Famous, Historic and Notable Diamonds
One of my major interests is diamonds, and famous diamonds, and gemology in general. Since there really is no web page dedicated just to famous diamonds, I decided to make this one. This page is strictly for educational purposes. While I have hosted on at least one occasion a famous stone on condition of commission (this was a stone I'd host whether I got a commission or not, mind you) I normally make no profit off this page, and never intend to.
March—Aquamarine or bloodstone
June—Moonstone, pearl, or alexandrite (the latter of which changes colors depending on the type of light hitting the stone and in gem quality is considered more valuable than diamond)
August—Peridot or sardonyx
October—Opal or tourmaline
November—Topaz or citrine
December—Turquoise or zircon
The trouble with zodiac stones is the lack of consolidation -- no two lists seem to give the same stones, with the exception of garnet for aquarius and amethyst for pisces. Incidentically, if you were born in January between the 21st and 31st, your zodiac stone is the same as your birthstone. The same with February, those born on the 19th or later have the same birth and zodiac stone.
If you read any of the captions, you might wonder what a carat is. Gemstones are measured in carats (not carrot). 142 carats is equal to one ounce. The old carat measurement was slightly more than the new carat. When I say old, I mean several hundred years ago.
Gold purity is measured in karats. For instance, 24-karat gold means that 24 of the 24 parts of the metal are gold. 18 K means that 18 parts of the 24 are gold. (See the FAQ section.)
First, a little walk-through on the diamond subject so this page makes more sense. :)
The Four C's
Color Diamond color is graded on a scale of the alphabet, using letters D through Z. The letters A, B, and C aren't used. This is because when the Gemological Institute of America invented the scale they wanted to disassociate it from jewelry stores that used their own color grade scales. The colors D, E, and F are considered to be completely colorless. D is of course, the best. Some famous diamonds are actually leaning towards the Z end of the scale but aren't quite "Fancy colored", like the faint yellow 55-carat Sancy Diamond. The largest known D-color diamond in the world is the Centenary, which weighs 273.85 carats. The second largest is probably the Millennium Star, which weighs 203.04 carats. Some diamonds do not fit onto the scale, such as fancy colored diamonds. Diamonds occur in every color of the rainbow. The rarest colors are red and purple, and combinations of those two colors. Yellow and brown are the most common color of diamond, but colorless is the most popular as far as jewelry is concerned. (Colored diamonds are very gradually appearing in more and more jewelry stores as they become more well-known.) Blues and greens are very rare, especially naturally colored stones. Some lightly colored diamonds (light light pink, light light blue, ect.) are irradiated to make their color more intense. This means that low fields of radiation are beamed into the cut and polished stone, darkening the outer part of the stone all the way around. The process is permanent and professionally accepted in the diamond industry. Probably the largest irradiated diamond is the Deepdene, a 104.88-carat golden yellow cushion shaped stone.
The color scale for colorless to near-colorless diamonds.
A natural fancy colored diamond will cost you much much more than an irradiated one. Such well known diamonds as the Hope, the Dresden Green, the Tiffany Yellow, the Conde Pink, and Sultan of Morocco, the Transvaal Blue, the Wittelsbach, the Agra, and the Great Chrysanthemum are all very very unique because they were not irradiated. One remarkable stone, the Dresden Green, stands out amoung the naturals. It is the largest green diamond in the world at 40.70 carats. The fact it is an historic diamond, quite large and a natural green color with a slight blue overtone makes it virtually priceless. The Hope is also very unusual for the same reasons, but much more famous. The stone was originally a rather flat, blocky 110-carat rough. It was cut into a triangular pear of 68 carats, and then again into the 45.52-carat cushion cut it is today. The Conde Pink is a pear shaped 9.01-carat pink stone once owned by Louis XIII, also a naturally colored diamond. In January, 2002, I recieved an email from Terry J. Murray, in which he told me the following about a red diamond that had been auctioned off at Christies Auction House: "A rectangular-cut fancy red diamond of 0.73 carats sold for $536,000 per-carat." This was in a May 2nd, 2001 press release on the site. Thanks Terry! :)
In 1988, Sotheby's Auction House also sold a round, 0.90-carat, VS2 clarity, vivid green of natural color for $663,000 to an American collector. The per-carat price was over $736,000. This per-carat price is second to the 0.95-carat Hancock Red Diamond that sold also at Sotheby's for $880,000 (or $926,315 per-carat) on April 28, 1987. The stone is rumored to have been bought by a man representing the Sultan of Brunei, who is said to have one of the largest colored diamond collections in the world. On October 3rd, 2007, Sotheby's held a Magnificent Jewels & Jadeite sale in Hong Kong. The final lot in this sale, lot 1128, was a 6.04-carat Fancy Vivid Blue emerald-cut diamond with Internally Flawless clarity. It had an estimate of $35 to $45 million Hong Kong dollars, equal to $4,510,450 to $5,799,150 US dollars, at that time. In the sale, it ultimately sold for 61,927,500 Hong Kong dollars ($7,980,596 US dollars), setting a new world record for the highest price-per-carat paid for a gemstone: $1,321,290 per carat.
All in all, a colored diamond is going to cost more than a colorless one, but colorless diamonds will probably always be more popular in the market.
Clarity Diamond clarity is measured on a scale of I3 to FL. These are short for Imperfect 3 and Flawless. I3 (imperfect, eye visible inclusions), I2 (imperfect, eye visible inclusions), and I1 (imperfect, eye visible inclusions). I3 is the worst one the scale. It's so included that it looks like there is a cottonball trapped inside the diamond. Then higher up on the scale is SI2 (slight inclusions), and SI1 (slight inclusions). Many SI diamonds that are finely cut may look a lot better than their clarity calls for. VS2 and VS1 are the next on the scale, standing for very small inclusions. Both the Hope and the Tiffany Yellow Diamond are of VS1 in clarity. VVS1 and VVS2 stand for very very small inclusions. The 137-carat Light of Peace is a VVS1 in clarity and a D in color.
IF stands for internally flawless, and then FL, which stands for flawless. In your everyday jewelry store, an interally flawless diamond is unusual. D, E, and F-color diamonds are fairly common, especially smaller ones. A combination of D-color and Internally Flawless is rare, and therefore more expensive. The two largest faceted D-Internally Flawless diamonds that I know of are the 273.85-carat Centenary Diamond and the 203.04-carat Millenium Star Diamond. The largest Internally Flawless diamond is the Incomparable, which is a 407-carat Fancy Brownish-Yellow "triolette" shape. Flawless diamonds are quite rare. The highest grade one usually sees is Interally Flawless. You could search the world for a Flawless diamond but there wouldn't be much point -- an Internally Flawless would essentially be just as good. The only difference is an Internally Flawless diamond is allowed to have 'naturals', which are unpolished surfaces of the original diamond crystal still remaining on the finished gem. They are usually small and hidden from view on the pavilion side of the stone, up near the girdle. They tend to have a glassy (but not polished) look, sometimes showing 'trigons', which are triangular depressions characteristic of many diamond crystals. As long as that aren't visible in the face-up diamond, they don't affect the clarity grade. However, they can't be present in a diamond for it to receive a Flawless grading.
Cut There are many many different types of diamond cuts. The most common is the round brilliant, which has 57 facets. There are several very common variations on the round brilliant - the oval, the marquise, some cushion cuts, and the pear. All of which, in standard form, have 57 facets. Other very common diamond cuts are the heart, the step, and the princess. The sky is the limit as far as diamond cuts go. The last I heard, there are 255 registered diamond cuts.
However, the ones I just mentioned are the most common because some exotic cuts can waste rough stone. Heart cuts have become very popular the past few years, partly because of the booming diamond industry, and the film "Titanic", which featured a large heart cut blue sapphire that was thrown into the ocean. The movie prop was fake. However, after the film's release, a jewelry company faceted a heart cut sapphire identical to the stone in the film, then mounted it in a necklace to match. People often confuse the Hope Diamond and the 'Heart of Ocean' - both were blue, and both were surrounded by smaller white stones. However, one is a heart cut and the other a cushion, and the 'Heart of the Ocean' is considerably larger than the Hope Diamond. I am perpetually irritated by people confusing the Hope with the 'Heart of the Ocean.'
Carat-Weight Carat weight is the most deciding factor as to the value of a diamond. A well cut diamond of SI1 clarity and a weight of 4.00 carats would be worth a lot more than one of the same clarity, but weighing 1.60 carats and VS2 clarity.
The largest faceted diamond in the world is the Golden Jubilee, weighing 545.67 carats. It is a Fancy Brownish-Yellow color and "fire rose cushion cut." It is unusual also because it has a certain type of rare color banding. The second largest faceted diamond in the world is the Star of Africa, also known as the Cullinan I. It weighs 530.20 carats and is a pear shape with 74 facets. The third largest diamond in the world is the Incomparable. It is a golden yellow-orange color, pear shaped, and weighs 407 carats. The fourth largest faceted diamond in the world is the Cullinan II. It was cut from the same stone as the Star of Africa - aka Cullinan I. It weighs 317.40 carats and is a cushion cut.
Up until 2001, the most valuable diamond (price-per-carat) was the 0.95-carat fancy red Hancock Red that had been sold at auction at Christies, NYC, for $880,000 ($926,315 per-carat). The stone was apparently purchased by a buyer representing the Sultan of Brunei, who reputedly has one of the largest collections of fancy colored diamonds in the world. I am not exactly sure which diamond holds the world record for the highest price per-carat, but I am almost certain its no longer held by the Hancock Red. Time will tell!
The American Star
The Archduke Joseph
The Beau Sancy
The Black Orlov
The Blue Empress
The Blue Heart (sometimes called the Eugénie Blue)
The Blue Lili
The Blue Magic
The Briolette of India
The Condé (Sometimes called the Condé Pink or Le Grand Condé)
The De Beers (and the recently rediscovered Patiala Necklace)
The DeYoung Red
The Dresden Green
The Earth Star
The Florentine (replica cut by Scott Sucher)
The Golden Jubilee
The Golden Maharaja
The Graff Pink Surpeme
The Great Chrysanthemum
The Heart of Eternity
The Idol's Eye
The Indore Pears
The Iranian Yellows
The Kahn Canary
The La Favorite
The Millennium Star
The Mouawad Lilac
The Mouawad Magic
The Mouawad Mondera
The Mouawad Pink
The Mouawad Splendour
The Moussaieff Red (formerly known as the Red Shield)
The Orlov (sometimes spelled 'Orloff')
The Pink Orchid
The Pink Sun Rise
The Porter Rhodes
The Premier Rose
The President Vargas
The Queen of Holland
The Red Cross
The Rob Red
The Royal Purple Heart
The Russian Crown Jewels (Includes the Shah Diamond - the Orlov was moved to its own section, see above)
The Shah Jahan Table Cut
The Spirit of de Grisogono
The Spoonmaker's (also known as the Kasikci)
The Star of America
The Star of South Africa
The Star of the East
The Star of the Season
The Star of the South
The Steinmetz Pink
The Steinmetz Sirius
The Sultan of Morocco
The Supreme Purple Star
The Tiffany Yellow
The Tiffany Yellow II
The Transvaal Blue
The Vainer Briolette
The Victoria (sometimes called the Jacob)
The Zale Light of Peace
Noteworthy Unnamed Diamonds
The Chopard 201 Watch
Unnamed 200-carat brownish-yellow pear-shaped diamond Cut by the William Goldberg Company.
The Graff Unnamed Asscher Cut Diamond ring As seen in their ads in the New York Times.
The Graff Unnamed Blue (Not to be confused with the Graff Imperial Blue, a stone which I am still researching)
The Graff Unnamed Cushion Cut Diamond ring Also seen in their NY Times ads
An Unnamed 81-carat Emerald Cut D-VS1 Diamond
An Unnamed 63-carat Oval D-FL Diamond
An Unnamed 56-carat Pear-Shaped D-IF Diamond
An Unnamed 37-carat Cushion-Shaped Fancy Light Yellow Diamond
An Unnamed 20-carat Fancy Vivid Yellow Oval Brilliant Diamond
An Unnamed 27-carat Pear Shape Fancy Dark Yellowish-Brown Diamond
Major Pieces of the Diamond Collection of Janice H. Levin
A Letter from Gabrielle Tolkowsky I wrote to him via good old-fashioned "snail mail" around Thanksgiving of 2001. This was his reply. :)
CZ replica of the Porter Rhodes
CZ replica of the Tiffany Yellow
CZ replica of the Jonker (pronounced 'Yonker')
A replica of the Porter Rhodes Diamond, and a replica of the Tiffany Yellow Diamond, both cut from cubic zirconia. I got them from NW Diamonds & Gems. I had the Porter Rhodes replica set in a silver pendant and gave it to my grandmother in November of 2003. The Tiffany Yellow replica is so large that I am going to have to make my own setting for it from scratch. It will be fun! :) The stone measures 28 × 28 mm, so it would be futile to try and find a setting to hold a cushion-shaped gem that size. NW D&G had one other replica of the stone, identical to mine, but it sold. They have a batch of orangey-yellow replicas now, but I think their color is too distant from that of the actual Tiffany Yellow. In April, 2004 I got a replica of the Jonker from them, pictured above. The stone was intended to be a replica of the Portuguese Diamond but when the replicas arrived, they turned out to be much more like the Jonker in proportions.
A group of multi-colored diamonds A group of three blues, three browns, two yellows, and an orange. Big file.. 250k.
Another group of multi-coloreds Yellows, browns, some blues, oranges, and several more shades, totalling 21 diamonds.
The Texas Faceters Guild along with a few other people scattered around the world are working on retro-engineering famous diamond facet layouts into Gemcad so replicas of them can be cut. Of the diamonds they have already 'completed', among them are the Hope, Dresden Green, Incomparable, the nine Cullinan Diamonds, the Florentine, and several others. I have a number of these Gemcad files, if you would like any/all of them, please email me at ragemanchoo (at) hotmail.com
Famous Diamond Replicas These stones were cut out of cubic zirconium by Scott Sucher. The photo is © Lapidary Journal and is not to be reproduced. Many of the diamonds shown in this photo are shown elsewhere on this page. The stones in this picture are Cullinans I through IX, the Tiffany Yellow, the Dresden Green, the Hope, the Sancy, the Dudley (aka Star of South Africa), the Pasha, and the Florentine. Since the 2001 publication of this article, much new information has come to light about many of the diamonds shown in the image, and Scott has since recut many of them to perfect accuracy. Please contact www.lapidaryjournal.com if you'd like to subscribe to their magazine or ask them any questions. If you need cubic zirconium rough, try some of the following sites (Morion and Megalogs also sell YAG material, and Morion has photos of many of the rough and cut CZ they offer):