Wednesday 23 April 2014

"Big girls need big diamonds" - Elizabeth Taylor

Diamonds have a long history of being objects of desire, its not only the largest of diamonds that command the highest prices, smaller but rarer coloured diamonds are also sold for millions of pounds. Some have interesting stories including robbery, mysteriously disappearing or even carrying a curse. Here are a  selection of famous Diamonds, in no particular order, but starting with the famous Taylor Burton Diamond.

Taylor Burton Diamond - 
this 68.09 carat, pear shaped diamond was cut from a rough stone weighing 240.80 carats found in the Premier Mine, South Africa in 1966 and bought by New York jeweller Harry Winston. The stone was taken to New York and studied for six months before it was cleaved into 2 pieces; one weighing 78 carats and the larger piece, weighing 162 carats, was destined to produce the pear shaped diamond. 1967 Winston sold the diamond to Mrs. Harriet Annenberg Ames, two years later she sent the diamond to Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York to be auctioned. It was Cartier who won the bidding against Richard Burton, however he was determined to buy it for Elizabeth so negotiated and bought the diamond directly from Cartier. Following their divorce she sold the diamond in 1979 to Henry Lambert, a New York jeweller for $5,000,000. A few months later he sold the stone to its present owner, Robert Mouawad who had the stone recut to improve its status from VVS2 to IF (Internally Flawless) but reducing its size slight from 69.42 to 68.09 carat.

The Taylor Burton Diamond

The Blue Hope - 
this diamond has the reputation of bringing bad luck to those who owned it but now sits safely at the Smithsonian Museum. It has an interesting story including theft, recutting, going missing after the French Revolution and then turning up in England, you can read in full hereIt is also known as "Le Bijou du Roi" (the King's Jewel), "Le bleu de France" (the Blue of France), and the Tavernier Blue. It is 45.52-carat deep-blue diamond, 25.60 mm long x 21.78 mm wide x 12.00 mm deep, graded as "fancy deep grayish blue" VS1with whitish graining present , the cut is described as being "cushion antique brilliant with a faceted girdle and extra facets on the pavilion"
The blue is caused by trace amounts of boron within its crystal structure, it also exhibits red phosphorescence after exposure to ultraviolet light.
The Blue Hope Diamond

The Pink Dream Diamond -
(formerly known as the Steinmetz Pink, then the Pink Star) is currently the world's most expensive diamond after it was sold in November 2013 for £51.7million to Isaac Wolf - a New York diamond cutter. It is a flawless, 59 Carat, Mixed Oval Brilliant cut, Natural Colour, Fancy Vivid Pink diamond, measuring 2.69cm by 2.06cm and weighing almost 12g. The Pink Dream was mined by De Beers in South Africa in 1999.
The Pink Dream Diamond

The Archduke Joseph Diamond - 
when this diamond sold for $21 Million in November 2012, Christies auction house set a record for a colorless diamond sale. It is a 78.54 Carat, Cushion cut, D-Internally Flawless diamond. Discovered in the Golconda mines in India, diamond was named for Austria's Archduke Joseph August, the great-grandson of a Roman emperor and a French king. The anonymous buyer reportedly plans to donate the diamond to a museum.
The Archduke Joseph Diamond

The Cullinan Diamond - 
is the largest gem diamond ever found at 3,106 carats. It was discovered in 1905 at the Premier mines in South Africa by Frederick Wells, a mine superintendent who received $10,000 for his find. The diamond was named Cullinan, after the mine's owner Sir Thomas Cullinan. The Cullinan I was the largest gem produced from the rough stone. It is a pear shaped stone of 530.2 carats and is the world's largest cut diamond. The Cullinan I is now in the head of the royal sceptre in the British crown jewels. The second largest cut diamond, the Cullinan II, is a cushion-shaped stone weighing 317.4 carats and is set in the British imperial state crown.
Cullinan Rough Pieces
The Cora Sun Drop Diamond - 
this extremely rare yellow diamond was found in South Africa by Cora International, it was sold at auction in Geneva in November 2011 for just over $10.9m (£6.8m) and set a world record for a yellow diamond. It is a 110.3 carat pear-shaped, Fancy vivid yellow diamond. Tests show that the diamond was formed from 1 to 3 billion years ago and the colour is the result of traces of nitrogen, trapped within carbon molecules, hardening over millions of years.
The Sundrop Diamond

Moussaieff Red Diamond - 
Imagine how happy the Brazilian farmer was who found the the rough diamond weighing 13.9 carats (2.78 g) in the Abaetezinho river in 1990. The diamond was purchased and cut by the William Goldberg Diamond Corp and known originally as the Red Shield. It was sold again in about 2001 for $11m to Shlomo Moussaieff, an Israeli-born jewellery dealer in London and is currently owned by Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd. It is 5.11 carats (1.022 g) triangular brilliant cut or trillion cut, IF (internally flawless) rated in color as Fancy Red. Although its not a very big diamond it is the largest of a very rare colour.
Moussaieff Red Diamond

Tiffany Yellow Diamond -
the most famous diamond found at the Kimberley Diamond Mine - one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered; it weighed 287.42 carats (57.484 g) in the rough, 128.53 carats (25.706g) after cutting.The stone was purchased by New York jeweller Charles Tiffany. The cutting was carried out in Paris by a 23 year old George Kunz who studied the stone for a year before cutting it. He added  additional facets to the accepted square antique brilliant cut - bringing the total to 82. The diamond is known to have been worn by only two women - Mrs Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball held in Newport, Rhode Island, mounted for the occasion in a necklace of white diamonds. Then by Audrey Hepburn in 1961 publicity photographs for Breakfast at Tiffany's.
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

Koh - i - Noor - 
this is an ancient diamond with much history attached to it and because of the number of competing claims, true ownership cannot be established and it remains in the Tower of London as property of the British Crown. Even its true date of discovery in unknown but it is known to have come from one of the earliest regions in the world to produce diamonds; the Golconda Kingdom in India.  It was originally 793 carats when uncut. This diamond has never been sold but possession gained in the course of rebellions, wars, invasions and uprisings. You can read more here. In 1849 the British confiscated the Koh-i-noor Diamond as compensation for the Sikh wars. The diamond was recut from 186 carats to 109 carats to improve its brilliance as the original Mogul-cut wasn't brilliant to western eyes. In 1992 the diamond was weighed and found to be 105.602 carats and not the 108.93 carat previously recorded. The Koh-i-Nor  measures 36.00 × 31.90 × 13.04 mm. It is currently set in the Maltese Cross at the front of the crown made for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and can be seen in the Tower of London.
These are replicas of the Koh-i- Nor made in 1851 before it was re-cut.
They can been seen in the Vault at the Museum of Natural History

The Dresden Green - 
discovered in 1722 it is the largest of the very rare natural green diamonds, 41 carats, named after Dresden in Germany. After initially failing to find a buyer due to its hight cost the diamond was eventually acquired by Frederick Augustus II of Saxony (Augustus III of Poland) in 1741. In 1768, the diamond was incorporated into the hat ornament in which it still appears today. The stone's green colour is due to natural exposure to radioactive materials. The Dresden Green Diamond has been used to compare natural versus lab-produced green diamonds to devise a test to differentiate between the two. It can be seen at the restored Green Vault (or the Grunes Gewolbe) of Dresden Castle ( the original buildings were destroyed by the Dresden bombings in WW2) luckily the diamond and setting along with other treasures had been moved to secure premises for the duration of the war.
The Dresden Green Diamond

More to follow in a future blog...

I just want to mention the Aurora Pyramid of Hope Collection that is on permanent loan to the Natural History Museum and can be seen in the Vault. This is a collection of 296 naturally coloured diamonds that adds up to 267.45 carats of exceptionally rare stones from the 12 colour varieties of diamonds.
Aurora Pyramid of Hope
named after the colours exhibited in the Aurora Borealis 

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