Famous Diamonds

Even those with little interest in diamonds know that certain stones are famous (or infamous) for their beauty and value. Here's a rundown of a number of some of the better known diamonds and the captivating stories behind them.

The Black Orlov:


A 67.50-carat, cushion-cut diamond, the Black Orlov is named black but actually is akin to the color of gun metal. Like the story behind the famous Hope diamond, legend has it that the Black Orlov was an uncut black stone of 195 carats, pried out of the eye of the statute of the sacred Hindu God Brahma from a temple in Southern India.

The diamond turned up in Russia, where it was bought by Princess Nadia Vyegin Orlov. It was purchased in 1947 by Charles F Winson who sold it to an unknown buyer in 1969 for $300,000. After changing hands several times, the diamond was purchased by an anonymous buyer in the late 20th century for $360,000.

The Blue Hope Diamond:


The Hope Diamond is the largest deep blue diamond in the world, measuring 45.52 carats. Mined in India, its dimensions are 25.60mm in length, 21.78mm in width and 12mm in depth. The story goes that the stone was stolen from an eye of a statue of the goddess Sita in a Hindu temple. The temple priests put a curse on anyone who possessed the stone—the famous "curse" of the Hope Diamond. Legend has it that this spiritual revenge was the cause of the beheadings of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Although the curse of the Hope Diamond is, needless to say, subject to dispute, there are certain facts about the magnificent stone that are undeniably credible. The first known precursor to the Hope Diamond was the Tavernier Blue diamond, a 112-carat stone named for the French merchant and traveler Jean-Baptiste Tavernier who obtained the blue diamond during one of five voyages to India in the mid 1600s. Tavernier sold the diamond to King Louis XIV of France. In 1812, a blue diamond with the same shape, size, and color was reported as being owned by London diamond merchant Daniel Eliason. After changing hands several times, the Hope Diamond was bought by diamond merchant Harry Winston in 1949. Winston donated the diamond to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in 1958, where it remains.

The Donnersmarck Diamonds:


These are two yellow diamonds, named after their one time owner Henckel von Donnersmarc. One, a baguette-shaped diamond weighing 102.54 carats, was sold for $3.246 million. The second, tear drop in shape and weighing 82.48 carats, was sold for $4.666 million.

The Dresden Green:


Named after the German city, this diamond is pear-shaped and weighs 40.70 carats. The Dresden Green is considered the largest and finest natural green diamond ever discovered. One feature of note is that the green color is almost uniformly distributed throughout the diamond, a very rare attribute. It is believed the Dresden Green came from India in the early 18th century.

The Graff Pink:


One of the largest and most famous pink diamonds, the Graff Pink is named after its current owner, diamond dealer Laurence Graff. The fancy pink stone weighs 24.78 carats. The diamond has been evaluated as type IIa, which means it's virtually flawless, putting it in the top two per cent of the world's diamonds. The Graff Pink is said to have received its color from absorbing light in an unusual way while it formed beneath the earth over millions of years. The Graff Pink is the most expensive stone to be sold at auction, commanding an extraordinary $46 million.

Heart of Eternity:


This 27.64 carat heart-shaped stone is famous for the intensity of its color, described as "fancy vivid blue." The Heart of Eternity was one of 11 rare blue diamonds unveiled in 2000 as part of a special collection of De Beers Millennium Jewels.

The Moussaieff Red:


Among the rarest of colored diamonds, the Moussaieff Red is a triangular 5.11-carat diamond. It is the largest red diamond in the world. It was acquired in the early 21st century by Moussaieff Jewelers Ltd. for $8 million. The diamond was discovered by a farmer in the Alto Paranaiba region of Brazil during the 1990s.

The Peacock:


This is a 20.65-carat, Fancy Intense Yellow stone. The diamond was purchased by C.D. Peacock, a Chicago jewelry store.

The Pumpkin Orange:


Like their red counterparts, orange diamonds are among the most rare colors in the world. The Pumpkin Orange is a 5.54-carat, cushion-shaped diamond. The diamond was mined in South Africa in 1997. The name likely derives from its purchase date–Oct. 30, 1997, only one day before Halloween, by Ronald Winston, at a Sotheby's auction for a price of $1.3 million.

The Red Cross Diamond:


The cushion-shaped, 205.07-carat canary yellow Red Cross came from the Kimberly mine in South Africa. The diamond was given to an art sale held by Christies London in 1918 on behalf of the British Red Cross Society. The identity of its present owner is unknown.

The Rob Red:


The pear-shaped, 0.59-carat Rob Red diamond has been described by a fancy color expert as the purest red diamond in the world. It's named after its owner, Robert Bogel.

The Royal Purple Heart:


The heart-shaped, 7.34-carat Royal Purple Heart diamond is the largest Fancy Vivid Purple diamond known. Discovered in Russia, the diamond is named for its color and shape, both of which are unique for this stone. Its owner is unknown.

Star of South Africa:


A 47.69-carat pear-shaped diamond, this stone was discovered in South Africa in in 1869. Up until then, only India and Brazil were considered to be serious sources of diamonds.

The Sun Drop:


This stone was certified as "fancy vivid yellow," the most rare and desirable color for a yellow diamond. Its sale price set a world record for a yellow diamond. The stone was discovered in South Africa in 2010.

The Supreme Purple Star:


This diamond is unique in that its exact weight, color and clarity have never been revealed. From one angle the diamond appears to have a deep purple color but the color changes to a purplish red when rotated. It is believed to have originated in the Amazon basin.

The Tiffany Yellow:


Reportedly discovered at the Kimberley mine in South Africa in 1877, with a rough weight of 287.42 carats, the Tiffany Yellow is one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered. It was acquired by Charles Tiffany for $18,000 in 1879. Audrey Hepburn wore the diamond in 1961 for the publicity photographs for the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's."


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