Weight: 3106ct rough
Origin: Transvaal, South Africa
The Cullinan, the largest gem-quality diamond ever found, was discovered at the Premier Mine on 26th January 1905. The rough diamond was nearly flawless and named the Cullinan in honour of Sir Thomas Cullinan, the founder of the Premier Mine, who was visiting that very day. Louis Botha, premier of the Transvaal, persuaded his government to buy the diamond for approx. US $1 million and presented it to England’s King Edward VII as a token of thanks for granting Transvaal its constitution.
The Cullinan was handed to Amsterdam’s House of Asscher to polish. The diamond was divided into nine significant gemstones, 96 smaller stones and about 19.5cts of unpolished pieces. The two largest gems were kept for England’s regalia, and the rest went to Asscher as payment. King Edward bought one of the significant gems for his consort, Queen Alexandra. The Transvaal government purchased the remaining stones and pieces and presented the other six tremendous gems to Queen Mary in 1910. Two of the small stones were presented to Louis Botha, who gave one to his daughter when she turned 17.
STAR OF AFRICA
Weight: 47.75ct polished, 83.50ct rough
Shape: Pear Shape Brilliant
Origin: Zandfontein Farm, South Africa
At 530.20 carats the Cullinan I or Star of Africa diamond is the largest cut diamond in the world. Pear-shaped, with 74 facets, it is set in the Royal sceptre (kept with the other crown jewels in the Tower of London). It was cut from the 3,106 carat Cullinan, the largest diamond crystal ever found. The Cullinan was discovered by Frederick Wells, a mine superintendent in Transvaal, South Africa in 1895 on an inspection tour of the Premier Mine. The Cullinan was cut by Joseph Asscher and Company of Amsterdam, who examined the enormous crystal for around six months before determining how to divide it. It eventually yielded nine major and 96 smaller brilliant-cut stones. When the Cullinan was first discovered, certain signs suggested that it could have been part of a much larger crystal, but no discovery of the ‘missing half’ has ever been authenticated.
Shape: Oval Brilliant
Colour: Dark Blue
Clarity: Reported Flawless
Origin: Unknown but believed to originate from India
Widely considered to be the most famous diamond in the world, the Hope Diamond received its name from Henry Thomas Hope and was discovered centuries ago in the southern region of India. Long before the fabled bad luck associated with its owners, the Hope Diamond has an illustrious history. It was believed to have a great mystical power that surrounded this unusual size and unique colour, a deep indigo blue. The Hope was reputedly used to adorn the statue of a Hindu idol.
In 1642, the famous Blue Tavernier Diamond from Europe was in the hands of King Louis XIV who had it cut to bring out its brilliance. Later, the diamond was discovered stolen during the French Revolution. For many decades, the Hope Diamond could not be found. It was rumoured, according to legend, jewelers and thieves had previously acquired the stone. Some say, those who owned the blue stone, had some bad luck associated with them wherever they went.
At the turn of the century, in 1911, the diamond was purchased by a young American socialite heiress named Evalyn Walsh McLean who bought the Hope Diamond from Cartier for US$185,000. This gift was given to Evalyn by her husband Ned, who owned the Washington Post and Cincinnati Enquirer newspapers. After some time, Evalyn became convinced that the real power of the Hope Diamond came from the joy and awe which filled the faces of those who gazed upon it. Mrs. McLean was the longest private owner, and she owned the diamond for 36 years until her death in 1947. Harry Winston purchased the Hope Diamond from her estate in 1949, and nine years later it was given to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Weight: 273.85ct polished, 599ct rough
Shape: Pear Shape
Origin: Premier Mine, South Africa
The Centenary was found on 17th July 1986 by the electric X-ray recovery system at the Premier Mine. Only a handful of people knew about it, and all were sworn to silence. In its rough form, it resembled an irregular matchbox with angular planes, a prominent elongated horn jutting out at one corner and a deep concave on the largest flat surface. The shape of the stone expressed problems in cutting with no apparent solution.
De Beers unveiled the Centenary Diamond, the world’s second largest modern-cut flawless diamond, on the company’s 100th birthday in 1988. At 273.85 carats, this stone is remarkable for its numerous facets: 164 on the stone and 83 on the girdle. The stone was cut from a 599ct flawless rough diamond and was found in the renowned De Beers Group Premier Mine, birthplace to many other famous diamonds such as the Cullinan and the Heart of Eternity. The Centenary is the largest modern fancy cut diamond in the world and the only one to combine the oldest methods – such as kerfing – with the most sophisticated modern technology in cutting.
THE MILLENNIUM STAR
Weight: 203.04ct polished, 777ct rough
A near perfect diamond, weighing a magical 777 carats in the rough, falls into the hands of an alluvial digger from a small village. He approaches a De Beers diamond buyer stationed nearby and sells the magical stone.
After several years of deliberation, the cut is decided, yielding 203.04 carats of stunning, internally and externally flawless pear-shaped stone. It is the second largest faceted D-Flawless diamond in the world; the 273.15 carat Centenary Diamond is the first. The Millennium Star is arguably the most beautiful diamond in the world, and one which experts have declared priceless.
The Millennium Star is the centrepiece of the company’s Limited Edition Millennium Diamonds collection, which further consists of 11 highly unusual blue diamond’s cut into a variety of shapes, having a total weight of 118 carats.
Weight: 108.93ct rough
Shape: Brilliant Cut
This diamond was discovered around the 13th century but only received the name Koh-I-Noor in 1739 when a Persian conqueror, Nadir Shah, took Delhi and acquired the diamond. He named it Koh-I-Noor meaning ‘Mountain of Light’. The diamond was given to Queen Victoria in 1850 and weighed 186ct. In 1852 it was cut into a Round Brilliant weighing 108.93ct. The diamond has been used in the crowns of various Kings and Queens and is currently on display in the Tower of London.