticed something gleaming on the side of the wall. What he originally thought was a massive piece of glass was actually a huge diamond.

Wells received $10,000 for his discovery. The diamond was named Cullinan after the owner of the mine, Sir Thomas Cullinan. The stone was cut by Joseph Asscher, who examined it for 6 months before determining how to divide it. He eventually cut it into 9 major and 96 smaller brilliant cut stones. The Great Star of Africa, or the Cullinan 1, is the largest cut diamond of the Cullinan, and the largest cut diamond in the world. It boasts 530.20 carats and is housed in the Tower of London.

The Blue Hope Diamond:

The Hope Diamond is one of the most spectacular diamonds in the world. But with its beauty comes a long history of legends and myths, one of them being that the diamond itself is cursed. According to legend, bad luck and death will befall anyone who touches the diamond. But whether you believe in the curse or not, the Hope Diamond has for centuries intrigued people by its unique beauty.

The diamond has had a rich history, starting with being owned by King Louis XIV, stolen during the French Revolution, sold for gambling money, and eventually donated to the Smithsonian Institution, where it still resides today.

The Regent:

Boasting 140.50 carats, the Regent has a reputation for being the most beautiful diamond in the world. It was discovered in India in 1698 and was acquired by Thomas Pitt, the Governor of Madras, who sent it to England to be cut. In 1717 the Regent purchased it from Pitt for the French Crown.

It adorned many of the rich and famous, including the band of Louis XV's silver gilt crown, Louis XVI's crown, the hilt of the First Consul's sword, and on the crown at the coronation of Charles X, as well as during the Second Empire on the 'Grecian diadem' of the Empress Eugenie. Today it can be seen at the Louvre in Paris.

Darya-ye Noor:

The Darya-ye Noor, Persian for 'Sea of Light', is one of the largest and most beautiful diamonds in the world. It weighs a whopping 182 carats and is a rare pale pink colour, one of the rarest to be found on diamonds. At present, it forms part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, and is considered one of the oldest diamonds in the world.

The diamond was mined at the Golconda mines in Andhra Pradesh in India, where it became the possession of the mughal emperors. In 1739 Persia invaded India and sacked Delhi and came into possession of the Darya-ye Noor. The treasure he garnered was carried to Persia by Nader Shah, where the Darya-ye Noor has remained ever since.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond:

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond is one of the largest fancy yellow diamonds in the world. When it was discovered in 1878 in Kimberley, South Africa, it weighed 287.42 carats. It was cut into a cushion shape of 128.54 carats with 90 facets to maximize its brilliance.

After its discovery it was purchased by famous New York jeweler Charles Tiffany. The gem was studied for a year before it was cut, reducing it from 287 carats to its current size. The gem was on loan from Tiffany and Co. to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C and was on display up until 23 September 2007. This beautiful and unique diamond was worn by only 2 women in its life, one of them being famous Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn.

The Dresden Diamond:

This classic diamond weighs 41 carats and probably came from India. Its exact history is unclear. The Dresden is a pear shaped diamond with a beautiful emerald-green colour.

The Sancy:

The Sancy is a beautiful 55 carat and is cut in a pear shape. This stone has been cut over five hundred years ago. According to legend, it was worn by Charles the Brave in the 1470's. It was bought on the open market in 1570 by Signeur de Sancy, after who the diamond is named. The stone has belonged to the Astor family of London since 1906.

The Koh-i-noor:

This diamond has a long and controversial history. Legend has it that it was first acquired in 1304 from an Indian family who owned the stone for generations. It is also said that the stone's history begins in 1526, while other conflicting reports state that the stone was mined near the Krishna River and given to an emperor in 1656. More factual evidence states that the diamond was first mined in India but then stolen in Delhi in 1739 and taken to Iran.

From Iran it was acquired by Afghans, who then lost it to Indian rulers. These Indian rulers can under British rule in 1849 and placed the diamond among the crown jewels. The Koh-i-noor's first cut was a 191 carat irregular shaped gem with little fire, contrary to its name which means 'mountain of light'. It was later recut to enhance brilliance and fire, reducing it to a 109 carat, shallow, oval brilliant cut.

The Shah Diamond:

This diamond originally stems from India and weighs 88.70 carats. It has the names of three monarchs engraved on it, including the Shah of Persia, after which it was named. Today it can be found in Kremlin in Moscow, where it has been since 1829 when it was given as a gift to Tsar Nicholas. It is partly polished along its cleavage planes.

The Nassak Diamond:

The Nassak Diamond first weighed over 90 carats. The diamond is named after the Temple of Shiva near Nassak. In 1818 the English looted the temple and in 1927 the stone was recut in New York. This diamond has been in private possession in the USA ever since. The stone has a rounded corner triangle shape.

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