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Top 5 most famous Diamonds

By Frank

Highly experienced diamond polisher who loves to share his knowledge with you. Continues to stun his colleagues with interesting - or simply bizarre - facts about diamonds and gems.

March 1, 2016

Every time we see someone wearing a huge diamond, we tend to gasp. This top 5 most famous diamonds known to mankind will surely make you rub your eyes too. Yes, they are THAT big and shiny! 

1. The Great Star of Africa – Carats: 530.20

The Great Star of Africa on black background
The Great Star of Africa goes by many names. The most famous ones are “the Cullinan I” and “Star Africa”. This stone is the largest (polished) diamond in the world. It is pear-shaped with 74 facets. Nowadays, the diamond is on display. It is in the Royal Scepter, displayed with other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London. This diamond was actually a part of the largest diamond crystal ever: the 3,106.75 Cullinan diamond. This stone was found in Transvaal, South Africa, in 1095 during an inspection tour of the Premier Mine. Mr. Joseph Asscher from Amsterdam cut Cullinan. But only after he examined the massive diamond for nearly six months. Eventually, he decided on nine major and 96 smaller brilliant-cut stones. Upon being initially discovered, certain signs suggested that the Cullinan was a part of an even larger crystal. However, the other missing part was never found.

2. The Orloff – Carats: 300

The Orloff Diamond mounted in scepter
This slightly blueish green diamond comes from India. It is an exceptionally pure diamond. The diamond is a Mogul-cut rose shaped diamond. Currently, it is in the Diamond Treasury of Russia in Moscow. According to common belief, this diamond was the diamond eye of the Hindu god Vishnu’s Idol, in the sanctuary temple in Sriangam. But in the 1700s, a French deserter stole it. In fear of retribution, the desterter only dared to dig out one eye. Therefore, the other eye remained in the statue. When he finally got the diamond out, the deserter traveled to Madras. Here he sold it for 2,000 pounds to an English sea captain.

Over the years, the blueish diamond found its way to Amsterdam where Grigori Orloff, a Russian Count, was residing. He was the ex-lover of Empress Catherine the Great. He bought the stone for 90,000 pounds and brought it to Russia for Catherine. Orloff named the stone after himself. Catherine mounted the stone in the Imperial Sceptre. In exchange for the Orloff, she gave a marble palace to her friend Grigori. Unfortunately, the stone could not help Grigori to win Catherine’s love. Heartbroken, he died in 1783. In 1812, the Russian people hid The Orloff diamond in a priest’s tomb. They feared Napoleon was about to enter Moscow. Supposedly, Napoleon found the Orloff and was about to claim it when a priest’s ghost appeared and cursed his army. And Napoleon scampered away without the Orloff.

3. The Centenary Diamond – Carats: 273.85

The Centenary Diamond
Discovered at the Premier Mine in July 1986, the Centenary Diamond originally weighed about 599.10 carats. Master cutter Gabi Tolkowsky and his team took nearly three years to transform it into the largest, most modern-cut, flawless, and top-color diamond. The Centenary has 247 facets. 164 of them are on the stone and 83 over its girdle. On the whole, it weighs 273.85 carats. The diamond was unveiled in May 1991 at the Tower of London.

4. The Regent – Carats: 140.50

the regent diamond (picture: louvre)
Although The Regent is by far not the biggest diamond, its perfect cut and limpidity make it stand out – and very valuable. The stone was initially discovered in 1698 in India. A man named Thomas Pitt, the Governor of Madras, acquired it and sent the diamond to England for cutting purposes. The diamond was sold to the Regent in 1717 for the French Crown. It was first fixed on the band of Louis XV’s silver coronation gilt crown in 1722. After they put it on Louis XVI’s crown in 1775. A few decades later, in 1825, Charles X wore the diamond on his coronation crown. During the Second Empire, they put the diamond on the “Grecian diadem” of Empress Eugenie. Currently, the Regent is at the Louvre in Paris.

5. Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) Carats: 105.60

The Koh-I-Noor Diamond
This oval cut diamond is a part of the British Crown Jewels. The “Mountain of Light”, has a history that dates back to 1304. This is the diamond with the longest history of all the famous diamonds. It was the Rajahs of Malwa that captured the diamond in the sixteenth century. Later on, the Mogul Emperors acquired the diamond and placed it in the famous Peacock Throne.

After the end of the Persian empire, this diamond reached India. After a long history of moving from one emperor to the other, the British East India Company took the Koh-I-Noor. They presented it to Queen Victoria in. They say the diamond weighed nearly 1986 carats upon coming from India. However, we recut it in 1852 to 108.93 carats. The Queen first wore it in a brooch. Later, it became a part of the State Crown, worn by Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary. In 1937 Queen Elizabeth wore the crown with the Koh-I-Noor for her coronation. At the moment, the diamond is in the Tower of London, with the other Crown Jewels.

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